Here at the Optimist Daily, we never tire of sharing stories that help garden-lovers and green thumbs continue cultivating their gardening habits. Gardening, or even just spending time in a garden, doesn’t just offer people several physical and mental health benefits, but gardens can potentially be part of a key solution to our planet’s problems.
Right now, one of the biggest challenges we face today is mass species extinction and the distressing loss of biodiversity—problems that are spurred on by human activity and Anthropocene-induced climate change. However, if you have a garden, then you have an opportunity to play a role in ensuring that endangered plant species that are native to your area continue to survive.
Currently, one in five of the world’s plants are at risk of extinction, which amounts to more than 4,000 plant species in the US alone. Plus, new research from the Conservation Biology shows that more than triple the number of plants is extinct in the US and Canada than experts thought, and some at-risk plants are only grown within botanical gardens and not out in the wild. This means that dedicated gardeners play a crucial role in preserving the existence of some of these plants.
Growing and propagating endangered native species
While growing rare and endangered plants is probably not an appropriate task for beginners, and may also be out of reach for those without a garden, other gardeners with extensive experience in horticulture can challenge themselves by propagating specific species that are well suited to their region.
This will involve careful experimentation and oversight, as well as good record keeping and documentation of your findings. If you wish to help conserve our world’s biodiversity in this way, it’ll be important to follow strict guidelines to make a worthwhile impact.
Sponsoring plant conservation
The Center for Plant Conservation (CPC) has a Rare Plant Finder tool that US residents can use to find out which plants in their area are at risk and which have conservationists working to ensure their survival.
If you are not a very experienced gardener but wish to contribute to the cause, you can still support other master horticulturalists in their quest. If you’re in the US, then you can sponsor a rare plant in your area through the CPC.
Growing native plants, creating native habitats
Even if you can’t commit to cultivating a rare and endangered native plant species in your garden, you can still ensure that your garden provides environmental conditions that allow native plants to flourish there.
Focusing on native plant gardens, especially those that provide key ecological niches, can help spur on the biodiversity of your region. Plus, if there are more native plants grown in any area, then the wildlife native to that area will also benefit.
While conservation gardening is quite a commitment, ordinary gardeners can still support the cause by growing a garden with as many native plants as possible that attracts as much native wildlife as possible. This is a small but mighty way to combat biodiversity loss.