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5 common gardening mistakes endangering native plants

ByDave Stopher

Aug 27, 2021

Are your gardening habits harming the UK’s endangered plants?

With one in six woodland flower species threatened with extinction while a shocking 97 percent of wildflower meadows lost since the 1930s, the UK’s plant biodiversity is in decline.

But gardening sustainably is possible as is soon to be proven at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show with the event’s first-ever fully organic show garden set to be featured.

The plant experts at abcFlora reveal the homegrown gardening mistakes that could be hurting the UK’s most vulnerable plant species.

Buying from illegal sellers

‘Knowledge is power’, so being aware of the issue is the first step to rectifying the problem.

Unfortunately, plant theft and the illegal selling of rare, endangered plants is a growing global issue many aren’t aware of, with the internet’s love of succulents causing a dramatic increase in plant poaching throughout South Africa.

Take care to do your research and only buy plants from established nurseries and garden centres to avoid contributing to the problem.

If you’re still looking to get your rare plant fix, consider visiting botanic gardens to learn about vulnerable plant species and donate to their conservation efforts.

Should you be lucky enough to stumble across one of the UK’s rarest plant species out in the wild, you must steer well clear to prevent any unintentional damage to both the plant and its habitat.

It is against the law to pick, uproot or destroy any wild plant or any seed of that plant, with additional laws such as the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 in place to protect plants classed as endangered.

Intentionally picking or damaging these plants could cost you an eye-watering £5,000 and six months jail time, so it’s always best to stay away and report any listed plant sightings to your local authority who will work to protect and preserve the plant.

Not allowing nature to take its course

Striking a balance between maintenance and messiness can be tricky but over-gardening can have a detrimental effect on the UK’s plant biodiversity.

Often the best solution is to not interfere, so the easiest way you can help protect the UK’s most vulnerable plant species is to simply allow mother nature to work her magic.

Allow grass to reach full maturity before cutting to encourage a wider variety of flowers to grow. Reducing the amount you cut your grass to just once every four weeks will produce enough nectar to support 10 times more bees and other pollinators than lawns that are cut more regularly.

Try to avoid using herbicides and pesticides in your garden since these can accidentally kill endangered plant species by contaminating the soil and water.

If you’re having problems with pests, inviting predators into your garden is a sustainable solution. Try leaving bird feeders near plants that are particularly appetising to bugs – the birds will take care of them for you!

Using unsustainable gardening materials

Though peat is fantastic organic compost material long favoured by many gardeners for helping young plants develop, mining peat bogs destroys the natural habitat for many species of plants and animals alike.

Thankfully, the sale of peat compost will soon be banned from 2024, but in the meantime, you can choose more sustainable options such as peat-free compost.

Global warming is one of the leading causes of plant extinction, but you can reduce your garden’s carbon footprint by shopping locally or opting for reclaimed landscaping materials. Instead of importing paving materials, consider using waste building materials such as brick for unique hardscaping projects.

Growing exotic, invasive plants

Invasive plants wreak havoc on native ecosystems and can displace native plants, reducing the diversity of plant species. Studies have also found exotic species may also harm pollinators,

Planting native flowers will encourage other native plants to grow too, particularly if there are species in your region that have become endangered due to invasive plants.

Creating wildflower havens requires minimal effort and has the added benefit of welcoming pollinators, inspiring new varieties of plant species to grow, and may spread the seed of endangered plants to other areas.