How to - Gardening Basics

Five reasons to grow heirloom plants

Heritage plants are connections to the past and keys to our future

Which plants qualify as heirloom plants and which don't is hotly debated. Many heirloom gardeners disqualify any cultivars introduced after the 1920s, while others use plants up to the end of the 1940s in their WWII Victory Gardens. Some gardeners claim 1951 as the cut-off date for heirloom cultivars.

Planting heirloom varities is important for keeping botanical diversity alive and thriving, as many cultivars are threatened with extinction. Here are five reasons to plant an heirloom plant in your garden: 

1. Sustainability

Heirloom plants rely on wind and insects to reproduce, and their strains are simple. That means seeds saved from one season to the next reliably produce offspring true to type.

2. Disease resistance

Heirloom plants have stood the test of time, resisting pests and disease better than others.

3. Intense flavour

Unlike modern hybrids, which are primarily bred for their uniform, healthy appearance and ability to travel well, heirlooms pack more flavour.

4. Protecting pollinators

Heirloom seeds are rarely, if ever, treated with synthetic pesticides or herbicides. Although the role of chemicals in Colony Collapse Disorder in honeybees is still unproven, a number of chemical compounds are being found in hives.

5. Connection with family and friends

When you share cuttings, give plants to friends or trade heirloom seeds, you establish roots spanning generations, keeping our botanical heritage alive.


Read more in How to and Gardening Basics

  • Page 1: Why you should grow heirloom plants

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