Growing Invasive Plants in the Garden


There are many plants that grow and have beautiful flowers or berries, but not all of them are something you want growing in your garden. In my gardening business, I spend lots of time pulling weeds and over the years you learn to identify many of the weeds that you remove from gardens. Many of the weeds that I remove are "invasive plants". Invasive plants are plants that grow quickly and aggressively displacing other more valuable plants. Most invasive plants are not native to North America. Nearly 25% of plants that we grow in our gardens and landscapes are non-natives. Most non-native plants are enjoyed in our gardens and landscapes and present no problems, like hostas. But some non-natives can destroy our gardens, landscapes and forest. Many invasive plants eliminate the plants that wildlife needs for food and shelter. Invasive plants destroy habitat for wildlife and rare or endangered plants. Invasive plants costs billions of dollars to control and eliminate from our forest and agricultural areas.

Garlic Mustard

I had a chance to see how quickly invasive plants can take over. Several years ago, a plant called 'Crown Vetch' was planted along the interstate highway. The plant was being used for erosion control. It was pretty with lacy leaves and pink clover like flowers, but it spread up the hill along the highway where it was planted and quickly spread across a parking lot around several office buildings into flower beds and the woods surrounding the buildings. Now it is everywhere and continues to grow and spread beyond, even crossing a busy street to the woods on the other side.
I also see many people growing Bush and Japanese Honeysuckles as landscape plants, even keeping them pruned and shaped in their landscapes.
In my area, we have many invasive plants. Here are just a few:
  • Bush and Japanese honeysuckles
  • Garlic Mustard
  • Purple Loosestrife
  • Oriental Bittersweet
  • Autumn Olive
  • Crown Vetch
  • Reed Canary Grass
  • Kudzo
  • White Mulberry
  • Purple Winter Creeper

What can you do? Learn about what plants are invasive in the area that you live. Then take a walk in your yard to see if they are growing there. Remove and destroy these plants and substitute a non-aggressive plant for your landscape. While you check out your own yard, check out your neighbor's yard. These plants can seed or spread back into your yard if left to grow. You might want to volunteer in local parks or forest areas to help in the removal of invasive plants. When you purchase plants for your garden, make sure that it is not invasive in your area. If the plant catalog says a plant is aggressive in it's growth, check it out before you purchase it. Many nurseries do sell these plants.

Do you have invasive plants in your state or country? Share those plant names with others in the comment section. List your state or country and the name of the plants.

Happy Gardening!

The Creative Gardener


Janet said…
Hi Debbie, on our trip to and from SC this past week I was amazed at the invasives one can see as you drive by at 65 mph. The Ailanthus altissima was everywhere! The winged euonymus planted by the highway department was surprising. Additional plantings of Miscanthus along the highway was another surprise.
A tree that we have popping up all over is the Paulownia --- another invasive.
Thanks for doing this post, I had made a mental note to do one, and may later in the week.
Nell Jean said…
Knowing your weeds is half the battle. Right now I'm battling Chamberbitter, Careless Weeds, Florida Pusley and Florida Betony. I'll address these, with their botanical names, on my blog in a day or two. I'm in Georgia, in a county along the GA/FL.
lynn'sgarden said…
Hi Debbie! I see Crown Vetch planted along our highways here (NJ) but always thought they were wild and not planted on purpose. In MY garden, volunteers of Garlic Mustard and Bittersweet are immediately removed but I do have a clump of purple Loosestrife (in it's 4th year) that have stayed intact and have not spreaded...should I be worried? Pesky ground covers that overun the garden are variegated periwinkle and Snow-on-the-Mountain...which I enjoy..most of the time!
Rosey Pollen said…
Found out too late that those cute little plain white daisies are nasties. Still ripping those out. ARGHH!

Anonymous said…
Some great thoughts! I've had friends who have also planted invasive plants and have totally regretted it. They seem to get worse with each year. That's frustrating about the plant that grew along the highway to spread like that. Wow!
Bonnie Story said…
Hello - I'm up in Washington State on the Olympic Peninsula. We have trouble here with the Himalayan Blackberry, Scotch Broom, Knotweed, Buddleia (I know, I still love it) and Holly. The Holly is super-super invasive here!! But the Scotch Broom is the worst, I absolutely hate that stuff!! Great blog, I'm adding you to my Google Reader! Bonnie