Eeiii!!! Run for your life! We’re being invaded by invasives.
Invasive plants creep into the yard, into the garden, often unawares. They are kind of like weeds but only more so.
- They “take over” an ecosystem, causing major disturbance to areas where they are present.
- They lack natural predators that would keep them in balance with other plants in the region.
- They reproduce quickly.
What is not to scream and run around about?
I’ve known about invasive plants for decades, but there are always more to learn about. An example of one that has recently come to my notice came from walking in the woods these past few years. I noticed a low, lush grass growing along trails, dirt roads and around the edges of my yard. I began seeing it “everywhere” and wondered what it was. When I took a sample to our Extension Agent he said, only half jokingly, “Get that stuff out of here!” Since that day I’ve spent hours bent over, pulling up Japanese Stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum) by the roots.
Know who’s on your side
The natural world is constantly evolving and we humans are in a dance with plants of all kinds. Knowing some common horticulture terms can help us make the right choice for a healthy, thriving landscape.
- Native: a plant that has been growing in a region for a long time and has adapted to that region’s ecosystem. Native plants are a source of food for bugs and birds and are in balance with other native species of the region.
- Non-native plant: a plant that has been introduced recently to a region.
- Invasive: a non-native plant that reproduces very quickly.
- Exotic: same as non-native.
- Cultivar: a plant that is propagated to encourage specific traits.
An example of a cultivar is the Knock-out ™ rose. It was cultivated from another rose species to create a rose that can withstand the cold, blooms non-stop, and is more disease resistant than standard roses. A cultivar is not the same as a genetically modified organism (GMO). “Cultivars can have sterile flowers and produce no seeds. In some cases, cultivars do not provide food sources for leaf-eating and pollinating insects, as their native counterparts do.” (https://grownative.org/learn/natives-cultivars-and-nativars/)
Good guys – natives are plant heroes
How to fight invasives
- Get to know the invasive species that are likely to appear in your area. The Georgia Invasive Species Task Force has a variety of publications that identify invasive plants in different settings. The site also provides basic information on how to combat invasives.
- Avoid planting Invasives. When given the choice, select native plants. Other options include cultivars, nativars (cultivars created from native plants) and carefully selected exotics.
- Get rid of them! Pull them out – root and all.
- Plant native plants when and where possible. These plants tend to be hardy and easier to care for. Check out the University of Georgia Extension’s lists of native plants that will thrive in North Georgia.
Bad Guys – and some of these you thought were your friends…
Note that not all non-native plants are bad and some may be the best fit for your landscape. The key is knowing what you want for and in your landscape.
Don’t let invasives scare you out of your garden or yard. Take charge! Getting rid of invasives is not for the faint of heart, but it can be done. If the task is too daunting or you need help getting started, call for help. The pros from Art of Stone Gardening will help you beat back the invasives.