How to participate in PlantWatch

Woman and girl picking dandelions

Ready to start plantwatching? Here’s your step-by-step guide with tips below!

  1. Find out which plants have been selected for your area.
  2. Select one or two plants from the list that you would like to monitor.
  3. Choose the plants that you can observe every day during the blooming season.
  4. Select your site – where you will observe the species.
  5. Mark your territory – (Make note of the Latitude & longitude of your location).
  6. Review the data collection procedures for your chosen species.
  7. Use the data sheets to record your observation.
  8. Submit your data through this website or by mobile.


Every observation counts – reporting even one flowering date for one plant is a great contribution.

Choose the Plant Species You Want to Observe

Click here to see which plants have been selected for your area. If you need additional help, consult your regional co-ordinator or local gardeners and naturalists. Be sure to select plants that you can easily observe every day during the blooming season. Suggestion for first time plant-watchers and schools: pick just one or two plant species to observe!

Select Your Site

Go for a walk before flowers begin to bloom to find the plant(s) you wish to observe. If possible, choose specimens that are growing in an easy-to-access, flat area. Plants on a cool, north-facing slope usually flower later; and those on a warm, south-facing slope bloom earlier than plants on level ground.

Avoid sites which may have unusual temperature or light conditions, such as valleys, or sites near streetlights, buried steam pipes, concrete foundations, or paved parking lots and roads.

Mark Your Territory

For trees and large shrubs, temporarily mark an individual plant with a tag. For smaller plants, find a typical patch of the species to observe. A good idea is to label your plant (or patch of plants) with a plastic or metal tag so you are confident you are observing the same plants on each visit, and from year to year.

Tips on Identifying and Reporting Your Findings

Read the species descriptions in the Field Training guide. This section outlines the data collection procedures for each species:

  1. Start watching your plant closely in spring, checking for swelling flower buds.
  2. Determine the latitude and longitude of the plant location. Note this on the data sheet.
  3. Record the date when your plant reaches first bloom. (For most plants, first bloom is when the first flowers open, revealing the stamens inside.) In some cases you will report when flowers have opened in three different places on your shrub or tree, or in three places within the patch of plants you are observing. It is important to visit your plants at least every few days to catch the first day they bloom. If you are not sure when that has occurred, contact your regional co-ordinator for help.
  4. Record any environmental details listed on the data sheet. This includes notes on weather, the plant’s location and any other interesting information on insects or animals affecting the plant.
  5. Record the date when your plant reaches mid-bloom. For tree species and lilacs, report leafing dates as well. Spend some time during spring and summer observing the plants in full leaf and bloom so you can easily recognize them and return to observe them early next spring!

Plant-Watching etiquette:

Please do not collect wildflowers. This weakens the plants and robs them of the energy needed to bloom the following year. Wildflowers are best enjoyed in their native habitat!