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Gardener issues warning about seeds misleadingly marketed as wildflowers: 'Please do your research'

"I'm tired of seeing people trying to do the right thing getting duped."

"I'm tired of seeing people trying to do the right thing getting duped."

Photo Credit: iStock

Step into any major gardening retailer, and you'll find shelves lined with hundreds of seed packets labeled as "wildflowers." But, as one native plant enthusiast pointed out, this label is often too broad and leads people to accidentally plant non-native and even invasive species.

The gardener wrote about their concern in the subreddit r/NoLawns

"I keep running into posts where people buy mixes that are labeled 'wildflower' or 'native.' This is typically just [misleading] marketing used to dupe people who are trying to be environmentally conscious with their landscaping," they wrote. "It should be illegal to be so general, but it is not. Please do your research."

They concluded in frustration: "I'm tired of seeing people trying to do the right thing getting duped."

One commenter was confused as to how the "wildflower" label could be misleading. Another answered: "Depending on where you get them, they're often just a mix of weedy annuals, not natives. One 'Pacific Northwest' mix I saw recently had a lot of plants that don't even grow in Oregon/Washington."

The original poster agreed: "Someone pointed out that 'wildflower' doesn't particularly mean 'native,' so technically companies are doing nothing wrong … so it's misleading marketing, but not lying."

The National Wildlife Federation's native-plant finder is a tool that can help you find seeds that are truly local and native based on region, and one commenter and the OP included huge resource lists.

"Wowww, thank you! This is incredibly helpful," one person wrote

"Thanks for sharing resources instead of shaming us who aren't experienced gardeners!" another enthused.

While non-native grass lawns are still the norm in many places, more people are learning about the benefits of rewilding their yards instead. 

Not only do native plants use less water than grass, but they also generally require much less upkeep and maintenance, which keeps the air cleaner and the soil chemical-free.

Additionally, natural lawns create habitats for wildlife and local pollinators, which support a healthy and robust food chain. Partial lawn replacements — using clover, for example — are also beneficial. 

So, next time you're in a garden center, skip the ambiguously labeled seed packets. Your local ecosystem will thank you.

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