For two decades, a public-private partnership has successfully pushed the Show-Me State's native plants as a source of beauty, ecology and even an important part of the food chain.
Grow Native! started as a joint effort between the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and the Missouri Department of Agriculture. For 11 years, they developed marketing, education, programming and even native plant tags to increase their prominence. They also fostered the creation of the Missouri Native Seed Association to ensure availability of source-identified, plentiful native seed.
In 2012, the Missouri Prairie Foundation, a 54-year-old nonprofit conservation organization, has taken over the program and expanded it to surrounding states.
Just like the state's Buy Missouri program promotes Missouri-made products, the Grow Native! program encourages gardening and landscaping with native plants as a way to benefit the land, biodiversity and people.
Monarch butterflies, bees and songbirds are just some of the wildlife that depend on native plants to survive. But the program say that for most of the history of European settlement in the United States, exotic plants like hostas and petunias have been the mainstay of home landscaping.
In a news release, the Missouri Prairie Foundation touted the importance of native plants importance of native plants to healthy ecosystems, pollinators, and a stable food supply for people. This has been elevated nationally in recent years, with public concern over the dramatic decline of monarch butterflies and populations of native bees and other pollinating insects.
We commend the public and private organizations that have grown the Grow Native! program over the past two decades. To find out more about the program and about native plants, visit grownative.org.
We also encourage the public, while spring planting is on your mind, to consider planting native plants in your gardens and landscaping.