Bad plants and better alternatives

With the arrival of the cool weather of fall, we enter another prime time to plant hardy perennials, shrubs, and trees! But not all plants sold at the nursery should be planted, as tempting as they might be. Prime example: Euonymus alatus (aka Burning Bush). Besides the nice red color, it produces copious amounts of seed in late fall, which are picked up by birds and deposited around the immediate area and beyond. These seeds germinate and grow thick stands of new plants that choke out native plants on which wildlife depend for food and shelter. It has landed Burning Bush on the invasive plants list in several states. The same story is true for many Butterfly Bush (Buddleia spp.) varieties. Below is a chart of good native alternatives to popular (though invasive) shrubs. I’ve grouped these plants by similar characteristics.

Invasive plant

Native alternatives

Euonymus alatus (Burning Bush)

  • Itea virginica (Sweetspire)
  • (Aronia arbutifolia (Chokeberry)
  • Fothergilla (Witch Alder)

Lonicera japonica (Japanese or asian honeysuckle)

  • Gelsemium sempervirens (Carolina jessamine)
  • Lonicera sempervirens (Coral honeysuckle)

Celastrus orbiculatus (Oriental bittersweet)

  • Bignonia capreolata (crossvine)

Elaeagnus species (Russian, Autumn Olive)

  • Ilex verticillata (Winterberry holly)
  • Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon holly)
  • Viburnum nudum (Blackhaw viburnum)

Hedera helix (English ivy)

  • Hydrangea anomola sub sp. petiolaris (Climbing hydrangea)
  • Pachysandra procumbens (Allegheny spurge)

Albizia julibrissin (Mimosa, Silk tree)

  • Cercis canadensis (Eastern redbud)
  • Oxydendrum arboreum (Sourwood)

Miscanthus sinensis (Chinese silvergrass)

  • Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass)
  • Muhlenbergia capillaris (Pink Muhly grass)

Nandina domestica (Heavenly bamboo)

  • Physocarpus opulifolius (Ninebark)


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One Response to Bad plants and better alternatives

  1. Pingback: Stopping invasive plants a team effort | The Garden Dude

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