Click to enlarge | Photo: Sarah Coulber, CWF
Q: How do I remove non-native invasive plants from my garden?
A: The best advice is to become familiar with plants that are native to your region and plant those in your gardens. There are many benefits to planting native. Native plants require less maintenance, are less susceptible to disease and pests and are better suited to meet the needs of local wildlife. Visit our Native Plant Suppliers List to help find native plant suppliers in your area and our Native Plant Encyclopedia to help determine which plants are native to your area. For a list of common invasive plants please visit invadingspecies.com.
If invasive plants are already established in your garden, below are some tips on how to control or remove them from your garden:
- Physically pull or dig out any roots and shoots.
- Cut or pinch off flower heads before they have a chance to go to seed.
- Apply white vinegar to the leaves of the invasive plant with a small brush. The vinegar most of us are familiar with is a five per cent or 10 per cent solution. Twenty per cent solution vinegar may be required for established invasives, or you can try repeated applications of regular vinegar. Be sure to apply the vinegar to the leaves only; if you apply it to soil it can harm beneficial insects.
- To prevent unwanted plants from germinating, an organic preemergent such as corn gluten meal (CGM) can be used. Organic preemergents work by stopping the growth of newly emerging seeds, killing the plant before it becomes a problem.
Once your invasive plants have been pulled, take care in how you dispose of them. It is common for plants to take root again, or for seeds to establish.
Some important points to remember:
- Home composting is not suitable for most invasive plants. Domestic compost piles and bins do not generate adequate heat to destroy seeds and roots.
- Never dispose of your garden waste in natural areas.
- If your property is adjacent to a natural area or shoreline, it is especially important to use native plants to avoid introducing non-natives.
- Be careful not to share non-native invasive plants with your friends.
Send Terri-Lee, a Conservation Researcher at CWF, your wildlife questions! Your question and answer could be featured in a future issue of Wildlife Update!