Greener Thumb
Posts: 1416
Joined: Tue Feb 19, 2008 9:40 pm
Location: US

What % of all plants that you buy are natives?

I think most people who garden with native plants still buy plants that aren't native whether they're for their yards or inside their homes.

1) What percentage of native plants that you buy are locally native?
From the county where you garden and documented as having occurred naturally in your county should be close enough for this question.

2) Native to your side of the Rockies and within say a 100-150 mile radius of where you garden?

Try as I might I rarely can find locally native plants unless I'm buying them from a spring plant sale hosted by a local native plant society or if a neighbor is sharing with me. My guess is I'm buying 25% or less.

Plants that are indigenous to within a 100-150 mile radius are becoming a lot easier for me to get my hands on these days as there are many native plant nurseries popping up. Best guess is I'm in the range of at least 50% in this category.

The remaining 25% I buy is a mish mash of non-natives including cultivars of native plants, plants indigenous to different regions of the Eastern US, mild mannered non-natives that are indigenous west of the Rockies, and mild mannered plants that aren't even native to my continent. Some that come to mind that I bought would be another Japanese Maple, another peony bush, three really nice Pacific ninebarks, Amsonia tomentosa, and a boatload of slipper orchids. Did receive some Aesculus flava and Viola cucullata 'White Czar' as a gift and have planted those.

Over the years I've noticed the percentage of plants I buy that go in the ground that are native to my region going up dramatically to probably somewhere in the 95+ % range. It just sort of happened the more I worked on my property. I've begun to remove some of the exotic plants I bought and received as gifts over the years and have been replacing them with natives. The hostas I have growing here are slowly being replacing with ferns.

Green Thumb
Posts: 439
Joined: Thu Nov 09, 2006 11:17 am
Location: Midcoast Maine, Zone 5b

1) Native to the county, perhaps 10 - 15%
2) Native within 150 miles, I'd guess about 25% - 30%
I'm counting cultivars of native species and naturally occurring species crosses as native. I could get into more minutiae about what I'm counting and not counting but this is probably close enough.

I'm probably not representative since I'm buying plants for clients as well as myself and I have a bit of plant collector disease (polygonatums, epimediums, geraniums, peonies, woodland plants from Northern Japan, Korea and parts of Northern China and the east coast of Russia).

PS Bill Cullina has left NEWFS and gone to work for the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden (still a work in progress but they have made great strides in the last two years). I'm very excited to have him on "my" turf.

Greener Thumb
Posts: 1416
Joined: Tue Feb 19, 2008 9:40 pm
Location: US

Yes, I had heard about Cullina leaving. I know a gal who works for the NEWFS. He truly was instrumental in advancing their organization. This will be a feather in the cap of the CMBG. His lectures and field studies are phenomenal. Wish we could have picked him up. I suspect we will be seeing some unparalleled educational programming coming out of the State of Maine in the years to come and perhaps a new book on native plants? Lucky you!, Lucky Maine!

User avatar
Senior Member
Posts: 119
Joined: Thu Feb 21, 2008 2:10 pm
Location: WI z4

"Buy" percentage would actually be very small - I raise most of my native plants from seed I collect from neighbors, friends and roadways in my area. Even the ones I don't collect are purchased seeds from regional native nurseries. I did buy a few plugs this year; perhaps 10% of the 100+ species that I'm growing this year. Come to think of it, even the non-natives that I bought (vege's) were seeds.

When I look at "locally native" I usually include adjoining counties in my determination. Too often, a species is not listed as being present in a county simply because a botanist did not collect a specimen from a particular county and make an herbarium record of it. If there's a record of it in an adjoining county, I suspect it's present in my county too.

Most of my "non-native" purchases are native seeds/plants that are not native to WI, but something about them has caught my attention. I have a couple of clematis that are in that category, as well as a few others that slip my mind right now.

I've gotten so interested in native plants in the last few years that I just don't have time for the usual catalog and nursery selection of plants. The book "Bringing Nature Home" did nothing to dampen my enthusiasm.

We had the local Master Gardener Volunteer class out here for their segment on native plants about a week ago. The Extension Agent was finding so many interesting insects to show the class that I couldn't help but think "kid in a candy store" :lol: .

The neighbor has bluebird houses with nesting birds (I don't have an open enough area for them), but the birds come to our yard to feed and gather insects for their young. Mornings and evenings are a chorus of birds singing (note to self: you have got to learn to identify bird songs).

User avatar
Green Thumb
Posts: 310
Joined: Thu May 15, 2008 2:25 pm
Location: NW Georgia

My native percentage for the county is probably close to zero, but I buy only seeds and seedings for my vegetable garden. This side of the rockies? Well, I think summer squash is native, but nothing else in my garden. That's one bed of six, so 16.6%, maybe.

Greener Thumb
Posts: 1416
Joined: Tue Feb 19, 2008 9:40 pm
Location: US

Really exciting to see so many gardeners interested in incorporating natives into their landscapes regardless of our "buy" percentages!

Garden Spider
Cool Member
Posts: 88
Joined: Wed Apr 16, 2008 12:07 pm
Location: Western Washington

Hard to say what % natives I buy . . . it depends on what I am looking for, what will work in my yard, and what's available. I wanted a Ceanothus, but the species native to my county was going to grow way too big for the space I had--so I bought a species native to California. It's doing wonderfully. I also bought a dwarf variety of another species to put in an even smaller area. I would love to have the native species, but as I said, I don't have room for a shrub that will eventually grow 12 - 15 feet tall, with an equally wide spread. Wish I did--they are glorious! I have 4 areas now that are 100% native, though I do have some named cultivars that aren't strictly native . . . AND I do consider plants native to Oregon as "native", even though they may not be native to Washington. I still consider myself a native of Oregon, despite living in WA for the last 20+ years. So I do have some plants native to the Siskiyou Mts in Oregon. I also have some plants native to Alaska and BC, but are not native to Washington.

One plant I ordered, that was supposed to be Sisyrinchium californicum has turned out to be S. striata--native to the Pacific Coast, but Chile, rather than Washington. A bit too far to even pretend it's native. Next time some friends and I have a plant swap, I'll see if anybody wants it, and I'll replace it with S. idahoensis, or somthing. Or Mimulus cardinalis.

I probably have about 25 - 30% natives in the garden, and I'm adding more. I'm now looking for Rubus ursinus, our PNW native blackberry. I've found a good place for it.

Full Member
Posts: 15
Joined: Fri Jun 20, 2008 1:28 pm
Location: Egg Harbor TWP, NJ

As a grower, I really don't buy too many in th egarden centers. What I do buy is natives from NP societies, as prop plants, tho' I don't prop all of them. So I would say 100% I cant remember the last time I bought a non-native.

Now my yard is a different story. I satrted years ago so many thing are bnt native, but as they die out I replace them with natives. Non=naticves I have include balloon flower And hosta, Autumn fern, japanse painted fern, daffodilsm hyacinths, red hot pokers, shasta daisies and non native columbines, Iris and Montauk daisies and Crocosmia ' Lucifer".

Oh and purple loosestrife showed up in my yard back in 1995. At that time I just thought what a beautiful weed, so I kept it. I learned something very important about that plant. NEVER DIG IT UP! any little broken off pieces of root will start multiple plants on you. They put in city water in 2003 and so the plant got dug up. then they smoothed over the soil with a grader and by spring, I had 8 of these plants! One is ain a dry spot so it eventually died, and so now after the bloom I cut the spent flowers off immeditely and bag them so they don't produce seed.

I had butterfly bushes, I dug them ypo and gave them away in favor of Summersweet.



Greener Thumb
Posts: 1416
Joined: Tue Feb 19, 2008 9:40 pm
Location: US

I guess I asked the question poorly in consideration of MaineDesigner who has to follow the lead of the customer, NEWisc who propagates most of what he plants, and you who has a native plant nursery. Considering how many threatened and endangered species as well as other natives that I propagate, I really should have used a different wording. Oops.

I still buy a few non-natives but I'm also doing what you do by replacing non-natives when they die out.

I've always grown hardy southeastern native carnivorous plants. Other than that, I've been playing with native terrestrial orchids a little bit. Doing fair to midland with them. It's not the plants so much but the critters that like to uproot and eat the plants.

Cool Member
Posts: 75
Joined: Sat Feb 23, 2008 10:38 pm
Location: wauconda, IL

I buy 100% native and local genotype, if possible.

That is not to say all the plants in my yard are, however.

I have german iris, and a tree peony, and phlox. They are not native, but they are also not invasive, and they are not going anywhere.

The point is NOT whether or not you have all natives..the point you plant <I><b>invasive</I></b> non natives.

Quite frankly...I DO have a gorgeous butterfly bush that I can't quite stand to get rid of. I deadhead it religiously...and since it isn't stoloniferous or rhizomatous, it isn't going anywhere, either. I know *I* will deadhead. Do most people? It's in my front yard. My front yard is for the neighbors and the lawn police's benefit. I have knautia macedonia and ballon flower out there, too. And scabiosa...oh please, don't ever plant scabiosa....very freely self seeding. I have a strip of earth two feet wide, 30 feet long, that runs along my driveway on the south side of my house. It has been overtaken by hollyhocks. They started out band-aid pink..but over the course of 5 years have evolved into shades from white to darkest pink. I also grow tomatoes, garlic, thyme and eastern prickly pear in this very hot and dry space. My front yard is 90% native. My back yard...100% native.

Full Member
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Jul 01, 2008 6:07 am

100% bought and propagated

Full Member
Posts: 16
Joined: Fri Jul 11, 2008 12:52 pm
Location: Long Beach, CA

my yard is 99% native Southern California plants. My one exception is a fig tree.

My yard take very very little water. It can live on our 12 inches per year. And when we don't get that, I supplement with my cold shower water. We're in a drought now.

The plants are beutiful. And in a land where every one seems to plant birds of paradise, grass, and other water hogs, the natives really stand out as unique. Which they're not of course.

I plant vegetables in my community vegetable garden from seeds. Mostly heirloom seeds.

Greener Thumb
Posts: 1416
Joined: Tue Feb 19, 2008 9:40 pm
Location: US

my yard is 99% native
When I grow up can I be like you?

Very big warm welcome to you at The Helpful Gardener!

Newly Registered
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Sep 21, 2008 2:22 am
Location: Marysville, CA, USA

90-95% of the plants I buy are California natives. 75-80% are native to the county I'm gardening in.

How many of the plants actually growing in the yard are native, though, I really don't know . . . because I have a ton of seedlings coming up, but I can't figure out whether they're from any of the seeds I planted! The pictures I can find online of the seeds I scattered don't seem to resemble my seedlings, but the pictures of the locally common weeds don't seem to resemble my seedlings either, and I don't want to pull them until I know what they are. How do other people deal with this problem?

Greener Thumb
Posts: 1416
Joined: Tue Feb 19, 2008 9:40 pm
Location: US

I read what you planted from your other post so am not surprised in the least to learn you're over 90%, good for you.

Ah seedlings... aren't they a pain in the a$$! More often than not, I have to allow the seedling to grow out. If it's desirable, I let it stay put. If it's not desirable, out it comes. I have a few websites I go to that help me and last year I began taking photos of seedlings that germinated. Wish I would have started doing that years ago. I keep the few seedling photos I have on my harddrive and am using them as a reference.

Here's one site that's been of help to me and I know you've got issues with some of these plants out your way too-

The photos aren't the greatest at this site but they can be a help sometimes when I have an idea of what might have ended up here from a neighbor's property-

There are other websites out there but you'd have to poke around for them.

Many years ago, I found a whole boatload of seedlings coming up in one particular area to the north of my driveway. I let them be for a while dreading the thought of hand pulling them all. I put off tasks like that. I knew those seedlings were nothing but trouble because there were so many of them and nothing good ever pops up like that in that quantity. Had a few hours one day so I pulled out my foamy knee pad and began tackling the arduous task of hand pulling each and every one of them. Had finished hand pulling them all and was calling it quits when a friend stopped in. She pulled up the driveway and parked her car and looked at my formidable pile of "weeds" then immediately asked me why in heavens names had I ripped all the abc out of the ground. Gasp. Uh oh- big uh oh. The seedlings I had been ripping out of the ground had been broadcast by me the previous fall and I had totally forgotten about sowing them. I frantically tried to replant them to no avail. They had sat on the driveway in the hot sun too long. These days I'm not so quick to rip anything out of the ground that I can't identify.

Return to “Gardening with Native Plant Species”