So discouraged (natives hard to find!)

charmedApril 14, 2007

Today I called ahead to a local nusery to find out if they had 'Cranberry Viburnum' by which I meant the American Cranberry, or Viburnum Trilobum, but I didn't know I had to specify. Anyway, I got all the way out there, and it turns out the viburnum they had was European, and produced little or no berries (I'm very interested in providing berries for the birds.) I browsed a bit, and found an elderberry which I thought was native, but when I googled at home I found that it too is a European version. I'm so discouraged. It's been really hard for me to find natives, and I can't understand why there are so many non-native species of a genus that occurs here in America as well. Anyway, I haven't decided for sure what to do -- the plant tag says that the elderberry ('Sambucus nigra') does produce berries that will attract songbirds, but I have a feeling I'll be dissatisfied even so since it's not native. Has anybody else had a lot of trouble starting a native garden?

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Don't give up (or give in). It's always more rewarding to get the plant you actually wanted, and that will actually benefit wildlife. I understand your frustration at not being able to find American plants in American nurseries. It makes me wonder if nurseries in Asia carry North American natives -- to the frustration of their customers also.

Sunlight Gardens carries the Cranberry you're looking for (I just checked). I've ordered lots of natives from them and have been pleased. They're in East Tennessee. I've included a link to them.

Prairie Moon Nursery ( carries the elderberry you're looking for.


Here is a link that might be useful: American Cranberry Bush

    Bookmark   April 14, 2007 at 10:37PM
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By the way, the native elderberry, what was known as Sambucus canadensis, has been reclassified as Sambucus nigra subspecies canadensis (and I'm sure some people don't include the subspecies designation).

Where are you located? Perhaps people near you can recommend sources for native plants.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sambucus

    Bookmark   April 15, 2007 at 8:58AM
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Most states have Native Plant Societies or Wildflower Organizations that can be a source of plants and/or information about nurseries that stock natives. Some NPS's have an active rescue schedule to save desireable natives from destruction at construction sites.
Many locations also have active Master Gardener organizations that conduct plant sales, which often include many local natives.
Don't ever give up, it will be worth the effort!

Here is a link that might be useful: Native Plant Societies

    Bookmark   April 15, 2007 at 11:10AM
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knottyceltic(S/W Ontario 5b)

Ya, don't give up. You can just ask your local garden center to order you in the correct species. That's what I do. They carry mostly european/asian ornamentals but know I prefer the natives so they just order them in from their supplier for me and in season, it takes only a week or two to get them in. I also grow a lot of my natives. I'm growing more highbush cran, nannyberry, elderberry, dogwoods, hoptree, black cherry and bladdernut. I have some seeds left over from last autumn's harvest if you are interested in giving them a go. Best bet is to just plant them straight into the ground as they will need a winter cold to germinate but you could also cold stratify them in your freezer and try germinating them in pots for better TLC. Either way works fine.

Send me an email if you would like some seeds.

Barb southern Ontario, CANADA

    Bookmark   April 15, 2007 at 12:31PM
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I think that Razorback33 has the right idea. Are you in Virginia? If so, their NPS has chapters in every part of the state.
Being an "educated consumer" has always worked best for me. I don't depend on the nursery staff or the plant label to identify the plant. European and American Cranberrybush are very similar and often substituted and interchanged within the trade.
Thursday night I am attending a meeting of a great botanical society (not a garden club!) which puts alot of emphasis on natives of Pennsylvania. I noticed by your memberpage that you are Quaker. The talk will be on our greatest Quaker botanist of the colonial era, John Bartram. Franklinia trees will be offered for sale. Quakers make a point of planting them around their meetinghouses. If you want to know more about the meeting refer to link. For me, organizations like this have been a great education.

Here is a link that might be useful: Muhlenberg Botanical Society

    Bookmark   April 15, 2007 at 2:49PM
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susanswoods(Z6 VA)

Don't give up but you may have to give up on finding natives at your local nurseries. I have had to mail order almost everything I plant. It's a constant annoyance to me that I have to order Virginia native plants from out of state. If you want sources I can email you or post here a long list of mail order nurseries. We-Du/Meadowbrook and Rare Find are probably the two best for shrubs.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2007 at 10:38AM
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Thanks so much for the encouragement everybody! I'm in MD, and I've found the website for a local Native Plant Society, as well as some information about upcoming native plant sales nearby. I've been reading up on native landscaping too, and trying to figure out the best things for my place -- a small, urban backyard in B'more City. Thanks again for all your encouragement and kind offers -- I'm starting from scratch so it'll take awhile, but I think I'll have a lovely native garden within a few years.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2007 at 2:07PM
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Two other good sources for native plants are Woodlanders and Mail Order Natives. These two places are much less expensive on S&H than some.

Forest Farms is just an excellent source for natives, too, but their S&H is pretty costly.

I've ordered from all 3 and find them very good.


    Bookmark   April 18, 2007 at 9:32AM
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A lot of native plant buying is done by mail order. I have added a number of good plants this way.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2007 at 5:21PM
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knottyceltic(S/W Ontario 5b)

Sambucus canadensis aka Sambucus nigra *IS* native to your location. Birds LOVE the berries on this shrub.

You mentioned height...most shrubs don't grow much taller than 10' with the average likely around the 6-8' mark for the average "larger" species of shrubs. Any larger and the thing would have to be classified as a tree ;o) A lot of the viburnums and dogwoods would stay around 5-8 feet on average and then you can always prune them as needed. Full shade shrubs grow slower and are smaller than if they are in partial shade or sun. I planted identical Witch Hazel shrubs, one in full sun the other in full shade and the difference in growth is quite remarkable.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2007 at 11:49PM
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I am also in Baltimore...there is a huge Native Plant sale the end of August each year at Irvine Science Center. Also I have a large woodland garden and would be most happy to share. I have alot of "exotics" however.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2007 at 6:45AM
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ParkFairfax Native Plant Sale is tomorrow, sorry for the short notice. It is located in Alexandria VA. I've been to it several times in April and October. You buy directly from the growers.

Here is a link that might be useful: ParkFairfax Native Plant Sale

    Bookmark   April 27, 2007 at 8:32PM
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Hi, folks. I usually lurk (seldom post) on other gardenweb forums, but had to add this. I'm going to Sun Nurseries in Woodbine (MD) today looking for American Cranberrybush Viburnum (among other things). Wish me luck.

Charmed - have you tried Sun? I was able to find Chionanthus virginicus there as well as Amelanchier arborea. Also I noticed that Behnke's down on Rt. 29 in Montgomery listed as a place to buy natives supplied by American Beauties native plants, so I'll probably look there for what I can't find at Sun. (As I recall, Behnke's is kinda pricey.) I'm in Catonsville, so these places may be closer for me, but you might want to see if they have what you're looking for. I'll report on the Viburnum when I get home.


    Bookmark   April 29, 2007 at 12:43PM
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westhighlandblue(z6 PA)

All the advice above is really good advice. In addition, I suggest that you keep a list of the plants that you'd like in your purse, by their latin name. Every now and again, you'll see those plants at a big box home improvement store or your local nursery. Last week Home Depot had American Cranberry on their shelves. And I bought my beloved Serviceberry from a local vendor. Also, this weekend, in Wilmington, DE there is a big native plant sale, at Cloverdale farm. I think Wilmington is about an hour and a half from Baltimore. That may be father than you'd be willing to travel. I grew up in Texas and Arizona, where we necessarily had to travel long distances to get what we want

    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 7:54AM
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You stumble upon natives when you least expect it. I was at our local humongous and pricey garden center, similar to Behnke's, and found dwarf Viburnum trilobum in their sale racks. I went on to pick up 6 nice shrubs and one perennial for about 50 bucks. Check up on the selections at even the pricey places, find out what they do with their plants that don't look perfect, and check their sale aisles from time to time. You'd be surprised at what you find.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 10:05AM
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Sun Nurseries does have cranberrybush viburnum. They also just got in a load of spicebush (Lindera benzoin). Otherwise, their shrub selection wasn't so hot for natives. Wish my Home Depot were a little more with it on the native shrub front. I wes there the other day for mulch and leaf-gro and the place was loaded with nothing but non-natives. (OK - so they had dogwoods). Off to Behnke's, I guess...

    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 11:23AM
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In Alexandria, VA there is a small native nursery (a few non-natives) behind a bunch of warehouses. You'd never know it was there if you didn't KNOW it was there. They are rather pricey, but have a great selection of things. It's always good to call to see if they have what is listed on the website. Sometimes they have to request plants from their other location which doesn't sell retail.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 11:56AM
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Forget to mention that they don't do mail order at Nature by Design. At least they didn't in years past.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 12:04PM
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oakleif(z6 AR)

You might be interested in seeds of native plants too. a good source is Native American Seeds.

Here is a link that might be useful: Native American Seeds

    Bookmark   May 2, 2007 at 12:54AM
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Beware of buying "natives" from places like Home Depot or Lowes... I purchased a "viburnum trilobum" (American Cranberry Bush) in fall... Then when the fall color came, I was a little suspicious, because it wasn't the vibrant colors it was supposed to be. Then when spring came and the flowers appeared, I *knew* it was NOT an American Cranberry Bush. After much research, I discovered it was viburnum opulus var. roseum, which is the sterile European Cranberry Bush with a snowball flower. So I dug up the, by then, 9 foot tall shrub and gave it to a friend (I figured it was sterile, so no harm, no foul), and replaced it with a viburnum nudum from the native plant store.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2007 at 2:13PM
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Perhaps one of the best ways to buy your plants is direct from the grower, you know, the guy who propagated them and took care of them. You can get really good, quality cultural advice too.
In Alexandria, there will be an excellent, neighborhood plant sale April 30. It is called ParkFairfax and has really evolved into a neat event.

Here is a link that might be useful: Apr 30 plant sale in Alexandria

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 9:01PM
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