Walk through any neighborhood and you’ll see the same plants used over and over again. Landscapers and garden designers seem to use the same limited palette of plants all the time, even from region to region.
Some of these plants are quite invasive and actually destroy wildlife habitat. But how do you know what to plant instead?
Our team has been busily compiling a wonderful list of native alternatives to these plants, and I wanted to gather these suggestions together into one place so you can easily find them.
Vincent Vizachero wrote about an excellent resource for discovering the best native alternatives to invasive plants.
Genevieve Schmidt started this theme because she wanted to do a “Plant This, Not That” for California natives! She said “It kills me when I see someone choose some everyday, normal old plant when they could be adding wildlife value and getting a similar color or textural effect in the garden. Not to mention the nod to regional sensibilities inherent in using a native plant!”
Gen taught us about California native alternatives for Yarrow, Calendula, and Camellia.
Pat Sutton took up the challenge with Plant This, Not That: New Jersey Natives Edition where she compared the wildlife value of Eastern Red Cedar, Juniperus virginiana, vs Leyland Cypress.
Following her lead, Debbie Roberts took up this idea with Plant This, Not That: Connecticut Natives Edition. Debbie suggested native alternatives for Nellie Stevens Holly, Maidengrass, and Butterfly Bush.
Donna Donabella jumped in with Plant This, Not That: New York Natives Edition, where she gives wonderful native alternatives to some highly invasive plants: bush honeysuckle, Barberry, Bishop’s Weed, Rose of Sharon, and Burning Bush.
Pat Sutton returned with Plant This, Not That: New Jersey Natives Edition, where she lined up Black Cherry, Prunus serotina, vs Bradford Pear. When you discover how much wildlife is supported by Black Cherry and how much damage Bradford Pear is doing to our natural ecosystems, this one is a no-brainer.
I originally wrote about Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants when the UN announced that invasive species and climate change are the biggest threat to ecosystems and biodiversity. The cost of controlling invasive plants in the US is estimated at more than $138 billion every year. But invasive plants continue to be sold by the horticultural trade who have turned a blind eye to this problem in the pursuit of profits.
Heather Holm discussed native alternatives to invasive Creeping Bellflower.
Karyl Seppall gives a great native alternative to invasive Japanese Barberry.
I’ll continue to add to this post as new articles are released in this series.
What is your favorite native alternative to an invasive or overused landscaping plant?
Carole Sevilla Brown lives in Philadelphia, PA, and she travels the country speaking about Ecosystem Gardening for Wildlife. Check out her new free online course Ecosystem Gardening Essentials, 15 free lessons delivered to your inbox every week.
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