So many of the plants I grew up around or even some relatively newly introduced adapted species in the nursery trade that have characteristics that I like have unfortunately become troublesome invasive species. These include trees, shrubs and even grasses that have been introduced to the landscape trade or for livestock forage because they appeared to solve a problem, thrive across a variety of gardening zones or just looked pretty. Unfortunately many are now displacing not only native plants but endangering native fauna as well. I have previously written about some of these. Search this blog in the sidebar for “invasive” to find previous posts.
There are a lot of great online resources such as this list of central Texas invasives that will help you identify non-native invasives that may be in your area too. If you are in Texas, the Invaders of Texas program has on-demand online training and has a couple of in person workshops scheduled for later this year that should help you learn to identify invasives as well. For those of you in the DFW area, mark your calendars for a workshop in Arlington on September 27, 2014.
In addition to learning to recognize, avoid and help eliminate invasive species you can help stop the spread of invasives by using caution when adding new plants to your landscape or learning to manage some that you may have so they don’t leave your garden. There are many non-native hybrids available for purchase that have been developed that do not set seed and therefore can’t be distributed to other areas by the wildlife that visit your garden. I have a tree form wisteria that I maintain. I grew up around these lovely plants and am very fond of their spring blooms so I take the time needed to keep it pruned to tree form in a size that allows me to clip off all developing seed pods so it can’t spread.
Many invasive species identification resources such as the one above give alternative, similar native plant suggestions for you to plant if you are unable to find a sterile hybrid or won’t be able to otherwise keep a plant from potentially escaping your gardens. The local flora and fauna will appreciate your efforts to become informed gardeners.