‘Very invasive’ and ‘aggressive’ plants to avoid – ‘stay far away’

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Invasive plants are those that do not grow naturally in Britain but which, if they spread from gardens into the wild, outcompete native species. They can crowd out slower-growing native plants, or change the natural habitat of native species by drying out the soil, casting shade, or blocking the flow of streams so that the habitat is no longer suitable for native plants. Some invasive plants arrive in the UK by accident, some are planted as crops or to augment the landscape, and some are grown in our gardens and either spread by roots or seed or are dug up and dumped in the countryside. Gardening experts at BackyardBoss have listed five invasive plants gardeners should “avoid buying at garden centres”.

They said: “Although many invasive plants can be alluring and pretty, don’t fall for their tricks! These species mentioned can wreak havoc above and below ground, even on water. 

“To save yourself the hassle of cleaning up your mistake, avoid these plants to begin with. If you’re unsure of a plant you have, check with your local nursery to see if it’s invasive or not. It’s better to be safe than sorry.”

1. Bush honeysuckles 

Bush honeysuckles are upright, generally deciduous shrubs that range from six to 15 feet in height and produce a glorious scent in summer. 

Some of the common varieties gardeners may see are Morrow’s, amur, and Tartarian honeysuckle. 

However, they can rapidly invade and overtake a site, forming a dense shrub layer that crowds and shades out native plant species. 

They can alter habitats by decreasing light availability, by draining soil moisture and nutrients, and possibly by releasing toxic chemicals that prevent other plant species from growing in the vicinity.

2. Creeping Jenny 

This plant is a hardy fast-growing perennial that forms spreading mats of long stems with green or gold leaves and bright yellow flowers. 

It can often be mistaken for the creeping Charlie plant. However, while they are both “extremely difficult to control”, the experts noted that creeping Jenny doesn’t have scalloped leaves.

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They noted that a good way to identify between the two plants is to crush one of its leaves. If gardeners pick up a minty odour, then you know it’s a creeping Charlie, which is a cousin of mint plants.

These plants will thrive and keep rapidly growing in both sunny and shaded areas. However, the green-fingered pro warned: “If you don’t properly maintain it, it’s aggressive side will easily take control of your garden.”

3. Water hyacinth 

Beautiful but destructive in the wrong environment, water hyacinths are among the showiest of water garden plants. Flower stalks that grow about six inches above the foliage arise from the centres of the rosettes in spring, and by the end of spring, each plant holds as many as 20 gorgeous purple flowers that last until autumn and make striking cut flowers.

The experts explained: “As they grow, they become large floating mats, thus limiting oxygen to living organisms. 

“Not only are they a threat to other vegetation, but they also create the perfect environment for mosquitoes. If you’ve always wanted to have water hyacinths on your property, be sure to carefully go over the many pros and cons.”

4. Garlic mustard

Although this plant’s stunning white flowers are captivating, the experts note that it’s “best to avoid this plant” as it’s “very invasive”.

They explained that this plant is “troublesome” because it can easily be spread by the wind so “it’s hard to control their impact”. 

They also appear earlier in the spring than other plant varieties, giving them time to grow tall and block sunlight from native species. Persistence is key when it comes to ridding of this nuisance.

5. Mile-a-minute weed

Mile-a-minute vines also known as Devil’s-tail tearthumb, will smother the surrounding vegetation as it grows. The gardening gurus said: “They’re extremely fast and quick paced, growing an average of six inches a day. 

“Other flowers, plants, and even trees can be taken over by this plant. It prefers sites with moderate to high soil moisture and a lot of sunlight. Due to striving in these conditions, it grows near the edges of forests, roadsides, and streambanks.”

Each fruit contains a single seed called an achene, and vines can produce up to 3,500 seeds per year. The fruits are eaten by birds, deer, and other small mammals contributing to their spread. This leads to the seeds being spread miles away from the original plant.  

The experts added: “Due to its speed, it’s suggested for those who wish to cover a portion of land as fast as possible. Otherwise, most gardeners (and their plants), wish to stay far away from it.”

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