Rule number 7 mentioned that choices based on looks alone are often more trouble than they are worth. Such is often the case when we add non-native, invasive species to our landscapes.
As defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture: Invasive plants are introduced species that can thrive in areas beyond their natural range of dispersal. These plants are characteristically adaptable, aggressive, and have a high reproductive capacity. Their vigor combined with a lack of natural enemies often leads to outbreak populations.
As gardeners, it is sometimes tempting to want to add some of these plants to our landscape. After all, a plant that self-propagates or spreads to quickly fill in a large area can seem like a good thing. But once invasive plants take over our native plants, the result can be:
- an area's natural biodiversity is destroyed
- native plants can eventually become permanently eliminated
- the animals that need native plants for food and habitat cannot use many of the non-native ones
- it can costs billions of dollars to control invasive exotic plants
Once you decide to start creating a more eco-friendly garden, some of the decisions you have to make may be tough ones. But in the long run, choosing native plants, or at least NON-invasive species, will be much better for the environment and much easier to maintain.
Here are links for more information about invasive plant species in the area:
Invasive Species of Concern in Maryland
Invasive Alien Plant Species of Virginia (pdf file)
Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (pdf file)