Plants, be that flowers, bushes, or trees, can be purchased from a variety of places, whether worldwide or in the UK, from either large companies or smaller, independent companies. A plant nursery can usually be found close to home. If not, plants can also be ordered online or grown from seedlings. There are some things to consider and know about plants:

Impacts of Plants

Plants and seeds imported in from around the world will require transportation, and compared to transportation from the UK, this may emit more carbon due to the need for more energy. Energy is also required to harvest the plants, and in this process, CO2 is emitted, with the harvesting being the biggest polluter for plants. (ref) Another factor to consider is whether a plant required a greenhouse to enable it to grow, as this will also have environmental impacts due to its energy demands. (ref) As native plants are used to the climate of the UK, they are less likely to need a greenhouse and will also require fewer water needs than other plants, see more in the water section of this website. Regardless, it is key to remember that plants themselves help to mitigate the problems associated with carbon dioxide as they absorb CO2 from the atmosphere, (ref) and can help store carbon in their lives, helping reduce the impact of their creation but also benefit the planet too. Fertiliser runoff may also cause issues, as plants need to be grown quickly to ensure profits, however, over-application can lead to fertilisers escaping into the environment. (ref)

Environmentally friendly nurseries

There are ways to ensure a nursery reduces its environmental impact, and purchasing plants from these places helps to ensure more sustainable plants. Ways nurseries do this include:

– Plants can be grouped with similar water needs, helping ensure more efficient water application. (ref)

– Individual potted plants can be used, helping ensure optimal water and nutrient levels as there is less soil to work with. (ref) Despite this, make sure to avoid plastic pots.  

– Irrigation water and plastics can be recycled to mitigate waste. (ref)

– Renewable energy sources can be used to replace non-renewable, polluting sources. (ref)

Nurseries now 

There are growing concerns by consumers about the sustainability of products, which has led to an increase in locally grown or sustainable plants. Despite the benefits of sustainability, it is still being adopted slowly by the industry at large, although many measures to become sustainable, like reduced energy and water use are already implemented by many nurseries, (ref) as the practice also saves money and boosts profits as a result.