Thursday, January 10, 2019

FAQ: Collecting Native Plants From The Wild

Galax urceolata and Chimaphila maculata (center)

Hi. I want to collect native plants from the wild to transplant to my garden. Do you have any tips on how to go about it?

WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! WARNING!

First, let me say that collecting native plants from the wild might not be a good idea. If everyone did it, the populations of some native plants would be diminished. But, actually, very few do it, so you might not have much of an impact.

Secondly, many native plants are protected by federal, state and local governments. You could get into a whole heap of trouble if you started digging whatever strikes your fancy.

Thirdly, many federal, state and local lands are protected and closely guarded by their respective governments; national and state parks, for example. Collecting rocks, minerals, plants, animals, fossils, antiquities, and your neighbor's camping equipment is strictly forbidden.

Fourthly, you mustn't collect plants from private properties without the owners' permissions.

Fifthly, collected plants might not survive the collection and transplanting process. They'd be much happier if left alone.

Sixthly, collected plants might host pests and diseases that you'd rather not have in your garden. Quarantining can be a long and disappointing process.

But, if you are able to navigate the difficulties, get permission, etc., here are some quick tips:

  1. Study the plants that you intend to collect, i.e. know before you go;
  2. Collect during the dormant season;
  3. Get as much of the root system as possible;
  4. Keep the roots moist from start to finish;
  5. Avoid exposing plants to the air, bright light, freezing temperature and the elements before transplanting;
  6. From collection to transplanting, keep the time short;
  7. Plant your acquisition in a site that is as nearly like its native habitat as possible, considering soil structure, light exposure, plant community and moisture level;
  8. Plant at the same depth that your acquisitions were growing before;
  9. Soak the soil immediately after planting so it is in close contact with the roots;
  10. Do not let fertilizer contact any plant tissue;
  11. Provide appropriate care and maintenance.

I hope this helps.

There's always more that could be said, so if any of you gentle readers would like to comment, please do so in the comment section  provided. We'd love to hear from you.

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