What are native and non-native plants?
Gardeners in the UK often use a combination of plants from around the world.
Some plants grown by gardeners are classed as native, meaning they occur naturally in the Britain (i.e. have not been introduced by humans). Other garden plants originate from regions outside Britain, perhaps only from elsewhere in Europe or similar temperate regions of Asia or North America. Or they may originate from southerly regions such as South Africa or Australia where the climate and habitat may be very different from that in Britain. We have such a rich choice of plants in UK horticulture, thanks in no small part to the legacy of plant hunters who brought back many new and interesting plants from their travels.
When talking about plant origins we have divided them into three categories - one native and two non-native;
- British (native)
- Northern hemisphere excluding Britain (non-native – Northern)
- Southern hemisphere (non-native – Southern or 'exotics')
Does a plant's origin affect how well it supports pollinating insects?
Many gardeners are keen to encourage insects into a garden, especially those that help pollinate our flowers and fruit. Some of these pollinators have been in decline so the more we can optimise a garden for them through our plant choice, the better.
Native plants would seem to be the obvious choice to support our native pollinators but with so many non-native plants also grown in gardens and little known about their benefit to wildlife, the answer to this question has remained unclear. Below are the findings and recommendations to gardeners from recent research.