Restoring Habitat through Open-Pollinated, Local-Ecotype (OPLE) Native Plants
Open-pollinated plants – plants pollinated by by insects, animals, wind, or other natural processes – allow for genetic diversity and greater amount of variation within plant populations. Open pollination allows plants to adapt to changing climate and changes in local conditions.
ArcheWild, now one of the largest native plant nurseries on the east coast, is an ecological restoration firm with a mission dedicated to environmental stewardship. ArcheWild propagates native plants from seed sources located within the Northern Piedmont and surrounding ecoregions. Our desire at Good Host Plants is to provide the best possible native plants for gardening and restoration projects, not simply the native cultivars commonly found in garden centers, and believe genetic provenance to be of utmost importance.
Many garden centers offer native plants without knowing their genetic origins. Plant geneticists know that each EPA ecoregions essentially has its own unique gene pool for this species and that mixing genes results in reduced fitness in indigenous populations. In our rush to use native plants, we could inadvertently be on a path to cause a net decline in native plant population due to unnatural genetic dispersal. The newest thinking is to use local seed and plant suppliers that have access to or are already growing stock from genetics collected within the ecoregions that a project is being built.
If you like native plants, we got the good stuff.
In addition to good genetics of regional provenance, our plants are selected for wildlife value. Many of our species are specified as beneficial to pollinators by the Xerces Society, best bets to attract butterflies and moths in the US mid-Atlantic region by Doug Tallamy, and identified as native to Philadelphia in the Fairmount Park System Natural Lands Restoration Master Plan. These designations are indicated on our species list.
Commitment to Sustainability and Environmentally-Friendly Growing Methods
We grow our native plants without the use of pesticides or herbicides. We do not use neonicotinoids in any form, and do not purchase plants from other growers who utilize neonicotinoids in their production. All plants are seed-grown and we strongly discourage the practice of poaching of native wildflowers.
For 2017, we’re using Organic Mechanics organic, peat-free potting mix for our potted plants. Peat moss is the partially-decomposed remains of sphagnum moss from bogs. It is a non-renewable resource, in that it takes thousands of years to form, and the process of mining peat disturbs precious habitat for birds, amphibians, reptiles, and beneficial insects.
We do not use hormones to inhibit growth of our plants to make them more presentable in the nursery. Some of our plants may become leggy in their pots or require pruning while in the nursery. We try to keep things as natural and organic as possible, so spraying or treating with chemical without knowing their full impact on insects and pollinators is not worth the risk of a better presentation, in our opinion.