May 2014 Newsletter (vol.29)   >>   Did I Plant That?




Spring has sprung! Which means plants will be growing and turning green. Hopefully it is plants that you started and not plants that found their way into your garden by other means. Plants that "choose" your garden, might be classified as an invasive plant. An invasive plant is classified as any plant that has the ability to thrive and spread aggressively outside its natural range. While they may seem beautiful and harmless in a pot at the local nursery, you will think differently if they get into your garden.


Invasive plants occupy 7 million acres of the national park lands and at least 1.5 million acres are severely infested. National lands are not the only parks that have issues with invasive plants; private and state lands are also plagued with the problems and usually have higher infestation rates. This problem is costly at an estimated $34 billion per year or more on removal of invasive plants. The cost is only going up with each year.  No time is better than now to protect your region from invasive plants!


In order to start taking back our land from invasive plants we must first understand where they come from. They can arrive by accident, as seed in agricultural products or on shipments from overseas. Another type is once prized trees/perennials that are chosen for their horticultural purposes; fast growing, drought tolerant, unusual, beautiful or exceptionally hardy.  Even though plants are selected for these certain criteria it can be hard to truly get rid of them once the invasive tendencies come out. 


You will need to first learn how to identify the invasive plants in your area. Some of the more common invasive plants that you might be aware of include; Cleveland pear, pennisetum, Japanese honeysuckle, purple loosestrife, tree of heaven and countless unknown invasive plants. Once you have familiarized yourself with the invasive plants it is time to start taking action against them! This would include either manually removing them or using chemicals. There are all sorts of tools that you can use to try and eradicate the invasive plants: spades, brush grubbers, loppers, machetes and chain saws. The other option is using some type of herbicide which ultimately depends on what invasive plant you are attempting to kill.


Once you have a good handle on your own garden and property it is now time to donate to the community and local parks. This has to be a team effort in controlling the invasive plants that harm our public and government ground. If you are looking for places to volunteer your time, try contacting your extension services or department of conservation. Most places have volunteer programs that work on early detection and eradication so the land can be clear of invasive plants for decades to come. This is the most cost effective method, rather than waiting until it is a wide spread problem.


Since we all want to keep our gardens free from invasive plants the smartest option is to plant native plants or non-invasive type plants. The best places to ask for these are at your local nursery and ask them for more native alernatives. If you are part of a gardening club make sure that you share your personal experience with certain plants that have become invasive in your landscape.  Knowledge is the key when you are trying to eliminate invasive plants. 


Invasive plants are found all over the world. The more that you know, the more plants you can identify, the more you can do. They will continue to grow if something doesn’t change, so we all need to remember that we are in this battle against the invasive plants together!



“Why Should I Care About Invasive Plants"
“Invasive Plants”