Getting Native Plants Into Your Garden

Getting Native Plants Into Your Garden

  • By Bernice Thieblot
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  • April 2020-Vol.6 No. 4
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  • 1 Comment


Native plants are hot! The beauty, practicality, and value to the natural world of plants that have co-evolved with local insects and animals is undisputed.

  • Authors such as Doug Tallamy, Rick Darke, and Larry Weaner build a compelling case for bringing native plants into the home landscape. Their books, with titles such as Bringing Nature Home, The Living Landscape, and Garden Revolution, are bestsellers.
  • Doug Tallamy has a new book —Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Yard.
  • Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond last year replaced 5,300 square feet of turf outside its library with native plants, and native plants figure prominently in plans for Charlottesville’s new McIntire Botanical Garden.
  • The nearby Quarry Gardens at Schuyler, a 40-acre botanical garden showcasing some 600 species native to its immediate area, last year provided 108 guided tours for the public—which included students, gardeners, naturalists, environmentalists, landscape designers, hikers, and visitors from across the Commonwealth and beyond.


There is plenty of interest in native plants. The problem is to meet gardeners’ and landscapers’ demand for them—and annual one-day native plant sales are not enough.  Help is on the way, so read on.


Coming Soon to Garden Centers and Nurseries Near You — More Native Plants

During 2020, a coalition of 21 organizations led by the Piedmont Environmental Council will launch an extension of the “Plant Virginia Natives” campaign for our region. Ten counties and the City of Charlottesville, under the banner “Plant Northern Piedmont Natives,” will be promoting public awareness of the value of native plants and working with growers, nurseries, and garden centers to make more natives available.  So keep an eye on the website developed by the Plant Virginia Natives website, hosted by the Virginia Native Plant Marketing Partnership,  Plant Virginia and on

Piedmont Master Gardeners is a partner in the Plant Northern Piedmont Natives (PNPN) campaign. Our volunteers will be engaging with local plant sellers to make them aware of the best natives for this area, and to help them market native plants with signs and plant markers.

Piedmont Native Plants: A Guide for Landscapes and Gardens

The PNPN campaign will promote nearly 200 straight species of plants that grow natively in the Northern Piedmont and are listed in the newly reprinted Piedmont Native Plants: A Guide for Landscapes and Gardens. A printed copy of the guide can be purchased for $10.00 at The Shop at Monticello, Ivy Nursery, the Wintergreen Nature Foundation, on tour days at The Quarry Gardens at Schuyler, and at the office of the Thomas Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District. The 127-page guide also may be found as a downloadable PDF at or downloaded free or purchased online at VaNativePlantSociety/Va.NativePlantGuides

So—you may expect greater availability and more choices of native plants in the near future. In the meantime, read on for some additional sources of native plants.  For a statewide list of sources, check Plant Nurseries.

Local Retailers of Native Plants

Some local non-specialized garden centers and nurseries, such as Eltzroth and Thompson, Fifth Season, Snow’s, and Southern States, carry some Piedmont natives and are likely to offer more in the near future. They may not have to go far to find them: Twinleaf Native Nursery in Lovingston, Nelson County, is a new wholesale nursery in its first season of propagating and growing local native genotypes for the retail trade.

Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants
The Center for Historic Plants’ mission is to keep alive plant species that Jefferson admired—and he was a great importer of exotics. Nevertheless, a good selection of natives is offered at The Museum Shop at Monticello, which has an online ordering option.  Display gardens and nurseries are at Tufton Farms, 1293 Tufton Farm, Charlottesville, open seasonally and for special events.
Information: for Historic Plants.  Online shopping link:


The following retailers are specialized to native plants:

Hummingbird Hill Native Plant Nursery
4190 Free Union Road
Charlottesville VA 22901
Humming Bird Hill Natives on Facebook
Hummingbird Hill regularly carries up to 250 straight species of regional natives. Contact in advance for availability. Pre-ordering is recommended. Discounts for large quantity purchases. Some plugs available. Will contract grow.

At this time, the website advises as follows:  “Plants are available to be reserved for pickup. Please email us for more information:”

Little Bluestem
40 Farfields Lane
Afton VA 22902
Little Bluestem is an extension of the non-profit Farfields Farm, which offers educational programming focused on ecology and land-based skills. The nursery propagates plants from seeds of nearly 100 locally-native species, many gathered from the Quarry Gardens at Schuyler and other sites surveyed by the Center for Urban Habitats. Primarily plugs are offered, but also pots. Delivery within 15 miles can be arranged.

Wintergreen Nature Foundation
Plants are propagated from seeds, plant division, and cuttings using only native plants from approved Wintergreen and neighboring sites as sources. Sales are by appointment at Trillium House or the Greenhouse on Beech Grove Road, Roseland, ½ mile west of Devil’s Backbone Brewery.
Information: email:  phone: 434-325-8169

Online retailer:

Izel Plants
This online retailer of plants from multiple nurseries offers over 700 Virginia native species. To check whether a species is native to your county, see the Digital Atlas of the Virginia Flora:

Area Plant Sales by Local Organizations

Chapters of the Virginia Native Plant Society and other gardening groups hold annual seasonal sales in many locations throughout the Commonwealth. These non-profits use proceeds from sales to support their educational outreach programs. At this time it is clear that most, if not all, of these sales will be cancelled, though they may be rescheduled later in the year.  The following sales usually occur in our area:

Jefferson Chapter, Virginia Native Plant Society
The Native Plant Sale that was scheduled for spring of 2020 has been cancelled, but it may be rescheduled in the autumn.  Ordinarily, this sale features over 1,000 native plants, with emphasis on spring ephemerals.

Nelson County Master Gardeners
About 700 plants dug from members’ gardens, including some natives.
May 9, 2020, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Rockfish Valley Community Center, 190 Rockfish School Lane, Afton VA

Piedmont Master Gardeners and Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards
Nearly 2,000 native plants are usually included in the sale of more than 4,000. Plants are from members’ gardens and approved, ethical native plant nurseries.  Usually held in early May; this year’s sale has been cancelled.

Wintergreen Nature Foundation
Plants propagated at Wintergreen are available at spring, summer, and fall sales. At this time the website lists the following sale dates:

Saturday, April 11,  9am to 1pm at TWNF Greenhouse, located ½ mile west of The Ski Barn on Beech Grove Road/Rt. 664
Saturday, April 25,  9am to 1pm at  TWNF Greenhouse
Saturday, May 16, 9am to 2pm at Trillium House, 3421 Wintergreen Drive
Saturday, May 30,  9am to 1pm at TWNF Greenhouse

The Wintergreen Nature Foundation website currently contains the following statement:

“Since our April 11 plant sale is held outside enabling us to maintain social distance, we plan to have that sale. Note that plants can also be ordered online via email at or by calling 434-325-8169. We will set your plants aside for pick up after hours.”

To check on the status of a scheduled sale or to purchase plants at other times, call 434-325-8169. For more information check the TWNF website





  1. Jamie Ballenger

    The landlord of the apartment where I live has given me permission to plant some day lilies and other natives on my ruggedly mulched front yard. This list is very helpful. The yard is presided over by a mature silver maple, and creates a woodland setting I hope to enhance and enlarge. It slopes down to some patios, and onward into a more boggy woodland setting. I am hoping to make Tallamy’s vision come into being with one-yard at a time as he proclaims. Some of the other tenants are interested as well. Thank you for this work. Pax, jb

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