In the past six years, thousands of native plants have been purchased through the “Bringing Nature Home” native plant sale held annually in Joliet.

“We’ve probably given homes to between 15,000 and 20,000 plants,” said Cindy Harn, executive director of The Nature Foundation of Will County, which plans and hosts the plant sale.

The seventh annual plant sale is scheduled for 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, May 18, at the Forest Preserve District of Will County’s Sugar Creek Administration Center, 17540 W. Laraway Road. A ticketed pre-sale fundraiser will be held from 4-8 p.m. Friday, May 17, at the same location. Tickets cost $25 per person for the pre-sale and they are available online at An event plant list also is available online.

New to the plant sale this year will be the Grumpy Gaucho food truck, free compost on Saturday, and bigger and better silent auction and raffle items. Also, in the past several years, the percentage of pollinator friendly plants has been increased due to customer demand, Harn said.

Relaxed pre-sale atmosphere
During the Friday pre-sale, attendees will receive premier access to the native plants, shrubs and trees that are for sale. The pre-sale also features music, artisan cheeses and sausages, craft beer from Evil Horse Brewing in Crete, boutique wines and a selection of desserts. Plant experts will be on hand to give one-on-one advice for plant purchases.

“It’s more of a relaxed environment,” Harn said. “You get premier access to the plants before the crowds come on Saturday. You have a chance to really talk to the native plant experts for a longer period of time because the crowd is smaller. It’s also easier to network with other native plant fans to form friendships.”

Friday’s event also has enticing silent auction items including a week at a Florida cottage, a Joliet Slammers suite at Route 66 Stadium, an Autobahn Country Club teen driving gift certificate, a cocktail basket, a craft beer basket, a wine basket, White Sox tickets, landscaping services, garden art, wind chimes and more.

Main event
Tickets are not required for Saturday’s public plant sale where more than 150 species of native perennials, shrubs and trees will be available for purchase, and experts will be available for plant consultations. Free compost will be on site; bring a bucket or bag and a shovel so you can take some home. A gardener’s gift basket worth more than $500 also will be raffled off.

Plant sale attendance has grown through the years, Harn said, which means more and more people are getting the message that it’s better to garden and landscape with native species than to use nonnatives. Native plants are tougher because they have adapted to our soil, climate, insects and animals. They require less maintenance, care and water, so they save on time and money. They also help species that require native plants for food, shelter and nesting.

Proceeds from the plant sale go to the Forest Preserve District of Will County. This year’s proceeds will be used to install a pollinator garden at Isle a la Cache Museum in Romeoville.