Some Sources of Native Plants in 2019

Blooming (male) Groundsel-tree, Baccharis halimifolia, covered in nectaring Monarchs at the peak of their migration, Cape May Point, NJ (September 25, 2012)

Once hooked on wildlife gardening with native plants, it can be a real challenge to find native plants.  Yes a few have been mainstreamed, and the nursery down the street may carry them.  But beware of cultivars of native plants.  Cultivars are plants created or selected for specific characteristics such as early blooming or color, often at the expense of nectar, berries (the plants may be sterile), and sometimes even the leaf chemistry is changed so the plant can no longer be used as a caterpillar plant.  We (wildlife gardeners) want the nectar, the berries, and we want the leaf chemistry intact so our butterflies can create the next generation!

Be careful too that your plants are Neonicotinoid free.  Neonicotinoids are systemic (get into every part of the plant, including pollen, nectar, even dew) pesticides that are applied to many commercially-available nursery plants and are harmful to bees, caterpillars, moths, and butterflies.

Educate yourself about Neonics by reading the following:

  1. Xerces Society’s  Protecting Bees From Neonicotinoids in Your Garden (includes list of products that have neonics in them)
  2. Xerces Society’s How Neonicotinoids Can Kill Bees, the Science Behind the Role These Insecticides Play in Harming Bees (in-depth study, 2nd Edition)
  3. Xerces Society’s “Neonicotinoid Movement in the Environment” POSTER (how neonics move through the landscape and are being found even where they were not used)
  4. American Bird Conservancy’s  Neonicotinoid Insecticides Harm The Little Creatures, including how 90 percent of food samples taken from Congressional cafeterias contain neonicotinoid insecticides (highly toxic to birds and other wildlife) .
Native trees and shrubs for sale during one of the Retail Sale Days at Clemenson Farms Native Nursery

Some Sources of NATIVE PLANTS: 2019

by Patricia Sutton

click here for the 4-page printable pdf

3rd Edition (5-22-19)

The Meadow Project (“Urban and Suburban Meadows” and “Hometown Habitat” by Catherine Zimmerman) shares an excellent state-by-state “Find Native Plants” link, with many additional sources of native plants.

Be sure to also check with your state’s Native Plant Society to see if they have a list of nurseries that carry native plants.  The Native Plant Society of NJ’s Native Plant Nurseries list includes the percentage of natives that each nursery carries, so you can readily see which nurseries you can let your guard down in and which you need to pay sharp attention.

To help people find the top ranked plants in their county Doug Tallamy, author of Bringing Nature Home, is working with National Wildlife Federation on their Native Plant Finder website.  In browsing this site, there are many, many plants for my own area (Cape May County, NJ) that I have been promoting for years and know to be TOP ranked plants that are not yet included . . . so keep checking back and realize that this is a work in progress.

6 Replies to “Some Sources of Native Plants in 2019”

  1. Our minds are now completely blown. I put all of the freebie plants the homeowners gave us on Friday’s tour in one area of our lawn while awaiting to plant them. A beautiful orange butterfly swept into our barren lawn, bypassed every mature bush and plant and went directly to the baby milkweeds. We were astounded. I spent the afternoon removing a mature burning bush, that had not a sign of insect life on it, nor any leave eaten and made a home for our new plants.

    We will write each homeowner and thank them, but thanks to you Pat for making a difference and making the time to help educate us and expose us to an entirely different world of gardening.

    Kevin & Kathe Stepanuk

    1. Kevin & Kathe, so glad you could join us for Friday’s Tour of Private Wildlife Gardens. And HOW VERY NEAT that a butterfly found your new baby milkweed gift plants from one of the garden owners. WOW – what a stamp of approval! Thank you so much for sharing. Too, too sweet! I look forward to seeing you again. Pat

  2. I am in Missouri. When I look at plants not from my usual source, I write down the brand name, then come home and research that brand. What an education! A lot of what is sold around here is Proven Winners. My search gave me a direct hit for PW and neonicotinoids, “Protecting Pollinators in the Garden.” https://www.provenwinners.com/Bees. This was from April 2014 and the policy may have changed. There was an impressive header from Michigan State University. I was thinking, Great! But then I continued reading. “At this time insecticide use is NOT considered to be a direct cause of Colony Collapse Disorder.” I might have put “DIRECT” in caps, too, but that’s just me. Anyway, I’ve learned that plants are often started by one grower and “finished” by another so you have to do thorough research.
    I understand that now some of the big box stores are labeling whether neonics were used or not.

  3. Someone called me from a Linwood Arboretum listing to ask about landscapers who know how to replace lawn with natives. Do you know of any in the area?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *