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How do we define a Native Plant?

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How do we define a Native Plant?

How do we define a native plant?

Oh, now that's a loaded question in the landscape industry because the meaning of the word is changing rapidly. Native used to mean "any plant that had been growing wild somewhere in North America for a long time without being selected for special features".

Now, there is a more nuanced meaning of native coming into usage. That would be that the plant "grew in your bio-region". And, perhaps, had even "been grown from seed collected locally". Most plants in the landscape industry are propagated by cutting, and so they all have identical genes. It's clearly better, from an environmental genetic diversity standpoint, if the plants are grown from seeds from a community of plants that themselves have genetic diversity. We are actively looking for a supplier that will be able to supply this level of native plants for you. In the meantime, we have native plants that are considered native under the older thinking patterns.

What is a Nativar?

A nativar is a the result of selective breeding of a native plant for the features that the grower is looking for. A prime example of this would be all of the fancy coloured cone flowers such as the Cara Mia Yellow Coneflower. (Echinacea purpurea would be the straight species.).

These plants are closer to a native plant than some plant imported from afar, but still may not provide the same benefits for our local wildlife that the native species would. For instance, if the flower is a different shape, it may be harder for an insect to access the pollen and nectar. Or, the plant may make much less pollen and nectar - after all it was likely selected for colour of petals or size rather than for how well it fed wildlife. Also, our native plants provide many other resources for wildlife, that we don't always even know about, such as shelter, leaf forage, or perhaps supporting specialized soil life.

So, we'll leave it to you to make the choice, but encourage you to select native plants whenever they will serve the purpose in your garden.

Whether native or nativar, we hope that you enjoy the plants that you have received from Plants in the City.

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