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Natives: New! Better! Improved!

Meredith Clebsch - Nursery Propagated Native Plants, 5737 Fisher Lane, Greenback, TN 37742.

From: Exotic Pests of Eastern Forests, Conference Proceedings - April 8-10, 1997, Nashville, TN, Edited by: Kerry O. Britton, USDA Forest Service & TN Exotic Pest Plant Council

Stumbling Blocks:

  • Lack of knowledge-it's a whole new idea for many.
    • rarely taught in school.
    • landscapers interested but ignorant.
    • landscape managers interested but ignorant.
    • homeowners interested but ignorant.
  • Image of natives replacing exotics creates nursery industry paranoia.
  • Availability-a major frustration as demand rapidly increases.
  • Government regulation-'forced' to use natives with little help = bad vibes.
  • Natives may not be the answer in every situation.
  • Horticulture=new plants. Must work with the industry.
  • Nursery industry-generally conservative. Natives are 'progressive.'
  • Will take time.
  • Local ordinances-defining "weeds."
  • Water use issues less pronounced than in the west.

Building Support

  • Education-involve schools, scouts, garden clubs, prisons... in management. (Issue a Sand County Almanac to every child and to new homeowners?)
  • Public demand (i.e., $$$) will sway the market. It already has.
  • Understanding the big picture should be stressed.
  • Long term as apposed to short term thinking must be learned.
  • Notion of 'stewardship' should be instilled.
  • Provide demonstration sites. Visual. Interactive.
  • Provide specific instructions for work crews.
  • Government agencies need a "Regional Plant Communities Coordinator" to communicate ideas.
  • Focus on groups that benefit from use of native plants:
    • hunters
    • birders
    • most outdoor recreationists
    • maintenance departments
    • tax payers
    • corporate image
    • gardeners-better balance of pests/beneficials
    • children
    • homeowners

Ordinances for building and construction: leave the natives, have an education package for new homeowners. Get them involved in the beginning.

"Sell the sizzle!"

  • Sell them benefits, not plants.
  • Don't have to always emphasize just "native."
  • What are the tangible benefits?
    • Functional natural beauty
    • biodiversity
    • healthy
    • Fun! Relaxing! -a feel good landscape
    • educational
  • Treat them as mainstream.
  • Intelligent landscaping-"You've made a smart choice"
  • Creation-not destruction of habitats
  • Good for the planet
  • Shortterm vs. longterm benefits
  • Sustainable non-consumptive

Don't just sell to them, Teach them

  • Give people the real facts, the BIG picture, and let them decide
  • Stress fewer exotics, not none.
  • Choose plants carefully so buyers succeed.
  • Local and regional 'plant' organizations should provide lists and
  • current info to guide nurseries, landscapers and homeowners.
  • Help them identify problem plants.
  • Be patient.
USDA Forest ServiceUSDA APHIS PPQ The Bugwood Network University of Georgia is a joint project of The Bugwood Network, USDA Forest Service and USDA APHIS PPQ.
The University of Georgia - Warnell School of Forest Resources and
College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences - Dept. of Entomology
Last updated on Thursday, March 21, 2002 at 11:11 AM
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