Does this count as cultivated? (Soil transplanted from ground to pot)

In around March of this year, I transplanted a wildflower from my yard into a pot via without removing it from the soil. I basically just dug a circle around the plant and placed it in the pot as one giant lump of dirt and clay. The reason I transplanted it was out of curiosity and to begin planting native species sourced locally (it’s a lyreleaf sage, a very common and hardy species here, so this was a plant found all over the place in every yard and not going to die out from this). Obviously that’s no longer wild, but that’s not what I’m talking about.

After a few months, multiple different plant species started growing in the pot. This is obviously because I kept the soil intact and there were numerous roots in it. But since those plants were not sticking out of the ground when I transplanted the plant, does this mean the other flowers aren’t cultivated? I didn’t add them myself and I’ve left this pot grow out and do its own thing since March. Does merely transplanting some plants, roots, and/or soil into a pot cause it to be cultivated, regardless if new blooms appear? I really want it to not be cultivated so others can give proper ID and I can see if they’re all native species or not. The plants are so close together that iNaturalist’s automatic ID algorithm is unlikely to correctly identify them all.

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i wouldnt consider it cultivated since you took it from your own garder, therefore is part of your native fauna and flora, not even the wild flower you took from your garden, at least not by inat standards in my honest opinion

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iNaturalist says to consider whether you want the organism to be there (cultivated or captive) or whether the organism wants to be there. I think that means none of yours are cultivated. Even the one you initially transplanted, since it wanted to be there; you just added the pot. If you move them, then they will become cultivated. I think even if you leave it where it is, it becomes cultivated for the future, as you want it there.


“Checking captive / cultivated means that the observation is of an organism that exists in the time and place it was observed because humans intended it to be then and there” *

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I agree that intention matters. In this case, you did intend to move that soil into the pot providing a supportive environment for the seeds that sprouted, etc. So even though you didn’t know what plants were present, you did move them to the pot intentionally. Another way to think of this is: the plants would not be present in the pot if not for you. To me, that’s different from a situation where a seed disperses by wind into a pot and grows there or a bird poops a seed into a pot and then it hatches - in those cases, you have situations where you have a potted plant that is truly there unintentionally and would be wild.

On a more practical level, I think that if you asked most people to look at that observation, they would grade it is captive.


Since you presumably watered the soil and moved it from its original spot to somewhere with a possibly different microclimate, it is technically cultivated. I think that moving a plant a few hundred meters or less is an edge case, but the best way to handle it might be to upload each one and see if you get any ID’s, then mark them as captivated, since captive observations are less likely to be ID’d. If those species appeared in your pot and were already growing in the ground, check the location where you dug up the original plant and see if similar ones are growing nearby. Those would definitely be wild.

From what I understand, it’s actually acceptable to include herbarium collections of wild plants as observations for iNat, but you’re just supposed to mark the date and location to match the original collection. In essence, this is really no different, it’s just that your plants are still alive rather than dried out specimens on a tray in a building somewhere. Just be sure to provide an explanation in the notes so other people aren’t confused by the pictures.

EDIT: In your case, I’d leave the date as when you took the pictures for phenology reasons, but the location as where you dug them up from.


Marking an observation as “not wild” only hides it from default searches. It does not mean that others cannot provide IDs, even if, on the whole, fewer IDers look at casual observations. One option would be to tag local plant IDers and see if they can help. For example, I don’t typically look at captive observations because I don’t know garden cultivars, but I would be happy to look at accidental transplants in my region if asked.

You also might have more success getting an ID (computer or human) if you wait until the plants are bigger and/or transplant them so they have pots of their own. I realize that you might not want to do this unless you already know whether they are something you want to keep, but non-blooming shoots are often more difficult to ID than plants in flower.


The easiest solution would be to look for the very same species at the original site and make observations there.

Great information for newer members like myself. At home I have this hollowed out red oak stump that I filled with dirt 3 years ago and planted marigolds in, ONCE. Every year since they come back naturally because I don’t bother removing the plants in the autumn when they go dormant. The seeds fall in the winter and then germinate in the spring, without my intervention. Since I put the conditions in place from the start, it’s still considered cultivated. If in 20 years the entire neighborhood was overrun by wild marigolds, randomly popping up in people’s mulch beds and backyards, then maybe the classification changes.

Yep, if they make it out of the stump, they’re wild! This is also a good example of how it can be really tough to determine wild/cultivated. If someone else came along and saw the stump, they might never know the marigolds were cultivated (though they might guess).

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