The Role of the Retail Garden Center in Promoting Native Plants

Masters Thesis, Author Miranda Davies

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Issue October 2014 | Published 10/01/2014 · Link to Article

Finding native plants in a garden center can be a challenge. “The American Beauties Native Plants™ program was developed to brand a collection of native plants considered to be outstanding. Marketing materials allow retailers to set up displays showing customers ideally suited plants for four different types of gardens: bird, butterfly, dry/shade and moist/sun.  Native trees, shrubs, vines, grasses, and wildflowers have been grouped into these four habitat types.  The groupings of pre-selected plants make plant selection easy for the amateur who wishes to landscape with native plants and/or attract certain types of animals.”

The groupings of pre-selected plants make plant selection easy for the amateur who wishes to landscape with native plants and/or attract certain types of animals.

The Role of the Retail Garden Center in Promoting Native Plants –Masters Thesis, Author Miranda Davies

 

Increasingly, American gardeners are looking for plants that attract wildlife into their gardens. Consumers are becoming aware of the connection between pollinators and the food they eat. They are also becoming aware of the colossal damage exotic, invasive plants can do. Retail garden centers can play an important role in conservation efforts by educating staff and consumers on the benefits of native plants. The author sees the American Beauties Native Plants brand as part of the solution. Some of the findings:

 

  • More awareness and desire of native plants was found in garden centers located in cities, and less in rural areas.

  • It was reported that customers often ask for plants that attract hummingbirds and pollinator insects, with this feature being the selling point.

  • In the US 82% of invasive trees and shrubs were introduced through horticulture. (Reichard and White, 2001).

 

  • Losses resulting from invading alien species in the United States add up to almost $120 billion per year in control and removal costs. (Pimentel et al., 2005).

 

  • 42% of the species on the Threatened or Endangered species lists are at risk primarily because of alien-invasive species (Pimentel et al., 2005).

 

  • Since the early 19th century more than 200 of America's native plant species have been lost, and more than 5,500 species are endangered and so is the wildlife that depend on those species. (Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center, 2013),

 

  • Second only to habitat destruction, invasive species are the greatest threat to biodiversity. (Nature Conservancy, 2012).

 

"Promote native plants!  Be aware of what plants are native in your area!  The most disappointing find in my research was that many horticultural specialists did not know what plants are native in their area, and mistakenly thought that some imported species were native.  Be in the know!" – Miranda Davies

 

* Miranda Davies received her Masters Degree in Environmental Education from the Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College in Indiana. Her thesis is entitled: The Role of the Retail Garden Center in promoting Native Plants.  Her curiosity about this subject began in her own back yard while battling the exotic, invasive, garlic mustard. Her interest grew as she began to realize that most people and many garden centers really didn’t know the difference between exotics and native plants. Miranda has a long and varied career as an environmentalist and helicopter pilot. She has lived and worked in Alaska, New York, New Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Canada and the Caribbean.

 

To review the report in it’s entirety please contact Peggy Anne Montgomery at: peggyanne@abnativeplants.com

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