The Native Plant Source That You Didn’t Know About

The Native Plant Source That You Didn't Know About,

The Native Plant Source That You Didn't Know About,

Purchasing plants can get expensive.

Purchasing native plants can be even more expensive as they are not usually carried by mass retailers (although they are starting to change). So, how can you help wildlife, and stay within your budget? Your state’s Department of Natural Resources may be able to help.

Autumn is the best time for planting native trees and shrubs. Because of this, it’s also when State grown conservation seedlings go on sale! But what are they, and how can it save you money?

“Autumn is the best time for planting native trees and shrubs.”

Conservation seedlings are grown at State Tree Nurseries across the country. It is your state’s way of providing low-cost, locally adapted native plants for reforestation, Christmas tree farms and wildlife use. They are grown with your tax dollars – so take advantage of it!

But what are they exactly?

Conservation seedlings are very young plants grown for sale in bulk. You will not be receiving large potted trees. These are small, bare root plants that are about a foot high.

How are they better than plants from a garden center?

1.Conservation seedlings are a great purchase because planting small bare root trees in the fall or winter makes for a more healthy tree over the long run.

Your tree will establish faster than a potted tree so it grows quicker and requires less watering from you over the years. If you want to learn more about bare root trees, check out my article How to Choose a Tree for Your Backyard.

Plant small bare root trees in fall or winter. Click To Tweet

2.Conservation seedlings are easy on the wallet.

Many states sell seedlings for about $1 each. They require a minimum order size (usually 5 or 10). So instead of paying $20 for a single potted tree you can spend $10 for 10 trees. If you don’t need the minimum order size, you may be able to split the order with a friend. While some states require the plants be used by the purchaser only, many do not have this rule.

3.Conservation seedlings purchased from your state have been adapted to your area.

This means the seedling will do better in your soil, with your weather than a seedling purchased from another state.

4.Conservation seedlings purchased from your state can be picked up instead of shipped.

This saves you big on shipping. If you still have to ship the seedlings, the prices tend to be low. Since they are bare root, they are not as heavy as potted trees saving you on shipping.

5.Conservation seedlings are available in a wide selection of plants.

Whether you are looking for an evergreen windblock, a nut bearing tree or a flowering shrub, you can find a conservation seedling to fit your needs.

Notable seedlings offered that are not usually available at a retail outlet are:

For the East: Buttonbush, Alterante Leaf Dogwood, Nannyberry, Fragrant Sumac, Norther Bayberry, Northern Catalapa, American Larch, Red Pine

For the West: Redstem Ceanothus, Golden Current, Wood’s Rose, Oakleaf Sumac, Mountain Boxwood, Black Cottonwood, Bigtooth Maple, Bristlecone Pine, Black Hills Spruce

Below is a sampling of some of the native plants you can purchase.

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Where to Purchase

It is best to purchase from your state’s seedling nursery as the plants are adapted to your growing conditions; however, sometimes you can’t. Unfortunately, Ohio closed their seedling nursery so I have to look elsewhere for conservation seedlings. The great news is lots of states allow residents from other states to order from them. I have personally ordered from New Hampshire and Idaho and have been very impressed with their plants. This year I ordered from Missouri and can’t wait for my new shrubs!

States that ship to other states


Where do you get your native plants? Tell me in the comments!

Paige Nugent

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