UC Davis Arboretum plant sale October 1, 2022

The University of California Arboretum will have its first plant sale of the season this Saturday, October 1, 2022, at the Arboretum Teaching Nursery on Garrod Drive. This sale is for Arboretum members only. The other two fall sales—on Saturday, October 22 and Saturday, November 5—will be open to the public.

The availability list for the first sale is now online, both in Excel and Acrobat format. Going through the list takes a while—there are 797 entries on 69 pages—but for me, it’s one of the most fun things to do.

As a volunteer, I was able to attend the VIP Early-Bird Sale yesterday and took some photos. The nursery is packed to the gills with plants, many of them blooming (I know many shoppers prefer to buy plants that are in flower).

Salvia is the genus with the most individual taxa. There are 73 unique salvias for sale, both species and hybrids, ranging from Salvia ‘African Sky’ to Salvia ‘Wendy’s Wish’. This includes a few rosemarys, too, now that the former genus Rosmarinus has been subsumed into Salvia.

Salvia greggii ‘Rose Bicolor’, one of several bicolor cultivars

Salvia ‘Lello’, a creamy-yellow cultivar selected and named by nursery manager Taylor Lewis

Salvia argentea, too, one of the most unusual salvias

Copper Sun blanket flower (Gaillardia aristata ‘Copper Sun’) is among many fall-flowering perennials for instant impact

Of course there are plenty of succulents. Echeverias (30 unique taxa) and sedums (32 unique taxa) are particularly well represented.


More echeverias

And even more echeverias

Lotsa sedums

There aren’t a lot of agaves and aloes; unfortunately, there just doesn’t seem to be much interest among the buying public.

Just a few agaves

Agave schidigera ‘Royal Flush’

But if mangaves are your thing, you’re in luck. The UC Davis Arboretum plant sales have always been a great source for mangaves, and this season is no exception with 17 different mangaves and manfredas.

Mangaves I

Mangaves II

×Mangave ‘Thunderbird’

A few other plants that caught my eye yesterday, mostly because they were in bloom:

Yellow autumn crocus (Sternbergia lutea)

Zephyranthes candida

Oak leaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia), I don’t remember which cultivar—there are 9 (!) different ones in this sale

Here’s my wagon/haul:

Botanical NameCommon NameDescription
Bletilla ochraceahardy Chinese ground orchidPale yllw orchid flws w/frilled lip thru smmr. Winter dormant peren, to 2’x2’. Mod wtr, well-drained soil. Morning sun/brt shd.
Bletilla striata ‘Alba Variegata’Alba Variegata Chinese ground orchidWht orchid flws w/frilled lip sprng-smmr. Grn foliage edged cream, w/light cream streaks. Winter dormant peren, to 1.5’, spreading. Mod wtr, well-drained soil. Morning sun/brt shd.
Chrysactinia mexicanadamianita daisyLow mounding evergrn shrub w/fragrant lvs. Yllw daisies bloom Apr-Sept, full sun, lt shade. Excellent drainage; low wtr.
Dalea greggiiGregg’s prairie cloverEvrgrn shrub, to 1’x3’. Prpl flws sprng-smmr. Blue-grey lvs. Sun, low wtr. Excllnt drainage.
Echinopsis ‘Spring Blush’Spring Blush cactusSchick hybrid; light purplish-pink to salmon flowers up to 6" across
Leucophyllum zygophyllumblue rangerShrub, evrgrn to 5’; silvery-cupped lvs. violet-blu flws smmr-fall. Good drainage, vry low wtr. Sun
Salvia chamaedryoides ‘Marine Blue’Marine Blue germander sage18" x 3’. Almost non-stop dark blue fls above wrinkled green to grey-grn foliage. Great bee plant for hot, dry areas.
Salvia greggii ‘Amethyst Lips’Amethyst Lips autumn sageto 3’. Bicolor flws of amethyst prpl and wht, sprng- fall. Sun/pt shade. Low wtr; attracts pollinators.

I have several holes to fill, and Southwest natives fit the bill perfectly. The Chinese ground orchids are for a shady bed in the backyard where I already have some other Bletilla.

As I mentioned earlier, you can download the availability list in Excel or PDF format. In addition, you can view the inventory online in Airtable, complete with plant information and photos. This is a great new way to do research ahead of time. And if you need inspiration, here are some Arboretum staff favorites.

I’ll be volunteering at the sale on October 1 so look for me in an orange apron!

© Gerhard Bock, 2022. All rights reserved. To receive all new posts by email, please subscribe here.


  1. I bought S. 'Marine Blue' a couple years ago at Sierra Azul. Love that Salvia ! I'm going to cry if the VIP's bought all the Salvia discolor .

    1. Kathy, there were plenty of Salvia discolor left. I don't think it's very popular because it's not flowering, ha ha. Look for me on Saturday!

    2. P.S. Thanks for the thumbs up for 'Marine Blue'. I'm happy I got one.

  2. Oh my. So many plants to choose from it's overwhelming. So much fun to be able to get in there early. You have a great haul. Mangaves are quite trendy right now so are probably more popular than agaves as they are not nearly as well armed. I love salvias and grow a whole bunch most of which overwinter in my garage. However, S. argentea is easy from seed, hardy in Zone 3 (Cdn) and easily gets 4' across in it's first year with beautiful soft fuzzy silver leaves. The candelabras of white flowers are pretty the next season but alas the foliage loses it's softness.

    1. Always forget to add my real name.

    2. Hi Elaine, I found out that Salvia argentea is technically biennial, although the group I was with had a lively discussion as to whether that's really true...

  3. UDC seems to do a better job with its sales than anyone! Great haul! I'll be interested to hear how your do with the ground orchids. I killed two of them. It's odd that agaves - and aloes - don't have more traction with the buying public up your way. They both seem relatively popular here, although varieties are admittedly limited.

    1. When most people think of agaves, they think of nasty clumps of Agave americana, which are everywhere. Maybe that's why?

  4. It look like a massive plant sale; wish I could swing by... kudos for volunteering.

    1. It's a huge sale for sure. Just for fun, I added up the total number of plants that are in this sale, based on the Excel availability list: 27454 individual plants!

  5. "There aren’t a lot of agaves and aloes; unfortunately, there just doesn’t seem to be much interest among the buying public." Such a sad sad sentence to read.

    1. Isn't it? On the other hand, I just got back from my Thursday morning volunteer shift at the Arboretum Teaching Nursery, and among the plants we potted up this morning for the spring 2023 sales was a flat of Agave toumeyana seedlings :-).


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