How We Grow

We grow species that are native to Kansas or Missouri, but more than what we grow is how we grow. We strive to deliver plants that provide the greatest ecological benefit with the least environmental cost. Here’s how we grow.

Life More Abundant

Kansas and Missouri are home to over 2000 species of plants and each individual plant has unique variations that allow it to support other species, exist in specific areas within the species range, and evolve in changing conditions. It is this genetic diversity that has evolved over millions of years that create the beauty and function we enjoy today.

To maintain genetic diversity, it is important to grow straight species of plants and not cultivars. Clones, cultivars, and selections weaken the health and resilience of a species, ultimately disrupting genetic diversity. Likewise, selecting or breeding for a specific trait can hinder the many animals that depend upon it. Additionally, we believe it's important to use locally collected seed that is well adapted for the local environment. Some species may grow across a massive range, but seed collected from several states away may not perform as well here or the annual bloom time may not line up with our local pollinators' needs.

At Sow Wild Natives, we:
  • Only sell straight species native to Kansas or Missouri.
  • Grow mainly from seeds, instead of division or cuttings, because each seed holds its own unique diversity, just like people.
  • Only grow from responsibly collected seed from Kansas or Missouri and seek seed sources as close to the Kansas City region as possible.
  • Only take one or two samples per individual source plant for the few species that we grow from divisions/cuttings.

Sustainability Practices

What we grow contributes to a more sustainable world, but we also seek to grow in the most sustainable way possible. The nursery industry can have a significant environmental impact due to the use of fossil fuels, peat moss, plastics, fertilizers, water use, and pesticides. We model our business practices and purchase decisions on the environmental impact they will have. While it doesn’t always make financial sense, we hope that it makes environmental sense. There are no perfect solutions, but we're trying to make the best decisions we can with the information we have and continue to strive for better solutions.

At Sow Wild Natives, we:
  • Use locally sourced and non-peat based potting mix for over 95% of our production. We use only small amounts of imported, peat potting mix for germination and continue to seek alternatives.
  • Reuse potting mix by pasteurizing it with heat in our germination room in the winter, helping to heat and reduce waste.
  • Offset most of our energy use using on-site solar panels.
  • Encourage customers to return our plant containers so that we can clean, steam pasteurize, and reuse them. Steam pasteurization is done on sunny winter days to utilize solar energy and heat/humidify our workspace.
  • Apply organic fertilizer as our plants grow. The potting mix contains a synthetic, slow-release fertilizer that we continue to seek alternatives to.
  • Minimize hard surfaces and runoff by using natural surfaces and installing bioswales.
  • Largely rely on native predatory insects and birds to control pests. On rare occasions we may use dish soap, rubbing alcohol, or peroxide to control insects that are causing excessive damage to plants. We never use herbicides or neonicotinoid-based insecticides on our products.
  • Evaluate building and product decisions based on a life cycle analysis of their embodied CO2e emissions.