Whether you are deciding on the landscaping for your new home or you’ve decided to update your home’s current landscaping, you should make note of these 10 invasive species of plants to never plan into your landscaping. Though they are often sold at local greenhouses and garden centers, these plants present serious risk to the health of your other landscaping and your neighbors’ as well.
Although common, Japanese spiraea should never be planted in your yard because they are capable of rapidly taking over other shrubs, grass, and trees. Once established, spiraea grows incredibly quickly and forms dense roots that overwhelm the existing native landscaping. On top of that, the seeds of Japanese spiraea are viable for many years in the soil, making it extremely difficult to control.
As one of the most commonly used shrubs, it may surprise you to see Russian Olive on this list. However, the Russian Olive is one of the top 10 shrubs you should never plant. Planting Russian Olive in your landscaping threatens your other plants by out-competing and displacing them. With thick coverage that creates dense shade, it also interferes with natural plant succession and nutrient cycling. Producing up to 200,000 seeds each year and with a root system that allows the plant to grow in even the most uninhabitable soils, the Russian Olive is more of a hassle than anything. Although beautiful, imagine what it could do to the rest of a nicely landscaped yard.
Buddleia (Butterfly Bush)
Originating from Asia, Butterfly Bush spreads rapidly and overwhelms native plant species that are beneficial to the local ecosystem. Although many believe Butterfly Bushes to be a great way to attract butterflies, it should be noted that many other, less invasive plant species attract and nourish butterflies. Since it has the ability to be invasive almost anywhere, there have been major invasions of the species on multiple continents.
Japanese barberry is a very densely-structured, invasive plant that has the ability to alter soil pH, nitrogen levels, and biological activity in the soil. Once established, it displaces native plants and alters the soil, making it much more difficult for native plants to take root. In New Jersey, Japanese barberry has even been found to raise soil pH and reduce the depth of the litter layer in forests, which is detrimental to the health of the native soil and foliage.
Threatening to a variety of habitats including forests, coastal scrublands, and prairies where it forms dense thickets and displaces native plant species, Burning Bush is a plant you should never add to your landscaping because seedlings can be found by the hundreds below the parent plant forming what is called a “seed shadow.” With a long history of invasive growth, it creates dense, impenetrable growth in the forests if it escapes the garden.
English ivy is a viral, quick-growing vine that grows both as ground cover and as a climbing vine. As the vine climbs in search of increased light, it entangles and kills branches by blocking light from reaching the tree’s leaves. Taking the tree down from the lower to upper branches, one English Ivy root system can completely destroy a large, native tree. Don’t let your landscaping destroy large shady trees that help shade your home.
Privets form dense thickets that completely cover surrounding shrubs in shade. The many shady thickets make conditions utterly unsuitable for native seedlings. Making this species even more invasive, phenolic compounds in the leaves protect the plant from leaf-feeding insects including native herbivorous species, making the impact on the ecosystem very negative.
Growing oriental bittersweet is completely irresponsible. It can be seen adorning fences, gates and doors, offering the opportunity for birds to spread the berries and drop them on the ground. In some states, it is even illegal for florists to sell bittersweet or use it in arrangements. It is rarely recommended to use pesticides to control shrubs, but for this species, an exception can be made. If you love the look of Bittersweet, opt for American Bittersweet as it is not invasive.
As one of the most popular flowering vines, it may surprise you to see Wisteria in this list. It is however, an invasive species in some areas of the eastern United States where the climate closely matches that of China. It easily displaces native species and is capable of killing sizable trees. Should you desire beautiful purple blossoms, opt for American Wisteria which doesn’t suffocate and kill large trees like its Asian counterpart.
Japanese Honeysuckle has very few natural enemies, allowing it to spread rapidly and quickly overwhelm native plant species. It has an evergreen quality which gives it an advantage over many native species. Shrubs and young trees can be killed when the vines twist tightly around branches and trunks, cutting off the flow of water through the plant and reducing the amount of sunlight that reaches the leaves.
The last thing you want is to choose plants for your landscaping that will wreak havoc on your lawn or shady trees. When choosing shrubs for your landscaping, opt for North American versions when possible. If the invasive shrub does not have a North American counterpart, call us to get help finding a plant with a similar look but without the nasty, invasive growth habits. At TLC Nursery & Outdoor Living, we are your local experts on all things landscaping!