What are Plant Guardians?

Our Plant Guardian scheme is a vital part of our work to conserve living, garden plants.

Anyone who has a place to grow a plant - indoors or outdoors - using a back garden, greenhouse, allotment or windowsill can be actively involved in the conservation of cultivated plants as a Plant Guardian. This means our members can take part in active conservation without needing to hold a National Collection.


How do Plant Guardians keep rare plants from being lost?

To preserve plants it’s essential that we keep them growing in gardens, so all of our plant guardians are doing vital work. If a plant has very limited, or no commercial availability, it relies on being grown in gardens for its survival.

It is important to have these rare plants recorded at a known location, as this way we can ensure that none slip through the gaps and are lost to horticulture. For conservation purposes, we also encourage rare plants to be duplicated at a few known locations as an insurance against loss. That’s why we have a record of plants in guardianship and why we encourage our Plant Guardians to make more of their plants and share them (perhaps through the Plant Exchange?). 

You may have a suitable plant already in your care that you’d like to conserve through the scheme. Even if you don't think the plant you are growing is rare, it could be an unfashionable variety that has disappeared from the trade, or be at risk for a number of reasons. It may also be wanted by a collection holder (see the list of 'desiderata' plants).

If you are keen to get hold of a rare plant, please either get in touch or take part in our Plant Exchange, as many of the plants exchanged would qualify.

Our experts will assess whether your plant is rare in cultivation before adding it to the list of plants in guardianship. Anyone searching for it to find out more, or perhaps to grow it themselves, will be able to locate it and expand the scope of our conservation.

If you have a National Collection, you cannot also register these plants as Plant Guardian plants, as they are already kept safe in a registered location by being in a collection. This is to ensure that we do not duplicate the recorded location of any given plant.  Any plants that fall outside of the scope of your National Collection can be registered under the Plant Guardian scheme. 

Licenced under CC BY 4.0.

Plant Guardians can add information and pictures about their plants to the Persephone plant records system. This helps build a picture of how these plants perform across the country and may be used on the main plant search page.

Watch the short video to show you how.

More rare plant stories can be found on our blog. You can also read more about some of our plant guardians in this series of articles on 'Garden Heroes', published in Garden News magazine.

Roz Cooper

David Simpson

Anne Tweddle

eg: plant genus, common name, county, collection holder name.