Saturday, May 13, 2023

GardenDC Podcast Episode 150: Sourcing Native Plants

In this episode of GardenDC: The Podcast about Mid-Atlantic Gardening, we talk with Amanda McClean and Claudio Vazquez, co-owners of Izel Plants about sourcing native plants. Izel Native Plants developed a unique model in horticulture by consolidating the inventories of several native plant nurseries in a user-friendly website. The plant profile is on Baptisia and we share what's going on in the garden as well as some upcoming local gardening events in the What's New segment. We close out with HOMESTEADucation 
podcaster and author Angela Ferraro-Fanning, who shares the Last Word on Food Forest gardening.
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Show Notes: 02:25 Meet Amanda McClean and 03:39 Meet Claudio Vazquez, co-owners of Izel Plants 05:18 McClean and Vazquez were unhappy with the lack of availability of information about plants, which was the “spark” leading to the creation of Izel Plants. 06:50 McClean has a small front and backyard garden in her home in downtown Washington. 07:09 Vazquez upkeeps his “mishmashed” garden in DC, which allows him to learn more about the different species of plants. 09:22 “We saw gardening as … problem solving,” said McClean. “Being able to input [your] wishes, those filter options, and have it spit out things - not only that were native to your area but were actually available - really seemed like a need that we saw.” 10:47 The company name “Izel Plants” came from Vazquez’s family tradition of naming their children after Aztec names, with Izel meaning “unique.” 14:48 “I think there are generations coming up that see plants more as part of our environment, part of our ecosystems, part of our world,” said Vazquez. 16:25 What are native plants? What is the importance of the distinction? 17:19 The most common interpretation of native plants is plants that existed before European settlers started distributing plants across an area. 20:10 The depth of what makes a plant “native” is dependent on what you’re trying to do with your plant. Something may be native to your country, but not to your state. 23:55 “The further away and the more different the ecosystem is that you’re bringing a plant in from, the higher the risk of something going wrong,” said Vazquez. 24:09 Many invasive species come from areas of similar climates, but the adaptation and competition is different. 25:07 A cultivar is a “species that has been selected for particular traits.” 29:00 Why is genetic diversity important? 31:37 Izel Plants looks for growers that are “primarily focused on natives, and it’s very important that they be very confident in their plant ID” as well as a number of other priorities, said McClean. 33:20 What are neonicotinoids (neonics)? How do they affect plants and the surrounding environment? 37:18 Izel Plants sells plugs and quarts rather than seeds - what does this mean? 40:04 What should you do when your plugs are delivered? 44:43 Seed shortages primarily affect restoration of large areas, meaning much of the effects are not felt by home growers. 47:50 Carex ‘Woodii’ has been experiencing a lack of commercial availability. 50:41 “We do have a shortage, but I would argue it’s not really a shortage, it’s more like a need for more education,” said McClean. 53:01 How are native seeds collected? Is it ethical? 58:07 Some plans with the highest demand for Izel Plants include milkweed and grasses used in matrix growing. 1:03:15 Barry Glick, founder of Sunshine Farm ( and columnist for the Washington Gardeners “GOINGnative” section. 1:03:47 How to contact the founders of Izel Plants - ( 1:04:59 Baptisia: This week's Plant Profile! 1:07:04 Garden updates: Cut a couple of bouquets of Bearded Iris and picked the community garden’s first strawberry for the season. 1:07:16 Upcoming events: Silver Spring Garden Club meeting ( live discussion on Youtube with Kathy Jentz and Graham Gardner, author of “Tiny and Wild”; the Bel Air Garden Mart; Contemporary Conversations with Karen Washington and Jabari S. Walker. 1:09:26 Thank you to all listeners, guests, and interns for sticking around for our 150th episode! 1:10:10 “The Urban Garden” by Kathy Jentz and Teri Speight. 1:11:10 “Groundcover Revolution” by Kathy Jentz. 1:12:32 The Last Word on Food Forest Gardening by Angela Ferraro-Fanning. 1:12:47 What is Food Forest gardening? Why do gardeners do it? 1:13:32 What are some of the benefits of a Food Forest garden?

If you liked this episode, you may also enjoy listening to:
GardenDC Podcast Episode 20: Native Plants, Diversity in the Garden, and Sunflowers

~ GardenDC Podcast Episode 134: Carex for the Mid-Atlantic Region

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Episode Credits:
Host and Producer: Kathy Jentz
Show Notes: Marissa Yelenik


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