Saturday, June 15, 2013

Menacing Invasive Plants

The last time you thought of a plant as menacing might have been while you watched “Little Shop of Horrors”, however there may be menacing plants hiding in plain sight in your yard, non-native invasives. I must admit that before I became more aware of this issue, I thought anything sold in the nursery trade had the potential for being a good plant in my yard. I quickly found out that several of these plants were not well adapted to my area without a lot of care. This was not as disturbing as to find out that something that I had purchased and tended to, might have the potential of escaping my yard and wreaking havoc on the local environment, much as the fire ant displaced the native harvester ant that was the main food source for the now endangered Texas horned lizard.

Thankfully not all non-natives are invasive. To find out why you would want to know which plants are non-native invasives so that you can avoid them, the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center has a wealth of information about what havoc these menaces can wreak on the environment, industry and agriculture and what you can do to help combat them. They also have some great resource links if you want to do some follow up reading. Another fun place to learn more about invasive plants is from Commander Ben’s website. This amazing teen has put together entertaining and kid friendly information about the dark side of invasive plants while providing well researched facts.

Two invasive plants that already had a foothold on my property when I acquired it, and that I do battle with, are Johnson grass and privet. They are pictured. Luckily, privet is a shallow rooted plant and before a single plant turns into a thicket, it is easily pulled with a weed wrench. Small ones can even be easily pulled by hand when the ground has enough moisture in it. Johnson grass can be hand dug but a large infestation may have to be initially controlled by chemicals. In my experience any newly opened piece of ground, especially one that is not regularly mowed such as around a newly placed post will invite Johnson grass to take up residence.

Please do your part to educate yourself so that your lovely gardens don’t become a breeding ground for an invasion on the surrounding native environment.

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