Horticulture Outreach Collaborative

Horticulture Outreach Collaborative

In 2009 members of the horticulture industry and the conservation community came together to discuss shared interests and take cooperative action to manage invasive plants and protect native vegetation.

In January 2010, this group formally became the Horticulture Outreach Collaborative (HOC) Committee of the Ontario Invasive Plant Council (OIPC).

Founding members included Toronto and Region Conservation, Credit Valley Conservation, Invading Species Awareness Program, and Landscape Ontario. In addition, early assistance was provided by professional gardeners and landscapers, native plant growers, not-for-profit organizations, and public gardens. Currently, HOC includes representatives from a great diversity of NGOs, academic institutions, green industries, and government agencies.

Horticulture Outreach Collaborative Goals

According to the Canada Food Inspection Agency, at least 50 per cent of the known invasive plants in Canada have been introduced through horticultural. HOC focuses on the horticulture pathway of plant invasions.

The committee works with NGO and industry partners to:

  • identify invasive and potentially invasive horticultural plants,
  • phase-out the production, sale and use of invasive horticultural plants, and,
  • advance the production and use of non-invasive alternatives, including native species.

Activities and accomplishments

HOC’s most popular and successful project is Grow Me Instead, a guide that identifies common garden plants with invasive tendencies and non-invasive plants with comparable growth requirements and patterns.

This guide contains photos and descriptions of invasive and non-invasive (and often native) groundcovers, wildflowers, grasses, trees and shrubs, vines and aquatic plants. There are two versions – one for northern Ontario and another for southern Ontario. Since 2011, more than 50,000 copies have been distributed. The digital guide (available in English and French) is a very popular feature on OIPC’s website.

Originally designed with hobby and professional gardeners in mind, the guide has been embraced by a large and diverse audience, and is considered essential reading for many college students studying horticulture in Ontario.

In addition to the guide, HOC developed a Grow Me Instead presentation, which has been delivered at countless garden club and conservation group meetings across southern Ontario.

In 2012, HOC delivered a garden outreach program that engaged 12 small to mid-sized plant nurseries in the Greater Toronto Area. These businesses agreed to place guides on cash counters, educational signs on walls and informative tags on non-invasive plants.

HOC has also designed and delivered three Invasive Plant Garden Tours – two in the summer of 2010 and one in fall 2016, to demonstrate first-hand the spread of garden plants into nearby natural areas, the effects on native vegetation, and the efforts by conservation authority/municipal parks staff to reduce the spread.

For more information, or to become involved in the HOC, please contact one of the HOC co-chairs, Vicki Simkovic or Colin Cassin or OIPC staff.

Updated February 2024