Whether you are new to gardening or a horticultural expert, after this long winter, you’re probably eager to start planning your garden. However, before choosing plants, you may want to consider the issue of invasive plants.
Invasive plants are those that have been introduced to an area outside their native range that negatively affect the environment, economy or society. Ontario has over 440 invasive plant species, some of which are sold in nurseries and garden centres. It may be hard to believe that some of the most common and beautiful garden plants can cause economic and environmental damage, but they can. Horticulture is a pathway for the introduction and spread of invasive plants.
It can be challenging to know which plants are best avoided, especially near natural areas. That is why Ontario Invasive Plant Council (OIPC) and partners created the Grow Me Instead guide. The guide helps gardeners and landscapers choose non-invasive and native plants that will thrive in their gardens and landscapes. It identifies common invasive garden plants and provides a list of non-invasive and native alternatives.
Another challenge is locating garden centres that sell non-invasive and native plants. That is why OIPC and partners also established the Grow Me Instead Nursery Recognition Program. This program recognizes retailers that carry the alternative plants featured in the guide. Thirty-six retailers are participating in Grow Me Instead.
Kellie Sherman is project liaison for the Ontario Invasive Plant Council. Kellie studied ecosystem management at Fleming College and environmental resource science at Trent University. She has worked for the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, the Natural Heritage Information Centre (Ministry of Natural Resources) and Kawartha Conservation.