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Gardeners’ Perceptions of Northwestern U.S. Native Plants Are Influenced by Ecological Information and Garden Group Affiliation

Plantings of native flowers are often installed to increase the pollinator habitat in urban and suburban gardens. However, in many regions, it is not known which native plants are best used for pollinator plantings in gardens. Candidate plants must be attractive to pollinators, but they also must have attributes that gardeners find appealing. To identify native plants that are attractive to gardeners, we disseminated two surveys. We found a high level of acceptance of native plants by home gardeners (6 of 23 flowers had a mean “likelihood of planting” score of $ 4). Additionally, gardeners stated their likelihood of planting these native species increased significantly after receiving information about the bees associated with each plant. Gardeners who identified as “native plant gardeners” stated they would be significantly more likely to garden with all native plant species. Gardeners were most concerned with flower aesthetics and the aggressiveness of growth. Many gardeners also commented that they needed more information or were unfamiliar with the plants. This study shows that native plants can have high baseline appeal to home gardeners. Specifically, we identified five native plant species that northwestern U.S. nurseries might consider growing and marketing as pollinator plants because of their high level of attractiveness to bees and home gardeners: globe gilia (Gilia capitata), california poppy (Eschscholzia californica), douglas aster (Symphyotrichum subspicatum), oregon sunshine (Eriophyllum lanatum), and common yarrow (Achillea millefolium).

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