Are Cultivars of Native Plants OK to buy? We say no.
Native plant species make up native landscapes - which is essentially what the European settlers saw when they first arrived in our region. Since then the landscapes have been logged, stripped, paved over and planted in turf grasses, exotic (non native) trees, shrubs, flowering plants and grasses. We're starving our insect and bird populations, since they need native species of all types of plants for their food - and for shelter. Non native plants don't work for them - hence insect and bird population numbers are plummeting.
So what about cultivars of natives, or "nativars"? Is it ok to use native plants that have been altered genetically for a brighter flower, a longer bloom time or for whatever reason? No.
It is a bad idea to load the landscape with cultivars that have no genetic variability... I think the safest policy right now is to encourage the use of straight species. Ask for them at your local nursery; encourage nurserymen to start stocking more straight species. The nursery industry has not embraced the message that native plants are more about ecosystem function than about looks. We have to convince them that there is a market for plants with high function. - Doug Tallamy, Entomologist, Author "Bringing Native Home".
Go Native! perennials embraces the Wild Ones/HGCNY policy on the use of straight species native plants over cultivars ("nativars"). We seek to maximize ecological function by beautifying our landscapes with straight native species - to feed wildlife and protect waterways. Read HGCNY's policy paper to understand more about straight species versus nativars.