Hot Topic! Invasive Plantings


Finally, with this recent burst of nice weather we are able to go from dreaming about the outdoors to spending time outside. The time has come to work in our yards and gardens. Cleaning up the beds, laying down some mulch, and planting that new bush or shrub. As you head to the nursery or plant sale, be aware that some greenhouses still sell invasive plants and this spring fever of plantings can be a time where invasives gain traction.

What makes an invasive species invasive? In some cases it can be the growth rate which can be stunning as is highlighted in this video of Japanese knotweed from the BBC. You can use this video along with the mystery graph lesson to kick off your classroom study of this impressive invader.

As you decide what to plant in your yard and garden keep in mind that some species of plants are invasive to Maine. To raise awareness around the state, Nancy Olmstead from the Maine Natural Areas Program (MNAP), is putting together a “do not plant” list for this state. In addition, the University of Maine Cooperative Extension has some useful information on what not to plant when deciding to add some greenery to your yard.

Purple loosetrife photo by Linda McD

Three plants of note are purple loosestrife, Japanese barberry, and burning bush. These species are planted for their vibrant colors yet are all considered highly invasive plants! These are also a few of the species that you can monitor with Vital Signs. Over the next few months, as plants leaf out and flower, the timing is right to be on the lookout invasive plants in your yard and community. You and your students can play a critical role in protecting Maine’s native habitats from these invasives, and you may not have to go any further than your own backyard and schoolyard!


What plants are you planning on putting in your yard or garden this year?