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Gardener shares concerns about 'misleading' labels on their plants: 'I really really wish people understood'

"It can be disheartening."

"It can be disheartening."

Photo Credit: iStock

Are "butterfly gardens" misleading? A new Reddit post in r/NativePlantGardening is igniting debate around how we label native plant gardens.

A Redditor questioned if the popular term "butterfly garden" sets unrealistic expectations, writing, "I've been 'native plant gardening' for almost 3 years now, and, compared to the bees, wasps, flies & other beneficial insects I've seen visiting the plants, the moths and butterflies make up an extremely small percentage."

The Redditor argued that "misleading" labeling impacts adoption, since "the average person seems to 'hate bugs'... Like, I'm sorry, but you're gonna have to live with the wasps and bees because they're gonna be there way before any butterflies or moths show up."

However, the original poster clarified that all native pollinators have immense value, adding these species "are f****** awesome and, by and large, don't care about you at all!"

It's important that we frame native plant gardens in a way that doesn't deter people unfamiliar with the subject. Our words matter, and we have the power to sell newcomers on the many environmental and financial savings available.

Replacing traditional grass lawns with native plants saves homeowners money through less maintenance while providing refuge for struggling local pollinators — yes, even bees — that sustain our food supply. Even partial lawn swaps reap rewards. Low-cost, low-maintenance native options such as clover and buffalo grass conserve water, support wildlife, and reduce emissions from gas-guzzling mowers.

Redditors echoed the original poster's call for truth in advertising gardens' biodiversity benefits. 

One commenter agreed that misleading language hinders engagement, writing that the "lack of curiosity combined with an unhinged fear of wasps in particular result in many people being vaguely enthusiastic about a 'butterfly garden' or 'save the honeybees' and their interest and engagement stops abruptly after that. It can be disheartening, but my philosophy is to aim for more people doing small actions that are within their scope, rather than aiming for 100% correct implementation."

Another simply stated: "Maybe it's a 'you want it to be one way... but it's the other way' moment for me. Like, I really really wish people understood how gentle the vast majority of wasps and bees are."

So, while Reddit debates the ideal native garden slogan, one thing is clear: Native plant gardens' soaring popularity demonstrates that people value sustainability's financial and environmental wins.

If you'd like to enjoy these wins yourself, see our step-by-step guide to installing and fostering your own native plant garden.

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