Have you ever wondered what’s lurking in your garden waiting to escape? Could you be unknowingly harboring invasive plants?
Many of BC’s invasive plants have their roots in BC’s horticultural industry and were chosen because they grow quickly, are pleasing to the eye or create a pleasant ground cover for gardens and landscaped areas. Often such plants are grown and planted without the knowledge that they can negatively impact the environment and economy through their invasive qualities.
A species such as the butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii), once celebrated by growers and gardeners alike for its robust growth, fragrance and ability to attract butterflies is now considered an invasive species in southern BC. The butterfly bush spreads rapidly using windborne seed and can displace native vegetation in disturbed areas, along forest edges, streamsides, and riverbanks.
The vigorous giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegzzianum) is another example of an ornamental gone wrong. Cultivated as an exotic and majestic plant for the garden, it has now overtaken hectares of wetlands, and has even gathered notoriety in the media recently as children and adults have required medical treatment for chemical burns after touching the sap of the plant that has reacted with sunlight. Worksafe BC has even created a regulation on the safe removal of this plant!
Other cultivated “ornamentals” such as Japanese knotweed (Fallopia sachalenensis), purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) and scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius) have escaped the confines of the garden and have quickly spread into green spaces and wetlands causing ecological damage by crowding out or displacing native plants.
Spring is the perfect time to ensure that no invasive plants are introduced to your garden or traded between backyards. It’s also a great time to contain and dispose of existing invasive plants in your garden. Proper containment and disposal is critical as these plants often have very durable and long lasting seeds. Avoid composting! Proper disposal includes bagging and incinerating all parts of the plant. Incineration may be available at local landfills. Find out how to properly dispose of these aggressive plants by contacting your local municipality or your local invasive species committee (see website link below) for more information.
When looking for plants to use to beautify your garden or community with this spring, consider using plants that are non-invasive, and are grown specifically for your region.
ISCBC is working collaboratively with the British Columbia Landscape and Nursery Association (BCLNA) and leaders in the horticulture industry to promote responsible gardening by reducing the sale and purchase of invasive plants through the PlantWise pilot program. Over the last two years, a collaborative program has created Grow Me Instead, a listing of 27 invasive horticulture plants with recommendations for safe alternatives for all growing zones in BC.
Building from the success of Grow Me Instead, the PlantWise program is an industry certification and gardener awareness program that is being piloted in key areas in BC. PlantWise works with plant growers, retailers, specifiers, landscapers, and combines voluntary industry initiatives with consumer purchasing tools and education in an effort to reduce the use of invasive plants, and increase the demand for non-invasive alternative species.
The PlantWise pilot program is being offered primarily in the Fraser Valley and Kelowna areas in 2013 with expected expansion provincially in 2014.
Be a PlantWise community leader. Keep your green spaces invasive plant free and choose non-Invasive species for your community.
For more information on the PlantWise or Grow Me Instead programs or becoming an ISCBC member contact the ISCBC at (250) 305-1003 or 1-888-933-3722.