What Not to Plant
Plants to avoid
Sometimes it’s more than the thought that counts. Many well-intentioned people plant invasive plants without knowing it. Invasive species often out-compete native species that are necessary for wildlife to complete their life cycles. Here are some commonly used invasive species:
Pachysandra Creeping jenny
Japanese silver grass (miscanthus)
Heavenly bamboo (nandina)
Periwinkle (vinca minor)
Vinca vine (vinca major),
Winter creeper (euonymus fortunei)
A couple of those might have really surprised you. Native oaks are one of the best things you can plant for biodiversity. A single oak tree supports over 500 insects. These insects become food for birds, amphibians, and reptiles and contribute to a healthy ecosystem. Sawtooth oak is not native and displaces native trees in forests leaving a gap in nutritional value in the ecosystem.
Butterfly bush might have also surprised you. Many people plant butterfly bushes with the intention to help butterflies. Butterfly bush provides a lot of nectar for butterflies and they seem to love it. The problem is that it is not a host plant to any of our native butterflies. Butterflies are not able to complete their life cycles with a butterfly bush. Butterflies need a native host plant to lay their larva. Caterpillars need to be able to eat the host plant to be able to survive. In addition, butterfly bushes are very invasive. They can choke out native plants necessary for insects to complete their lifecycles. Also, if butterflies are spending most of their time eating the nectar from a butterfly bush they are not using that time to pollinate other native plants that are critical to maintaining a healthy ecosystem.
Planting natives that have naturally evolved with wildlife is best. It's also ok to have some exotic favorites as long as they are not invasive. More to come on the best species to plant. Happy gardening.