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  • Heather Raithby Doyle

Why we need to remove invasive plants from our gardens

Updated: Nov 8, 2023

By Heather Raithby Doyle

As a member of Blooming Boulevards we learn about native plants and how they support the ecosystem. Invasive plants destroy that balance.

As someone who has spent many hours removing invasive plants from the forest around Mississauga’s Adamson Estate, I would like to emphasize invasive plants are a huge problem, and they are very difficult to remove from natural areas once established. As gardeners, especially those that advocate for native plants, we should remove invasive plants from our gardens. These include English ivy, periwinkle, lily of the valley, goutweed, garlic mustard, Japanese knotweed and many more. To those who protest that these plants are contained in their garden, please understand seeds can unknowingly be dispersed through wind, birds, and foot traffic.

Highly invasive periwinkle Vinca minor has overrun the woodland areas of the Adamson Estate in Mississauga. Periwinkle is used by gardeners in landscapes where a shade ground cover is desired. It rapidly spreads mainly by stem runners and will overrun nearby woodlands, but can also spread by seed. Listed by the CVC as a CATEGORY 1 - Transformers Species that exclude all other species and dominate sites indefinitely, the list heading states "Plants in this category are a threat to natural areas wherever they occur because they tend to disperse widely (for example, through transport by birds or water). They are the top priority for control but control may be difficult. Upon detection, immediate removal is recommended. Potential for spread into other areas must also be controlled." Photo©2023_Heather Doyle.

invasive lily of the valley spreads into natural areas

Lily of the valley is a good example of a plant grown by unwary gardeners because it is widely available for sale. Provincially unregulated and available in garden centers, lily of the valley easily escapes from gardens and replaces native species in natural areas. It spreads through dispersal of seeds contained in the berries eaten by animals. This plant is now listed as a Category 2 Invasive by the CVC.

Here’s what we can do:

-Replace invasive plants with native plants in your garden

-Never dump plant material in the forest

-Tell nurseries not to market and sell invasive plants

-Educate people you know about why native plants matter, and why invasive plants are harmful

-Consider joining an invasive plant removal event in your area through the City of Missisasuga’s Natural Areas Stewardship Program

Heather (center) and friends team up to help remove invasives at the Adamson Estate.


Want to know more?

-There is no need to grow invasive plants - there are native plants for every garden condition. Grow Me Instead

-See best practices to remove invasive species: A Landowners Guide to Managing Invasive Plants

-Consult the Priority Invasive Plant List by the Credit Valley Conservation Authority

-Read Rachel Morgan' s article: Add invasive species to the list of crippling costs shouldered by municipal taxpayers. The Pointer April 09, 2023 - Brampton, Mississauga, Niagara


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