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Plant Introductions

Gran Canon Baja bush snapdragon (Gambelia juncea ‘Gran Canon’)

Growing the Trade

Making Native Plants More Accessible

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden has a long history of creating, selecting, and evaluating cultivars of native plants. Beginning in the 1950s with the Garden’s first on-staff horticulturist and plant breeder, Dara E. Emery, we’ve introduced over 30 native plant cultivars to the horticultural trade. This rigorous selection process continues today as we strive to develop and promote new plants. To be a candidate for introduction, plants must be tested in a variety of environments and they must be relatively easy to propagate and cultivate.  

Native plant cultivars are important to our history and contribute to California’s native plant nursery trade. Through the Garden’s Plant Introduction program, we encourage everyone to grow native plants by offering beautiful, hardy, and climate-adapted options perfectly suited for California gardens. 

Volunteer Avis Keedy standing in front of red VW beetle with license plate reading 1 Earth
Garden volunteer Avis Keedy
Designed brilliance

What Is a Cultivar?

Short for “cultivated variety,” a cultivar is a plant that has been selected by humans and propagated for its desirable traits. These traits could include larger flowers and fruits, atypical growth habits, unusual flower colors, disease resistance, and other unique features. 

Cultivars can come from many sources and have been a part of gardening for almost as long as humans have grown plants. Some cultivars are the result of intentional plant breeding through hybridization, while others are naturally occurring seedlings with traits that make them stand out from the straight species.  

Meet the Team