Plant Introductions

Mt. Cuba Center’s horticultural research team explores the potential garden and ecological value of underappreciated native plants and introduces the highest-quality native plants to the horticultural trade. We do this by introducing selections of native plant species, also known as cultivars or nativars, since they are cultivated native plants.

Before being introduced, any potential Mt. Cuba introduction must meet the needs of home gardeners, including:

  • Ornamental appeal
  • Garden adaptability
  • Ecological benefits
  • Disease resistance

Adding new selections or cultivars of native plants expands diversity and availability of said plants to gardeners, but not all cultivars are created equally. Mt. Cuba only introduces native plant selections that meet the criteria listed above and are different from or superior to cultivars currently available in garden centers and nurseries.

The plant introduction process can take years, including identification, evaluation, naming, and commercialization. Candidates for introduction chosen by Mt. Cuba are typically sent to nurseries to be grown, and if propagation proves successful, sold to home gardeners at their local garden center.

Mt. Cuba began introducing named native plant cultivars in 1988, while still a private estate. Today, as a non-profit botanical garden, research, and conservation organization, the introduction of outstanding native plants continues to be among the top priorities of our horticultural research.

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