Native Seedling Sale

The district's annual seedling sale makes low-cost bare-root native shrub and tree seedlings available to Northern Virginia residents. Seedling packages are announced in January, go on sale in February and are available for pickup in late April or early May. Trees and shrubs help cleanse water, prevent soil erosion, provide habitat, cool our climate and clean our air. Consider adding native trees and shrubs to your community today!


Fall Color

This year's seedling sale features shrubs and trees that will add lovely fall color to your garden. They help clean our water and air, prevent soil erosion, provide valuable habitat, and add beauty and resilience to your landscape. Enjoy!

The Shrub and Small Tree Package features 10 seedlings for $16.95. The Tree Package includes 6 seedlings sold for $11.95. A full, nonrefundable payment must accompany your order by Monday, April 17, or until supplies run out. You will receive a confirmation receipt with a map to the pickup site at the Packard Center in Annandale. Orders may be picked up on Friday, April 21, 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., or Saturday, April 22, 9:00 a.m.-noon.

Order Online Starting February 1

Help us streamline our operations by paying online with a credit card, debit card or e-check. Orders for 2017 seedling packages open February 1. Please follow this link to our online seedling sale store.  View online seedling sale store:

Tree Package (6 Seedlings for $11.95)

2 Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum): Orange ribbon

Bald Cypress closeup Bald Cypress

Grows anywhere from 50-130 feet, and spreads 20-35 feet. Often known as a wetland species, this tree flourishes in a wide range of soils, both wet and dry. Full sun to partial sun conditions. This unique deciduous conifer has bright yellow-green needles in spring and rich orange to pumpkin brown in autumn. 

Hardiness Zone 4-10.

Photo Credits: Left - Chris Evans, University of Illinois, Right - Photo copyright Heather Chalmers.

2 Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra): Red ribbon

Northern Red Oak

Hardy, long-lived tree that grows up to 90 feet. Prefers sunny and dry to moist sites on upland, well-drained soils. Like all oaks, this tree is highly valued by wildlife such as birds, squirrels, and deer. In the fall, the leaves turn red or yellow. 

Hardiness Zone 3-8.

2 Sassafras (Sassafras albidum) - New Species!: Yellow ribbon


Aromatic pioneer species, can grow and spread anywhere from 35-50 feet. Fast growing and hardy pioneer species in new growth areas. Adapted to various soils with low pH. Full sun to partial sun and dry to moist conditions, though it prefers well-drained soils. In the fall, leaves turn yellow, orange, red, and purple.

Hardiness Zone 4-9.

Photo Credit: Dow Gardens,

Shrub and Small Tree Package (10 Seedlings for $16.95)

2 Arrowwood Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum): Blue ribbon

Arrowwood Viburnum

Vigorous growing deciduous shrub reaches heights of 15 feet. White flowers in late spring. Striking blue-black berries are very attractive against glossy yellow and red fall foliage. Excellent food for birds. Tolerates wet soils. Good in hedges and screens.

Hardiness Zone 3-8.

Photo Credit: James H. Miller & Ted Bodner, Southern Weed Science Society, Photo from Forest Plants of the Southeast and Their Wildlife Uses by J.H. Miller & K.V. Miller.

2 Gray Dogwood (Cornus racemosa): White ribbon

Gray Dogwood

Deciduous shrub, grows 6-12 feet. Blooms white flowers from May-June, and produces white berries from August-September. Prefers drier sites, but does well in diverse growing conditions, ranging from full sun to full shade and dry to moist sites. Purple fall foliage. Berries serve as great food source for most songbirds and small mammals.

Hardiness Zone 3-8.

2 Smooth Sumac (Rhus glabra): Purple ribbon

Smooth Sumac

Grows anywhere from 2-20 feet. Produces compact clusters of greenish flowers that bloom from June-July, and red berries from August-October. Leaves turn red in the fall. Extremely drought resistant, prefers dry to moist sites in full sun.

Hardiness Zone 4-8.

Photo Credit: Kenneth J. Sytsma, Wisconsin State Herbarium

2 Common Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) - New Species!: Black ribbon

Common Ninebark

Grows anywhere from 5-12 feet. Sometimes tree-like, with wide-spreading, curved branches. Bark is continually peeling into thin strips or broader sheets on larger trunks. Very drought-tolerant, can adapt to various growing conditions. Prefers sunny sites. Fall foliage comes in yellow or red colors.

Hardiness Zone 2-7.

Photo Credit: Robert H. Mohlenbrock, hosted by USDA-NRCS Plants Database

2 New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus) - New Species!: Green ribbon

New Jersey Tea

Grows up to 3 feet. Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, and fixes nitrogen. Has white flowers that bloom in late spring and turn yellow in the fall. Tolerates moist, well-drained soils along with drier soils. Full sun to partial sun conditions.

Hardiness Zone 4-8.

Photo Credit: Larry Allain, hosted by USDA-NRCS Plants database

Hardiness Zone

The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map shows 10 different zones, each of which represents an area of winter hardiness for plants. Fairfax County falls into zones 6b-7a. All of our seedlings are suited for planting in the greater Washington, DC area.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Some of our most frequently asked Seedling Sale questions and helpful answers from NVSWCD staff.

What’s the skinny on the Seedling Sale?

The Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District holds a Native Tree and Shrub Seedling Sale each spring. The theme and exact species vary from year to year. Orders open online in February. In 2017, pickup is on April 21 and 22 at the Packard Center in Annandale.

When should I place my order?

Please order early! In 2017, online ordering opens in February and will continue until Monday, April 17. If that date has passed, don’t panic, there may still be an opportunity to purchase a package.

Are there extras? Can I just show up at pickup?

Yes, but... If you don’t make the pre-order deadline, we cannot guarantee that you will get the tree or shrub package of your choice. We often do have extra packages or individual seedlings for sale on the pickup days (April 21 and 22).

Can my spouse/child/parent/neighbor/best friend pick up my order for me?

Yes. They will need to have your first and last name and a generally honest disposition. A printout of the order confirmation is helpful but not required. No need to notify us in advance.

What happens if I miss the pickup date?

Don’t miss the pickup date! If you can’t make it, please send a friend! (See above.) If you do miss it, you can coordinate to pick them up from our office during business hours the following week. If they go unclaimed, we reserve the right to donate them before they dry out. Seedling sale purchases are nonrefundable.

How large are the packages?Small boy and girl hold seedling packages

Smaller than you might think! These are first- and second-year bare-root trees and shrubs, which means they are small and come without soil. We add a colored ribbon, put together each package, and wrap the roots in wet newspaper and a plastic bag to keep them moist. In the photo at right, each child is holding one package. Each package of 6-10 seedlings bundled together is typically 1-3 feet long and 4-6 inches wide.

What were last year's ribbon colors?

Check out our new page, Previous Years' Seedling Ribbon Colors, for species names and the color of the ribbon (flagging tape) we used to identify it.

What should I bring with me for pickup?

A small bucket or basket. You don’t want the package to tip over and spill water on your backseat. Don’t have a bucket? A sturdy double paper bag or large trash bag will do the job.

How do I care for them?

Keep the roots moist and plant your seedlings as soon as possible. We provide a planting guide when you pick up your seedlings. Dig a hole wider than it is deep. We recommend watering throughout the summer for the first year, especially if your tree or shrub is in direct sunlight. Fertilizer is not needed. A light top-dressing of leaf mulch is optional.

How fast will they grow?

The seedlings typically start out in a dormant state, but when cared for properly, they can grow into lovely landscape specimens faster than you think. Each species has a different growing speed. Since it can be difficult to protect a small first-year seedling from mowers, deer, rabbits and – occasionally – human feet, we include two of every species in the packages.

Rarely – once every several years – we have had a supplier issue (not VDOF) where a large number of seedlings of a particular shrub or tree have not survived. In those cases, we give feedback to the supplier and monitor their seedlings in following years to ensure that it is not a repeat occurrence. Even when that happens, we believe the benefit and low cost we offer by purchasing in bulk outweighs the risk. It’s still a great deal!

Where do you get the seedlings?

Typically we get most of our seedlings from the Virginia Department of Forestry. We like to support our state forestry department and help increase demand for native trees and shrubs. We also purchase seedlings from other neighboring states and private nurseries.

What are the funds used for?

Good question! First, the funds cover the cost of the seedlings and associated program costs. NVSWCD uses any leftover funds to support educational programs, including the high school Envirothon competition, biological stream monitoring, storm drain education, Youth Conservation Camp, Science Fair awards, and other outreach activities. Thank you for supporting these efforts through the Seedling Sale!

Have more questions? Feel free to contact us.

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