Many common plants used in landscaping for a long time have turned out to be quite invasive. A lot of these species are still not regulated in areas where they cause issues. I am going to talk about some of the common invasive landscaping plants, as many people don’t realize the impact they are having on the environment by caring for these dangerous plants.
I’ll start with plants that we currently have or have had in the past at Wellfield. We have Wintercreeper, barberry, creeping jenny, Chinese silver line grass, black alder, burning bush, and Norway maples. These were planted when there were no restrictions on their sale, and they were not deemed a threat. There were two callery pear trees in the garden as well, but they were replaced because they were acknowledged as invasive. Moving forward, we have discussed removing more plants we are growing that have been found to be invasive. Some of these are now illegal to sell, trade, or move.
Some other common plants that have had a tremendous impact on the environment but are still often grown in landscapes are reed canary grass, honeysuckle, and chinese yam. The reed canary grass is usually an ornamental cultivar, but it spreads seeds into the local ecosystem and out competes many of our native plants. Chinese yam is a vine that can take over trees and lawns and out compete our native vines. I was personally cursed with these yams when I moved into my house, and after years have still been unable to eradicate them.
The smaller invasive shrubs such as honeysuckle, burning bush, and barberry become a problem in our woodlands because they can out compete our native understory trees and forbs. The large grasses can grow so thick and tall, they can prevent any other plant from growing in that spot and can continue to reproduce and make the entire area unfit for any of our native plants. Vines can cause problems in our ecosystems, and they are a nuisance to land owners. They can grow up the sides of buildings, walls, and trees. Since they are vines, they can deal with lower light levels in woodlands or the bright light they receive from more open spaces. They can also trail across lawns or grow over concrete to get to other environments. Vines are hard to contain, and invasive vines are very hard to get rid of.
Hopefully, our community will eventually switch to using fewer invasive plants in the future. A big issue is a lot of these species were chosen and planted before anyone knew there was a problem. Now some of these plants are the go-to choices for landscapers who don’t keep up to date on invasives. Thanks to new laws, it is illegal to sell or move some of the most aggressive species. If you have any of the plants I talked about in this blog, perhaps consider a native species or just a species that is not detrimental to the local environment.
Cody Hoff, Lead Horticulturist