The Q&A Archives: Sources for Native Plants & Wildflowers

Question: Do you know of resources for endangered plants and trees that homeowners might order for their own gardens in order to help the species strive?

Years ago I ordered a shad tree from a catalog, and it's the most gorgeous thing in my garden...Very hardy. When I ordered it, the catalog called it an endangered native American tree. If it's so hardy in my garden, why was (is?) it endangered? I have never seen this tree listed in any catalog since...Do you know where it might be available? Or would be unreasonable to presume that homeowners could grow some of the endangered wildflowers, etc., and thus help them survive?

Answer: It's quite reasonable to hope to grow many of the native plants in our gardens!

Shadtree or Shadbush (Amelanchier arborea) is among the loveliest of our smaller native trees and only recently has it become more widely available in the nursery trade. Among others, Wayside Gardens (1-800- 845-1124) and Carroll Gardens (1-800-638-6334) offer several varieties in their catalogs.

To be honest, truly rare and endangered plants would never be collected from the wild and offered for sale by a reputable nursery. In fact, reputable nurseries propagate their own native plants in order to avoid depleting native stands or sources. This also allows for better quality control and care of the plants they offer for sale.

As the general public becomes more interested in gardening with native plants we continue to see an increase in the number of nurseries offering them. There are also more named varieties and selections of these plants than ever before. The more public support there is for these plants, the more will be brought to market. This makes it a very exciting time to be a gardener!

A number of these plants either do not do well under nursery cultivation or are very difficult to start using commercial practices and/or away from their native surroundings. These types of plants are still available to gardeners who are willing to start them from seed. Gardeners who are able and willing to provide them with appropriate conditions will then be able to enjoy them at home....

You may find some local nurseries who offer native plants, as well, here are a few sources (in no particular order) for native plants/seeds to get you started:

Prairie Nursery, P.O. Box 306, Westfield WI 53964 (608-296-3679)

Prairie Moon Nursery, Rt.3 Box 163, Winona WI 55987 (507-452-1362)

Vermont Wildflower Farm, P.O. Box 5, Charlotte VT 05445 (802-425-3931)

Wildseed Farms, PO Box 308, Eagle Lake TX 77434 (800-848-0078)

Burpee, Warminster PA 18974 (800-888-1447)

Seeds Blum, HC33 Idaho City Stage, Boise ID 83706 (800-528-3658)

J.L. Hudson, Seedsman, Star Route 2 Box 337, La Honda CA 94020

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange P.O. Box 170, Earlysville, VA 22936 (804-973-4703)

Seeds of Change PO Box 15700, Santa Fe, NM 87506 (1-888-762-7333)

Native Seeds SEARCH 526 N. 4th Ave., Tucson, AZ 85705 (520-622-5561)

Finally, you might also find the National Wildflower Research Center helpful:

Enjoy your native plants!

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