Native plant trend continues
RINER, Va. — Landscape designers, garden centers and gardeners will be looking for native plants to meet their needs this coming growing season.
Isaac Brantingham, head grower at Riverbend Nursery, which serves the Mid-Atlantic region, said the nursery grows more than 275 native plants that they sell to independent landscapers and garden centers.
“From a sales prospective, there is more demand for native plant material due to an environmentally conscious consumer,” Jonathan Cottle, vice president of sales and marketing at Riverbend, said. “Today’s customer is not only concerned with instant curb appearance, but also being a responsible land steward and appreciates the natural beauty native plant material provides.”
The demand for the native plants is driven by increased awareness to boost native pollinator populations and other wildlife.
Demand for native plants, combined with the effects of the recession a decade ago, still has many growers facing a shortage in trees to fill their orders.
“There’s not enough material in the pipelines,” said Greg Miller of Willow Spring Tree Farm in Montgomery County, Va.
He said the recession several years ago cut down on planting and now that people are wanting trees to plant the trees are not there.
Miller said there are not enough liners currently available to put out in the fields.
“There’s a big demand for native plants,” Miller said.
In the tree industry, red cedars and Virginia pines, were once looked upon as weed trees but he now sees growing demand for them.
Other native trees such as oaks and sassafras are among those consumers are buying as well.
Brantingham said all the natives at Riverbend are perennials. They have sold some grasses and water for storm water control noting they have landed several large contracts for native plants for this kind of landscaping.
Among the groups urging the use of native plants across Virginia are the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, the Virginia Costal Management Program with funding from NOAA and Members of the Public-Private Virginia Plants Marketing Partnership.
These groups joined to sponsor advertising in the “2018 Guide to Virginia Growers,” a publication of the Virginia Nursery and Landscape Association.
“We all need pollinators and they need more Virginia Natives,” the ad read. “Plant species that are native to Virginia support a much greater diversity of wildlife spaces than the non-native plants we typically see installed in our landscapes.”
They cite the evidence that native insects are “uniquely adapted to native plants with which they co-evolved.”
The groups are known to call upon the growers, landscape designers and gardeners to use native plants to create beneficial habitat for pollinators such as bees and butterflies.
“The future of our human food sources and the success of our agriculture and horticulture industries depends on the services of these invaluable insects,” the groups said.
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