Even among seasoned gardeners such as ourselves, we don't always think of native plants as the first choice when suggesting good candidates for a customer's garden. We're drawn to the latest designer hybrids and introductions we see coming into our garden centers—and for good reason! They are shiny and new.
However, customers who aren't familiar with our 'horticouture' world are trusting our recommendations, and we can choose to display the benefits of plants that never make the covers of garden magazines. It's important that we mix it up. We can recommend a few rising stars, but also include some reliable background singers. This way, we have provided them with a healthy balance for their garden that doesn't include a lot of high maintenance divas.
People think of natives as weeds growing in roadside ditches.
FACT: Most of what we see taking over areas that are not regularly maintained are invasive 'alien' species introduced from somewhere else in the world.
Many believe they bring undesirable pests into the garden.
FACT: Yes and no. Native plants do indeed attract insects to the garden, but for the most part, these 'bugs' are the good guys! Pollinators are essential to our ecosystems and should be encouraged to visit our landscapes.
Often the idea that if a plant is a 'native,' it can be treated with a plant-it-and-forget-it attitude.
FACT: We know that once any plant is well-established, it requires less fussing over, but we need to consider the environment we planted it in as well. Natives that thrive in one part of the country may suffer in another due to the winter hardiness zone and climate.
The idea that natives are "plain Jane" shrubs that blend in with the background is predominant, even among non-gardeners.
FACT: There are so many gorgeous plants being produced out there that it's easy to forget about the rich tapestry of beauty growing right in our own backyard. Some of the most spectacular plants are those that are self-made the natural way!
Teach your selling team to address these myths if they come up in conversations with customers. The more your customers learn the truth behind the plants they're looking to buy, the more likely they are to realize how much more native plants can offer.