Last post, I covered some invasive trees and suggested alternatives. Today, we cover some shrubs, ground covers, and ornamental grasses.
Instead of Japanese barberry, use Dwarf Fothergilla
Taking a hike through the woods and you quickly know when you find a bunch of thorny invasive barberry. Dwarf fothergilla doesn’t spread into the woods; all it does is have sweet scented flowers in the spring, attractive clean foliage in the summer, and great fall color.
Instead of Burning bush, use Red Chokeberry ‘Brillantissima’ , Fragrant Sumac, or Dwarf Fothergilla
Well I had to come clean on this one. Yes, I have recommend burning bush for a great splash of color in the fall. Heck, I even bought two cute little guys last fall on clearance, which my local rabbits promptly chewed down this winter. (I swear the rabbits were wearing Earth First hats!)
The three plants I now try to recommend instead are all natives with fall color that can rival the burning bush. I have started using them more and would recommend you consider doing the same, unless you’re a heartless evil BP executive!
Instead of European cranberry bush viburnum, use Highbush cranberry, otherwise known as American cranberry bush viburnum
Most people can’t tell them apart, except the American variety gets better red fall color. This is kind of a “well duh?!” choice if there ever was one. Of course if you are one of my readers from Europe, I would recommend you use YOUR native variety.
Invasive ground covers
Instead of English ivy, or Vinca minor (yikes one of my favorites), or even Japanese pachysandra (yeah that stuff that is EVERYWHERE at a certain garden I know pretty well), plant Allegheny spurge or Canadian ginger or if your soil is dry, Barren strawberry or coral bells. If it’s pretty sunny, native perennial geranium is a great choice for a perennial ground cover!
Allegheny spurge is a native evergreen gem. Note in the colder part of its range, it may be “semi-evergreen”. It does have fragrant, white flower spikes appear in spring, later becoming camouflaged by a new flush of crisp green foliage. Canadian ginger is a deciduous choice that is good for moist woodland or naturalized areas in light to dense shade. They both do need soil that does not get dry. If that’s your soil, barren strawberry or coral bells may be a good deciduous ground cover choice for you.
Instead of Japanese silver grass or Ribbon grass use Switch Grass, Prairie Dropseed or Little Bluestem
Non native grasses are some of the most invasive plants I have seen. Actually so are some natives! Luckily there are many cool non-invasive, native ornamental grasses. Try any of the native switch grasses such as Blue Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’) or Cloud Nine Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum ‘Cloud Nine’), as well as little bluestem or Prairie Dropseed.
So that’s a list of some invasive nonnative plants you may wish to avoid, as well as some native plants that could be used instead. Oh and yes, I know I have Amur maple, Burning bush, Vinca minor, Japanese pachysandra, Japanese silver grass (although my cultivar does not set seed) all in MY yard. Maybe, I should go shopping for replacements!
As with the last post, here is the proper Latin names of the plants I talked about to avoid confusion due to regional differences in common names.
- Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii),
- Dwarf Fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenia),
- Burning bush (Euonymus alatus),
- Red Chokeberry ‘Brillantissima’ (Aronia arbutifolia ‘Brilliantissima’),
- Fragrant Sumac (Rhus aromatic),
- European cranberry bush viburnum (Viburnum opulus),
- Highbush cranberry (Viburnum trilobum)
- English ivy (Hedera helix),
- Vinca minor (duh!)
- Japanese pachysandra (Pachysandra terminalis)
- Allegheny spurge (Pachysandra procumbens),
- Canadian ginger (Asarum canadense),
- Barren strawberry (Waldsteinia fragarioides),
- Coral bells (Heuchera),
- Perennial geraniums (Geranium maculatum)
- Japanese silver grass (Miscanthus sinensis),
- Ribbon grass (Phalaris arundinancea),
- Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum),
- Prairie Dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis),
- Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)