Natives vs. Nativars: Bridging the Gap Between Native Plants and Modern Gardening

In our modern world, the preservation and restoration of natural ecosystems have become vital considerations. When it comes to landscaping and gardening, one significant choice to make is between native plants and nativar plants. Native plants are plants that have existed in a specific region for thousands of years, while nativar plants are cultivated varieties that have been bred from native species. This blog aims to shed light on the characteristics, benefits, and considerations associated with both native plants and nativar plants, encouraging a thoughtful approach to gardening that embraces the beauty and sustainability of our natural landscape and ecosystems.


Understanding Native Plants - 

Native plants, as the name suggests, are species that naturally occur in a particular region or ecosystem. They have adapted over time to the local climate, soil conditions, and wildlife interactions. Native plants have a long-standing relationship with the environment and the wildlife that depends on them for food, shelter, and nesting. They often possess unique features and are well-suited to local environmental conditions, requiring minimal maintenance once established. By incorporating native plants into our landscapes, we can help preserve biodiversity and create habitats for native insects, birds, and other wildlife. 

Some natives that we commonly carry during certain seasons at our garden centers are swamp milkweed, coreopsis, fringe trees, mountain mint, live oak, sea oats, and more. Check in with our stores by giving them a call to see what we have in stock currently. 


Exploring Nativar Plants - 

Nativar plants, short for "native cultivars," are human-cultivated varieties derived from native plants. These plants have undergone selective breeding to enhance certain desirable characteristics like color, size, or disease resistance. While nativars may share some genetic traits with their native counterparts, they can exhibit significant differences in appearance, behavior, and ecological interactions. Nativar plants are generally loved for their aesthetic appeal, offering an extensive range of colors, shapes, and sizes to suit various design preferences. These plants are not a replacement for native plant gardens, however, they can provide similar benefits to the surrounding ecosystem. 


The Benefits of Native Plants - 

  • Biodiversity and Ecological Balance - 

Native plants provide essential food sources and habitats for local wildlife, including pollinators, birds, and insects. By planting native species, we help preserve the delicate balance of ecosystems and support local plants and animals.

  • Adaptation to Local Conditions - 

Native plants have adapted to thrive in specific climates, soils, and weather patterns over time. As a result, they require less water, fertilizer, and pesticide use, making them environmentally friendly and sustainable choices for landscaping.

  • Low Maintenance -

Once established, native plants tend to be low-maintenance. They are well-adapted to local conditions, reducing the need for excessive watering, pruning, or other interventions.

  • Soil Conservation - 

Native plants have deep root systems that help prevent soil erosion, improve soil structure, and enhance water infiltration. Their presence contributes to overall soil health and conservation.


Benefits of Nativar Plants - 

  • Enhanced Aesthetics - 

Nativars often offer a wider range of colors, sizes, and forms compared to their native counterparts. This diversity can provide opportunities for creative and visually stunning landscape designs, allowing homeowners and gardeners to personalize their outdoor spaces and create unique focal points.

  • Extended Blooming Periods -

 Through selective breeding, nativars can exhibit extended or repeat blooming periods. This feature can contribute to longer-lasting bursts of color in the garden, creating vibrant displays that can be enjoyed for an extended period of time.

  • Tolerance to Challenging Conditions -

Nativars can be selectively bred to tolerate specific environmental conditions such as extreme heat, drought, or poor soil quality. This adaptability can be advantageous in regions where native species may struggle or require extra care to thrive.

  • Cultural and Historical Significance - 

In some cases, nativar plants may have cultural or historical significance, representing specific breeding breakthroughs or milestones in horticulture. Growing these plants can help preserve and celebrate the human ingenuity and creativity behind their development.


Native plants and nativar plants both have their place in the world of gardening and landscaping. Native plants offer numerous benefits, including biodiversity preservation, adaptation to local conditions, and minimal maintenance requirements. On the other hand, nativar plants provide a diverse array of aesthetic options and can still support pollinators. When choosing between native plants and nativar plants, it is crucial to strike a balance that prioritizes ecological sustainability, preserves biodiversity, and ensures the long-term health of our natural environments. By embracing the heritage of native plants and appreciating their intrinsic beauty, we can create landscapes that are not only visually pleasing but also ecologically responsible. To learn more about what’s growing on during National Pollinator Week, check out our Pollinator Handbook and Mike, the Garden Guru, and his webinars with new plants, products, and expert planting advice. To keep inspired and grow with us, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok to dig into the joys of gardening!