Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

How Videos Can Promote Native Plants

My dear readers, please welcome my good friend Susan Harris of GardenRant to Clay and Limestone! She's my first guest writer, so, you know that what she's sharing must be special!

I think it is! For the last many years we gardeners have lamented the lack of garden shows on television, Susan has addressed this by creating a Good Gardening video channel on Youtube! It's a great collection of videos. She's included links to it and a few special native plant videos that I am sure you will enjoy.

I was excited to discover that making a video isn't all that difficult. Her easy to follow instructions will make it easy for we native plant enthusiasts to reach a larger audience and to share our enthusiasm for our favorite plants and gardening for wildlife. I am going to give it a try and I hope you will, too.

Here's Susan's post.


I’m a big fan of videos and a believer in the enormous importance of YouTube, now the number two search engine on the web, after Google.  Savvy marketing experts are urging their clients to get into video in a big way.
Videos are especially useful in turning people on to particular plants and to taking up gardening in the first place. Gardening is a show-me thing, like cooking, but even more so because plants and gardens are so visually inspiring – even more than lushly stylized photos of food.  
So how can videos nudge people to include more native plants in their gardens? Well, not so much by telling them about the benefits of native plants – that's a tell-me kind of thing, and already done well in books and text all over the Internet. Instead, videos are best at helping people choose from the long lists of native plants the ones that do well and look great in gardens, and are actually available on the market.
Here's one I made showing off the best natives I've ever grown in my Maryland gardens, using images from my garden and public gardens near me.

Advocates of wildlife gardening and Master Gardener groups in my area have eagerly shared it, which is great. But I'm telling you there aren't nearly enough videos like that one showing natives in gardens. I've found a few videos about plants for pollinators – natives and nonnatives - but those are all sun-lovers. Videos about natives for shade or the native shrubs and small trees that could make up the backbone of a garden are sadly few and far between.
I went looking for more videos of natives in the garden for the ad-free educational nonprofit Good Gardening Videos that I edit and found just a few more, by people in just a few states and none from Canada. I compiled them in a Best Videos of Native Plants in the Garden collection containing 13 plant videos and three video tours of native-plant gardens. Seriously, that's all??
But you can help. All it takes is some halfway decent photos of grown-up natives looking good in gardens – your own, a friend's or at your local public garden.
Easy Video-Making
Did you notice that my video uses just still images, narration, and some free background music? No need to buy an expensive camera, microphones, or learn to use expensive editing programs, like Final Cut Pro. I went that route a few years back, paying $800 for an 8-week class in documentary filmmaking, and quickly learned that the arduous process of editing is not for me.
But with still photos you can avoid arduous editing and these common flaws seen so often in garden videos - traffic and wind noise, shaky camera motion, and uneven sunlight that causes deep shadows.  Also, with still photos it's easy to show plants at several times of the year.
To turn your photos into a video you could use a slide-show programs like Pictures to Exe that I use or the super-easy program Animoto, which Pam Penick used to promote her book about Water-Saving Gardens. You can use Animoto free for 14 days, pay $8 a month after that, then unsubscribe if you're done.
Writer Evelyn Hadden used iMovie to easily make this video promoting 50 Beautiful No-Mow Gardens.
If you prefer to take actual video, all you really need is a smart phone or your regular camera set to video. Or combine video with still photos. But to avoid the many, many pitfalls I see in garden videos (and I've watched over a thousand as chief curator of Good Gardening Videos), read our Tips for Making Videos Yourself.
One tip that bears repeating here for anyone using video to promote native plants? Identify them in text! Naming them in your narration isn't enough because the captions that YouTube automatically creates will recognize only the most common names. For example, captions in the otherwise excellent videos by Eco-Beneficial included in the collection above identify ragwort as "red white," and seersucker sedge as "seersucker said," with the Latin name "Carrick's planted Jenaya" instead of Carex plantaginea.
So don't let that happen to you! It's best to put captions in the video itself but at the very least correct YouTube's automatic captions. (It's easy.) Mississippi State's videos also include the entire transcript in the video description, which is great for viewers while helping search engines find the videos, too.
So how about it? This winter you could use the forced indoor time to cull through your garden photos and make a short video to inspire more people to plant natives. Then post it to Facebook, which is now promoting videos more heavily than any other kind of post.
Next, publish it on your own YouTube channel. Or simply send me the file of your video and I can either suggest possible improvement or if it's fine as is, publish it to GGVideos' own YouTube channel. Once it's on YouTube I can promote it on our website, on Pinterest and Facebook, and add it to our special Best Natives Video guide.
Videos could be your best tool yet in encouraging gardeners to use more native plants!
Susan Harris founded the nonprofit educational campaign Good Gardening Videos and blogs at GardenRant.

Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.


  1. Susan, loved the post and hope to get into making a native plant video. xogail

  2. Thanks SO much, Gail! It's an honor.
    For your readers, the ideas for this post and my search for the best native-plant videos came up during breakfast with Gail when I was in Nashville visiting my sister. She's fun to brainstorm with!

  3. This is a wonderful post and well presented. Videos are a great way of relaying information. I may need to make one!

  4. This is great! I have a presentation coming up, and I'll share the link with the attendees. :)

  5. This is so great!!~~Dee

    1. Thanks, Dee, I thought she did a great job.

  6. Susan's got me fired up! We still have some natives blooming here on my corner of Katy, Texas, although they might get knocked back a bit tonight. If they don't and the weather improves enough to be outside, I'll do my best to get some pictures so I can work on a video when the weather is bad again!

  7. So interesting! When the garden season returns I will have to try my hand at a video.

    1. I like Susan's idea to use photos and can see making a video this winter while the garden is resting! But, it will be exciting to see the earliest pollinators arriving in March, now that would be a fun video.

  8. Great suggestions, Susan, and thanks too for sharing my Animoto video about my book.


"Insects are the little things that run the world." Dr. E O Wilson