The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment estimates that between 60,000 and 100,000 plant species are threatened with extinction–equivalent to around one-quarter of the total number of known plant species. Why should we care? There are a number of reasons. The first is that these plants may be useful to us in unknown ways. Secondly, ecology has taught us that resilience is found in diversity. Thirdly, we should be saving plant species from extinction because we can–there is no technological reason why any plant species should become extinct. Where we can't protect and manage plant diversity in situ, we should be employing ex situ conservation techniques, ranging from seed banks to habitat restoration. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment describes such interventions as ‘techno-gardening’. This is not an abstract concept–it is already a reality in the majority of man-managed landscapes. In this context the perception of ex situ conservation as simply a back-up strategy for in situ conservation is mistaken. We are all involved in ex situ conservation to some degree, from cultivating our back gardens, to farming, to management of protected areas. Ex situ conservation should be seen as a complementary approach to in situ conservation and on the same spectrum. Kew's Millennium Seed Bank Partnership, comprising more than 120 plant science institutions in 50 countries, epitomizes this philosophy in action. We work actively on every seed collection we bank, finding out how useful it is and how we can grow it to enable human innovation, adaptation and resilience. Challenges remain at the policy level; for example, the need to factor-in the value of natural capital to development decision making, and better defining a role for public-sector science. At the technical level, also, there is much to do. Perhaps the greatest technical challenges relate to the restoration and management of complex, self-sustaining habitats or species assemblages. If we are to techno-garden effectively, in order to maintain ecosystem services and sustain biodiversity, then a multidisciplinary approach will be required. Many plant science institutions have recognized this and are becoming engaged increasingly in restoration activities and in situ management. Ultimately, humanity's ability to innovate and adapt is dependent on our having access to the full range of plant species and the alleles they contain.