You’ve probably heard that native plants are better for your garden than non-native, invasive plants. But what’s the difference? And why are invasives a problem? Knowing some common horticulture terms can help you make the right choice for your garden. To help you pick the best plants for a healthy, thriving landscape, we’ve defined some common terms below.
Common landscaping terms:
- Native: a plant that has been growing in a region for a long time and has adapted to that region’s ecosystem. Native plants are a source of food for bugs and birds and are in balance with other native species of the region. Some flowers native to northern Georgia are blue cohosh, goldenseal, and jack-in-the pulpit.
- Non-native plant: a plant that has been introduced recently to a region.
- Invasive: a non-native plant that reproduces very quickly.
- Exotic: same as non-native.
- Cultivar: a plant that is propagated to encourage specific traits. The Knock-out ™ rose, for instance, was cultivated from another rose species to create a rose that can withstand the cold, blooms non-stop, and is more disease resistant that standard roses. A cultivar is not the same as a genetically modified organism (GMO).
Invasive plants are a problem because they lack natural predators that would keep them in balance with other plants in the region. Invasives can reproduce quickly and “take over” an ecosystem, causing major disturbance to areas where they are present. For example, they can displace native plants that are food and shelter for wildlife. A classic example of an invasive species is Kudzu (Pueraria montana), which was introduced to the United States in 1876.
What can you do about invasives?
- Get to know them. Some common invasives are Autumn Olive (Eleagnus umbellata), Japanese Ivy (Hedera helix), Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica), Privet (Ligustrum sinense), and Kudzu. The Georgia Invasive Species Task Force has compiled this complete list of invasive plants in Georgia.
- Avoid planting invasives in your garden.
- If invasives already are in your garden and you can get rid of them, pull them out – root and all. If this task seems daunting, don’t hesitate to call in the pros from Art of Stone. We can help you get the job done right!
- Plant native plants when and where possible. These plants tend to be hardy and easier to care for. Check out the University of Georgia Extension’s list of native plants that can be found in North Georgia.
Of course, not all non-native plants are bad and some may be the best fit for your garden. The key is avoiding and removing invasive non-native plants. For guidance on what plants will work best in your landscape, contact the experts at Art of Stone.
For more details on this invasive: Invasive Stiltgrass