Sustainable Conservation’s PlantRight Campaign

This post is part of a blogging series by marketing students at the Presidio Graduate School’s MBA program. You can follow along here.

PlantRight LogoBy Cynthia Hunter Lang

Invasive plants often outperform native plants by displacing them as well as other wildlife.  These plants are detrimental to an ecosystem because they use precious resources such as water; contribute to wildfire; and are extremely resilient.  Invasive plants are a leading threat to biodiversity, second only to habitat destruction.  In addition they come with a huge ecological cost. Californians spend more than $80 million fighting invasive plants every year.

 In 2004, Sustainable Conservation launched the PlantRight Campaign to protect California wild lands from invasive plants being introduced through horticulture.  Many stakeholder groups are part of the PlantRight Steering committee:  representatives from the nursery industry, environmental groups, government agencies, and scientists who work together to find consensus-based solutions to the issue of invasive plants. 

The two objectives of the PlantRight  campaign are:

1) to phase out the sale of PlantRight’s 19 listed invasive plants and
2) to prevent the introduction of new invasive plants. 

plant photos

Sustainable Conservation is dedicated to supporting the horticultural industry’s voluntary transition to invasive-free inventories. Through their participation in the California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers’ (CANGC) Nursery Leadership Board, PlantRight has gained access to the majority of the horticultural industry’s top 25 growers. PlantRight’s goal is to partner with industry leaders to stop the sale of invasive plants at the beginning of the supply chain.

PlantRight recommends safe and beautiful alternatives as well as information so that informed consumers can make better plant choices.  For example, going back to the images at the beginning of this post, the Hardy Geranium plant on the left is a very resilient plant that flowers from early spring through the beginning of winter.  This is a non-invasive plant whose purplish blue flowers make it a viable alternative to the invasive Periwinkle plant on the right.  To retailers, this means that there is still a market for their plants as well as the assurance that these plants will be safe and non-invasive plant alternatives.  And given how much Californians spend on eradicating invasive species, a strong business case for the elimination of invasive plants can be made. 

The PlantRight campaign is gaining momentum because of public outreach through personalized and face-to-face interaction.  Gardeners are spreading the word by passing out brochures and giving presentations to garden clubs and community groups in an effort to stop the selling and buying of invasive plants.  

Here is how you can help this social marketing effort:

  • Familiarize yourself with the safe and beautiful plant options that are available.  The websites listed below provide useful information as well as substitutable non-invasive options.
  • Send letters to local nurseries asking them to stop carrying invasive species.  Click here to download an adaptable template of a letter to nursery professionals.
  • Spread the word through social media like Facebook.  Follow Sustainable Conservation’s RSS feeds.  Be sure to Tweet about this effort.

For more information invasive plants in your area, check out the California Invasive Plant Council site.

For ideas on how to stop invasive species, visit the Center for Plant Conservation site.

Or, download the California Invasive Plant Inventory PDF.

Finally, click here to see the results of the PlantRight 2010 Spring Retail Nursery Survey.

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