Don't miss: massive UC Davis Arboretum plant sale on September 30, 2023

The UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden is one of the great treasures of the Sacramento area. It’s seamlessly integrated into the campus and is open 24/7 – no fixed hours and no entrance fees. It’s the perfect place to go for a stroll, run, walk the dog, take a picnic. Because of that, it’s used as much by the public as by the students.

Near the western end of the Arboretum is the Arboretum Teaching Nursery. That’s where staff, students, and community volunteers grow plants both for the Arboretum collections and for the wildly popular plant sales.

Typically, there are six plant sales a year: three in the spring and three in the fall. The first sale of the season will be this coming Saturday, September 30, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The first two hours are for members only; the public can shop from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Members not only get in early, they also get a 10% discount on all plant purchases. You can join online or in person at the door.

Last week, nursery manager Taylor Lewis walked us volunteers through the sales area, and I took a slew of photos to give you an idea of what to expect at the sale. My pictures are just a small snapshot of the plants that will be available. For example, there’s a huge variety of California natives, both shrubs and perennials, that I didn’t photograph. Ditto for shade plants. Check out the online inventory to see what there is – and to make your own shopping list. This year, there are three inventory selections: interactive online inventory with photos, PDF, or Microsoft Excel.

Plants that caught my eye, in no particular order or priority, starting with shrubs:

Duranta erecta ‘Sapphire Showers’

Leucophyllum frutescens ‘Heavenly Cloud’

Leucophyllum frutescens ‘White Cloud’

Leucophyllum zygophyllum

Leucadendron salignum ‘Red Tulip’

Hard to photograph well, but beautiful in person: Acacia stenophylla (left) and Melaleuca elliptica (right)

Dwarf abutilons: Abutilon ‘Patio Lantern Passion’ (left) and Abutilon ‘Lucky Lantern Yellow’ (right)

The salvia selection is so ridiculously large, we volunteers constantly make jokes about it. According to the inventory, there are 67 different varieties, 2367 individual plants.

Just a small cross section of the salvia inventory

Beach salvia (labeled as Salvia aurea, current botanical name is Salvia africana-lutea)

Mealycup sage (Salvia farinacea)

There’s a huge selection of perennials, both for sun and shade:

A personal fave of mine, billy buttons (Pycnosorus globosus, formerly Craspedia globosa)

Blue milkweed or tweedia (Oxypetalum coeruleum)...

...with its oddball seed pods

‘Blue Glow’ globe thistle (Echinops bannaticus ‘Blue Glow’)

Brazilian plume (Justicia carnea) and variegated abutilon (Abutilon ‘Savitzii’)

Allium ‘Lavender Bubbles’, the plant featured on this season’s plant sales banner

Lomandra longifolia ‘Arctic Frost’

Lomandra longifolia ‘Platinum Beauty’ (top), Hebe speciosa ‘Variegata’ (bottom)

Variegated Australian fuchsia (Correa ‘Wyn’s Wonder’)

Miscellaneous odds and ends:

Who knew there were so many wildly colored ajugas!

Ajuga reptans ‘Princess Leia’

The best name in the sale: Sinningia ‘Invasion Force’

Yellow rain lily (Zephyranthes flavissima)

Reddish pink rain lily (Zephyranthes ‘Heart Throb’)

White rain lilies (Zephyranthes candida)

Bat-faced cuphea (Cuphea llavea)

Of course, there are succulents. Many succulents. Succulents of every description. For instance, there are 18 varieties of echeverias (667 plants), 21 varieties of sedums and sedum hybrids (774 plants), 20 varieties of mangaves (907 plants). Not to mention agaves, aloes, etc. etc. Most are in 3-inch pots priced at a very reasonable $7.50.

Lots of echeverias: 18 different varieties, 667 individual plants as per inventory

Echeveria ‘Giant Blue’

Echeveria ‘Purple Pearl’

Echeveria ‘Chili Limon’

If you like mangaves, you’re in luck: 20 different varieties, 907 individual plants.

Mangave ‘Purple People Easter’ (top), Mangave ‘Navajo Princess’ (bottom)

Mangave ‘Racing Stripes’ (top) Mangave ‘Pineapple Express’ (bottom)

Mangave ‘Pineapple Punch’ (top), Mangave ‘Falling Waters’ (bottom)

Probably the most coveted mangave of them all, Mangave ‘Praying Hands’

Mangave ‘Praying Hands’

Among the 11 varieties of agaves on offer, I found this to be the most intriguing because of its striking markings and diminutive mature size:

Agave toumeyana

A few dasylirions and nolinas, including Dasylirion acrotrichum (not in the inventory, but out on the sales floor):

Dasylirion acrotrichum

Eight aloe varieties, including...

Aloe rubroviolacea, rarely seen in nurseries – nice plants in 2-gallon pots for $20

Aloe × spinosissima, both in 3-inch and 5-gallon pots (I know, quite a jump in size)

Sold as Aloe striata, but clearly a hybrid between Aloe striata and Aloe maculata (pure striata would have no spots on the leaves and no teeth along the leaf margins)

This is the kind plant sale that is worth the drive, even if you live an hour or two away. The inventory contains plants that you literally won’t find anywhere else in Northern California. And the selection is massive: 800+ different taxa, 31,000+ individual plants. Of course, I’m a bit biased because I volunteer at the Arboretum Teaching Nursery and am an enthusiastic shopper myself.

If you can’t make it to the sale on September 30, there’ll be two more this fall: October 21 and November 4. For more information, go to the Arboretum’s plant sale page.

Note: In your preferred navigation platform, enter 1046 Garrod Drive as the destination. This will get you close to the action. The best place to park is the animal clinic parking lot across from the Nursery. There’ll be plenty of signs and volunteers to direct you.

© Gerhard Bock, 2023. All rights reserved. To receive all new posts by email, please subscribe here.


  1. That's an Event! Ooh, wish I could go. 'Praying Hands' Mangave!

  2. I am SO envious! They've offering Mangave 'Praying Hands' for $7.50! Mine cost more than that and, after 2 years, may be smaller than those UCD is offering. Their beach salvia looks more like Salvia lanceolata than africana-lutea to me but it may just be a matter of lighting. I have both in my garden. My local botanic garden is apparently foregoing its fall sale (like its spring sale) again this year :(

  3. 90 minute drive for me, thanks for sharing!

  4. Danger! Danger!. It's a good thing I don't live close. Not sure how I would choose. One of everything please.


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