Conservation Horticulture

The specialised knowledge and practical skills required in horticulture intended at the conservation of rare and threatened plants.

Growing one plant in one pot is a certain, rather limited challenge. To grow 200 plants for an indefinite period and maintain the genetic diversity among them is not the same challenge 200 times over. It is a quantitatively and qualitatively different challenge, and far more a difficult one.

Susan Wallace – The Role of Horticulture in Plant Conservation
Third International Botanic Gardens Conservation Congress, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1992

Conservation horticulture is a term coined in the late 1990s to highlight the specialised knowledge and practical skills required in horticulture intended at the conservation of rare and threatened plants (e.g. Affolter 1997). Specifically, conservation horticulture aims at the development and management of ex situ collections that:

  • are genetically diverse and representative of the target populations in the wild;
  • provide plant material for in situ conservation, including population reinforcement and reintroduction programmes; and
  • support conservation education and environmental sensitization.

Botanic gardens are key centres practicing conservation horticulture. Their documented collections-based scientific emphasis sets them apart from other horticultural approaches, such as production horticulture and amenity planting.

All of BGCI’s integrated ex and in situ conservation work worldwide focusing on rare and threatened plant species, promotes the principles of conservation horticulture.

Resources on Conservation Horticulture

  • BGjournal

    Tree Conservation, Ecological Restoration, Conservation Prioritisation, Seed Conservation, Conservation Horticulture, Plant Conservation, Policy and Advocacy / Publication, BGCI Journal / English, French
  • Magnolia Conservation Horticulture Learning Modules

    Tree Conservation, Conservation Horticulture, Services for Botanic Gardens / E-learning module, Tool / Spanish

BGCI's Conservation Projects


Recovery of Native Wetland Flora

Promoting recovery in the Río de la Plata estuary, Argentina
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Mulanje cedar

Save our cedar

Working together to save Malawi’s national tree.
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Integrating Ex and In situ conservation of two endemic trees of Taiwan

Safeguarding threatened tree species in Taiwan

Genetically representative ex situ collections were established and awareness of the species was raised with display collections within Taiwan botanic gardens.
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