Kudzu. Tree of Heaven. Purple Loosestrife. For many of you, just reading those name sent a shiver down your spine. Why? Because these botanical bullies are known as invasive plants, and they will mercilessly strangle the life out of native species if given even half a chance. To prevent invasive species from running amok, we suggest growing these native varieties which are just as beautiful and blessedly tame compared to their savage counterparts.
Just as exotic pets can wreak havoc on local animal populations, so too can non-native plant species overwhelm native ecosystems when left unchecked. This is because invasive species typically grow much faster and have fewer natural predators than their native neighbors so they can take over terrain seemingly overnight.
Despite their nasty monopolizing ways, many of these non-native plants are quite beautiful and so we might find ourselves wanting a clipping for our own gardens.
Resist the temptation!
Instead of risking the complete hostile take over of your garden, why not grow plants with all of the beauty, fragrance, and vigorous growth but with a lot more restraint? Here are our suggestions:
That style, that grace, that fragrance! Who can resist the siren song of summer wisteria? This fast growing beauty is dream of flower power and aroma, but like every plant on this list it has murderous streak. Japanese and Chinese Wisteria won’t hesitate to smother your beloved shade trees with their thick, relentless vines. Thankfully, the western varieties are just a lovely and fragrant but with the manners to grow to reasonable heights without killing off their neighbors.
How many summer afternoons have we whiled away as children sipping the sweet nectar of wild honeysuckle? Our memories of this aromatic vine may be sweet ones, but make no mistake, Lonicera japonica is an ecological nightmare. That’s why we suggest choosing its kinder, gentler cousin Lonicera sempervirens. Not only is this version less likely to take your garden hostage, it is a riot of tropical colors and a very popular hangout for hummingbirds. Win-win!
Some other flowering vines which boast a conservative habit and boundless beauty are Trumpet vine.
…. and the lovely yellow Jessamine!
English Ivy is another popular plant which can run wild at a moment’s notice. If you love the texture and foliage interest of a handsome carpet of ivy, you’re sure to appreciate our Tiarella as well! It’s eye-catching variegated leaves add distinction and this mild-mannered variety is just as attractive as ivy minus its penchant for infestation.
Want to learn more about Invasive Plants? Check this great resource!