Start a National Plant Collection

Primula 'Captain Blood'

Some National Plant Collections are brought together from plants already in a garden, others may be started from scratch

Why have a National Collection?

Keeping a Collection appeals to plant lovers who have a passion for a particular group of plants and who relish the challenge of conserving and expanding it. You will enjoy researching the history of your plants, tracking down new additions, talking to other plant experts, and becoming an expert yourself.

Collection Holders are often happy to share their knowledge too. Collections have to be accessible to the public, whether by private appointment, on open days or as part of a publically accessible garden. You may also be interested in producing educational material, giving talks, providing advice or putting on displays at flower shows.

Where to start?

Collections can be based around a taxonomic group, such as Cyclamen species, or Ginkgo cultivars.

They can also be based around a subset of a large plant group, such as Sussex apple cultivars, or large leaved Hosta introduced pre-2000.

Some collections are connected with a person or a place, such as the plants collected by Harold Comber, at his home at NT Nymans.

We are happy to advise members that wish to start a National Collection.  Even if it is the first germ of an idea for a collection, do get in touch with our friendly conservation team or your local coordinator for guidance or help at any time, they would like to hear from you.

If you don't have a particular plant group in mind, take a look at our Missing Genera page. We are currently seeking collection holders for these plant groups and would love to hear from you.

Missing Genera

All collections start with a proposal form, which can be submitted before you have started to collect any plants, before moving on to a full application.



Fill in the simple, one page proposal form and send it back to us, along with a list of plants. You don’t need a large collection of plants at this stage, it can be a statement of intent. Feel free to get in touch with us or your local coordinator if you have questions at this stage.


The Proposal will be passed on to our Plant Collections Committee (PCC), a panel of horticulture experts who can provide advice, direction and contacts to help you get started. This committee meets quarterly.


Once the collection is ready you can fill in our application form, which details how the plants are grown, researched, labelled and recorded. You may find our Collection Holder's Handbook and Resources for Collection Holders pages useful to refer to at this stage.


Your local coordinator is available for support with the application process, and they will visit and review your collection so that all the information about it can be presented to the Plant Collections Committee.

What help will I get?

Any proposed Collection is visited by a local volunteer coordinator. They will work with you to complete your application, along with our dedicated conservation team.

We have a web-based plant recording system called Persephone that is available for free to anyone who submits a proposal for a National Collection. This is a helpful tool for you to keep all the pictures, information and research about your plants in one place, and we provide support with getting your plants lists together and recorded on there.

Plant Heritage also offers workshops – from plant photography and making herbarium specimens, to taxonomy. These will be advertised in our Collection Holder newsletter or events page.

Collection Holders are also supported by our local Plant Heritage Groups, who are full of like-minded plants people. Groups hold regular talks, visits, workshops and plant sales. 

All those submitting a proposal for a Collection need to be a member of Plant Heritage

Join us

Want to help support the National Plant Collections and hear more from a chosen collection holder?

Sponsor the Collections

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