Visiting Young's Plant Farm (Auburn, Alabama) - Part 1

 As many of you who follow along know, I'm sort of a plant geek.  So when an opportunity presents itself to hang out with other plant enthusiasts & check out some behind-the-scenes action in the horticulture industry, I'm all in.

In early June, I attended the National Garden Bureau's 2024 Summit in Auburn, Alabama.  And, of course, since I had not been to Alabama before, I was more than happy to add another pin to my travel map 😊

We toured a variety of different locations:  The Rane Culinary Center rooftop garden at Auburn University, the new headquarters of Bonnie Plants, Botanic (an incredible space that fuses the owners horticulture and culinary passions) and Young's Plant Farm, which is the focus of this post.

Founded in 1961 by Gene Young, Young's Plant Farm is a family run growing facility that operates 56 acres of greenhouses in addition to 40 acres of outdoor growing space.

Young's Trial Gardens

Whenever I tour production facilities, I'm always impressed by their scale and efficiency but one of the things that really blew me away about Young's was their focus on sustainability.  Let's start with the soil mix.  In an effort to reduce peat usage, 40% of their mix is ground up pine which is produced in-house.

Newly planted containers filled with Young's soil mix

Pine trees are grown & harvested on their own tree farms and - this is what I found truly amazing - they chip the ENTIRE tree - branches, bark, needles - everything.  The resulting chunky mix is then delivered to their facility and loaded into a hammer mill where it's ground down into a fine texture, after which it's loaded into large bags and allowed to age for 30 days before it's used.

The hammer mill can be seen in the distance (middle of photo)

Young's has always considered itself a steward of the land.  In fact, it was recycling water back in the late 80's when conserving this valuable resource was barely a blip on the general public's radar.  Today, they use an impressive water filtration system to recycle 100% of the water used in their operations.  City water is used in only a few limited instances such as in restrooms, ice makers and when propagating by seed.  Everything else uses well and/or recycled water - which is amazing considering the scale of their operations.

There were a few other 'wow' moments as we toured the facility.  For example, their greenhouses - pictured above - have retractable roofs so that plants are acclimated to outdoor conditions while still allowing for protection during severe weather.

Spotted:  A beautiful stand of moss along the driveway near their facility

Alabama has a unique growing environment, having the same heat and humidity of Florida with the added challenge of occasional frosts.  Young's started it's trial gardens 12 years ago with the goal of finding the best varieties for homeowners, including those who live in the mid-south.

Currently, Young's is trialing 432 single varieties of plants which are conveniently grouped by genus so that comparisons can be easily made.

There were a LOT of plants that caught my eye in the trial & display gardens, including some All-America Selections winners that I'm also growing in my own garden this year:

Impatiens 'Solarscape XL Pink Jewel'
2024 AAS Winner

Celosia 'Orange Flame'
2022 AAS Winner

Verbena bonariensis 'Vanity'
2022 AAS Winner

And since this is the National Garden Bureau's 'Year of the Angelonia', I couldn't help noticing a couple of particularly lovely Angelonias in the Guardian Angel series:

Angelonia 'Guardian Angel Blue'

Angelonia 'Guardian Angel Berry Sparkler'

Part 2:  More plant highlights from Young's Trial Gardens.


  1. What an interesting trip, Margaret! I love Angelonia and your post just remind me that it's currently missing from my garden.

  2. Oh, how wonderful! And your observations (moss, etc.) are fabulous, too. Angelonia is a personal favorite--I love to grow it as a center plant in floral pots. :)

    1. I've been behind this season and have yet to do a shopping trip for annuals, but I'll be looking out for Angelonia when I do!

  3. I’m so glad you enjoyed your visit! Great article! Thanks for coming!!

    1. Everyone had a wonderful time - thank you so much for the hospitality!


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