Defined as non-native species that are likely to cause harm to wildlife or an environment, invasive plants sometimes have an appealing look, thanks to flowers or colorful leaves. But according to the U.S. Forest Service, they can get ugly when it comes to their impact on a landscape.
Invasive species can degrade wildlife habitat, negatively affect water quality, increase soil erosion, block out other plants and compete with native species for soil nutrients and sunlight. That’s a big price to pay for a few flowers.
Sometimes you can spot invasive plants easily because, well, they tend to invade — taking over a garden quickly and becoming challenging to control. Others are more subtle in their attack.
Don’t want to wage war on your landscape? You may want to steer clear of these six lovely —but risky —species. If you like the look of these varieties, you can replicate that appeal with plants that are easier to manage and play well with others.
We review the beastly traits of these beauties and offer kinder, gentler garden options.
Reed Canary Grass
Usually found in wetland environments, reed canary grass tends to thwart wetland preservation efforts because it suppresses other plants. Reduced plant diversity leads to problems like increased insect activity and less food for wildlife. Like the look of tall grasses? Opt for a native grass instead. Bluestem or switchgrass are good non-invasive options.
Photo: ©Marina Andrejchenko
Another option with lovely purple flowers, butterfly bush gets its name from being attractive to pollinators. But it also pushes out native species easily. Good news, though: You can get a version that doesn’t aggressively re-seed everywhere. Look for one called “summer lilac” or buddleia.
Keep It Wild
As gorgeous as wildflowers might be, resist the urge to pick a bunch from a field or ditch and bring them home. Invasive plants are notorious for spreading seeds easily, which is how they take over. Even carrying them into your house might cause seeding in some form (a very serious threat in a log or timber home). If you want to enjoy the beauty of wildflowers safely, take a photo instead.
Get even more log home landscaping ideas here!