Become a Plant Guardian and help save threatened plants
This is an opportunity for any Plant Heritage member to be directly involved in garden plant conservation.
If a plant is rare enough it can be put forward for Plant Guardianship.
Why do certain plants become rare?
There many reasons: some are just out of fashion so no longer offered by growers, some are difficult to propagate so are not commercially viable, some are difficult or slow to grow, and some new cultivars just never become popular.
By registering a plant Plant Heritage knows that these plants still exist in a member’s care somewhere.
Who can become a Plant Guardian?
Any Plant Heritage member, in fact the more the merrier.
As Plant Heritage members live across the British Isles and garden in a diverse set of environmental conditions it is possible to find suitable locations to grow plants which others might find difficult. Your dry or wet, heavy soil or coastal growing conditions may be just what is needed. If more readily available plants thrive in your garden then the rarer ones may well do so too.
How do you become a Plant Guardian?
To put a plant into guardianship there are three key points.
First you must know the correct name for your plant.
Second it must not be readily available from nurseries listed in the RHS Plant Finder. If there is just one supplier or only a last listed date then it is likely to be considered threatened in cultivation.
Plant Heritage has access to data on which plants are growing in most of the key gardens in the British Isles, so as well as checking if a plant is available in the Plant Finder it is also checked against known plants growing in these gardens.
Rare plants will fit into one of three categories:
- Vulnerable in Cultivation (plants are growing in three or more sites)
- Endangered in Cultivation (plants grown in only one or two gardens), or
- Critically Endangered in Cultivation (not listed as growing in any of these gardens).
There is more information about these categories on the Plant Heritage website under Threatened Plants.
Third you need to be a member of Plant Heritage to register plants.
What can PHNE members do?
In PHNE group we want to encourage members to participate in this scheme.
- If you already grow something rare please consider registering your plants.
- If you have a list of the plants you grow please check them against the latest version of the RHS Plant Finder and see if you can identify something rare.
- If you receive a red label plant from the Plant Exchange please register the plant.
- If you would like to be involved but do not have anything rare enough we will try and find a suitable plant for you to register.
- If you have a rare plant in your garden but do not want to be a Plant Guardian you can pass on a division or cutting so that someone else in the group could register the plant.
Please contact Faith or Roz at one of the meetings to discuss any of the above, or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What happens to plants in Guardianship?
It is hoped that plants in Guardianship will be propagated and shared with other members of Plant Heritage. Most members who have registered plants will be keen to make their chosen plants more widely available and are happy to propagate these at whatever pace suits the plant and themselves. If you have a rare plant but are not able to propagate it yourself PHNE will also try to help with this.
So far PHNE group have the following in Guardianship
- 1 Achillea cultivar
- yet another plant
- 5 Aeonium species and cultivars
- 1 Argyranthemun cultivar
- 4 Begonia cultivars
- 1 Bergenia cultivar
- 1 Berkheya cultivar
- 1 Brunnera cultivar
- 1 Epimedium cultivar
- 1 Erysimum cultivar
- 2 Francoa cultivars
- 1 Galanthus cultivar
- 1 Gladiolus cultivar
- 1 Hebe cultivar
- 1 Hosta cultivar
- 3 Iris cultivars
- 3 Miscanthus cultivars
- 5 Pelargonium cultivars
- 1 Potentilla fruticosa cultivar
- 1 Rheum cultivar
- 2 Rosa cultivars
- 1 Solidago cultivar
- 2 Symphyotrichum (syn. Aster) cultivars
If you'd like to see pictures of some of the plants in guardianship with Plant Heritage North East, have a look at our gallery. More pictures will be added as we get them.
How many guardians can there be for a plant?
There can be several guardians for rare plants, until there are so many that the plant is no longer rare!
What if a plant is in a national collection?
Plants in National Collections can also be in Guardianship and can then be thought of as a backup for the National Collection.
What if I register a plant and then it dies?
It is understood that adverse weather, disease or other factors can result in a plant death. The Guardianship list is reviewed regularly and plants are removed from this list if no longer held. Hopefully the plant will have been propagated and passed on to others so not permanently lost to cultivation.