Gardening with ‘native’ plants isn’t always better for the environment

I AM fascinated by how culture can colour our understanding of scientific reality, even when it comes to botany. Perhaps nowhere is this more the case than with the “native plants” debate in horticulture.

The prevailing idea is as follows: because some introduced, non-native species have caused major damage to ecosystems around the world, native plants are always a better choice for the environment. This belief has become an unquestioned part of much of popular horticultural wisdom. But where is the evidence?

In order to argue that native plants are always a superior choice, we would need to agree on …

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