How & Why We Source Our Plants
Designs By Nature - Upper Peninsula Native Plants, LLC, is a State inspected and licensed nursery grower of native plants. We legally and with permission gather wild native seed from the UP and plant it in our on-site production beds to ensure hardy UP genotypes. Plants are propagated from seeds, division, or cuttings, with an eye to genetic diversity. We wild-gather responsibly - careful not to over harvest, and we do not take plants from the wild. We want native plants to thrive because of our efforts!
Using genotypes from the UP is important because it ensures the plants you buy are adapted to our climate and well-suited to our wildlife, birds, and pollinators. Climate change is here, but it doesn't simply make weather warmer, requiring the planting of southern species; it makes weather weirder and more extreme. That means more polar vortex events, more extreme snowstorms, more high winds... Our UP plants, insects, and animals need our support more than ever in these conditions. There is nowhere for our plants and insects to go. If we stop planting native UP plants in favor of southern species, our plants can't make the jump across the lake and will simply be extirpated from Michigan, or worse, become extinct. Trust UP plants to be able to handle the heat and stand Yooper tough against the rest - plant local genotype and don't give up on the ecosystems of the UP.
We do understand that people have diverse gardening goals, so we also offer some plants desirable for landscaping that are native to the lower peninsula, or for which we do not have a current UP seed source. For those offerings, we use only Michigan native genotypes from Designs By Nature, LLC, in Laingsburg, Michigan, or when necessary, Michigan genotype seed purchased from Michigan Wildflower Farm in Portland, Michigan. Select shrubs for which we do not have a UP seed source yet are purchased from several reputable, licensed and inspected, downstate nurseries. The description of each shrub will tell you if it grown in-house or sourced from another nursery.
How to Purchase Plants
The plants we grow are listed below. Please check our Shop for availability. Quantities of some items are limited or certain plants may not be available some seasons. Looking to start or expand a whole native garden? Check out our Garden Kits as an economical way to get a brilliant variety of plants!
Please note we do not offer retail on-site sales and our greenhouse is not open to the public. Pick-up is by appointment only. Delivery may be available for large orders. If you want to shop in person, our Farmer's Market and Plant Sale schedule is listed Here. Check back frequently, as we add more dates throughout the season.
Plant orders are available for pick-up by appointment only starting in late May at our location just south of Marquette, Michigan. In May and the first part of June, depending on the weather, we fill orders placed January through April. Once those are cleared, we begin distributing plants for our May orders. Much like slow food being the best food, giving us time to properly size up your plants will be best for all concerned. There is no harm in planting perennial native plants later in the season. These are not tropical pepper plants; they do not need to be planted on Memorial Day. Plants raised slowly and carefully, not over-fertilized and forced, are the best plants. Once they have a good start in their containers, they will love getting their roots into your site, no matter whether it is spring, summer, or fall. Yes, fall is a great time to plant native plants, as described Here.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions!
*Wild tobacco is not native to Michigan, but it has been cultivated here by Native Americans since before European settlement, and is naturalized in some parts of the lower peninsula. Judgement call?
*Prairie Blazingstar is adventive to Michigan. It is a showy plains species that has escaped from cultivation or migrated along railroad tracks and other people-pathways from adjacent states.
*Maximilian Sunflower is of uncertain origin. Michigan Flora says it is adventive from more western states. It is found throughout Michigan and has been observed in the UP since at least the late 1800s. The Biota of North America Program (BONAP) and several other sources list it as native to Michigan. It is more certainly native in Minnesota, and is naturalized in the UP, so we consider "regional native" as the worst-case scenario. For a strictly native garden, select one of our several other native Michigan sunflowers.
*When we started the nursery in 2020, Michigan Flora listed Pale Purple Coneflower as native to Michigan and the UP, and Purple Coneflower as adventive. As of January 2023, Michigan Flora lists Pale Coneflower as adventive, and has Purple Coneflower listed as both adventive and native. All we know for sure is that Pale Coneflower grows wild in the UP, Purple Coneflower makes an excellent garden plant, and both are regional natives at a minimum. We will wait and see. Next year maybe both will be listed as native.