How to Deal With Invasive Plants

How to deal with invasive plants in BC

Invasive species of plants lurk in the shadows and in plain sight in many different areas of your garden. They slip under the fence from your neighbour’s gardens, creep up under dense foliage,  build a network of roots underground, and suddenly appear in your pristine garden beds through seeds from a bird. Invasive species of plants can be the bane of a gardener’s daily life.

When dealing with invasive species of plants in your garden, it’s important to act promptly. Within a blink of an eye, they have multiplied, divided, and conquered your garden. After all, they’re called invasive for a reason.

How to deal with invasive plants in BC

What is an invasive plant?

Invasives are plant species that are not native to a particular ecosystem. They may have been introduced and spread vigorously and rapidly in nature, which can often harm the environment they’re introduced to. Invasive species of plants have the uncanny ability to outcompete native plants, disrupt natural habitats, and alter the ecosystem’s balance. Hence their invasiveness.

How to deal with invasive plants in BC
English Ivy is a great example of an invasive plant in Victoria, BC
How to deal with invasive plants in BC
English Ivy is a great example of an invasive plant in Victoria, BC

Classic characteristics of invasive species of plants include:

  • Rapid growth and reproduction
  • Aggressive and competitive nature
  • Lack of natural predators or controls
  • Adaptability to different environments

Invasive plants can also alter nutrient cycles, disrupt existing food webs, and reduce or alter habitat quality for wildlife.

Which plants are invasive in your garden?

Familiarize yourself with the invasive species in your area and learn to distinguish them from native or beneficial plants. For example, in Victoria, BC, where Costa Verde Landscaping and Gardening operates, we have five top invasive species that we deal with.

5 common invasive plant species in Victoria, BC:

  1. English Ivy
  2. Daphne Laurel
  3. Scotch Broom
  4. Himalayan Blackberry
  5. St. John’s wort

There are many other invasive plants in BC, including Giant Hogweed, Knotweeds, Canada Thistle, Cheatgrass, Burdock, Tansy, Leafy Spurge, and more.

How to deal with invasive plants in BC
Caption: English Ivy is a great example of an invasive plant in Victoria, BC

Are weeds the same as invasive species?

“No. A weed is commonly thought of as an unwanted plant in a given area, such as a vegetable garden or lawn. An invasive plant is a plant that when transplanted from its native habitat, grows aggressively, out-competing and displacing desired vegetation.”

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How to deal with invasive plants in your garden

Monitor your garden and regularly inspect your garden’s boundaries, underneath dense-foliage plants, and around the trunks of bigger plants. Check if there are any local regulations or guidelines regarding invasive species management. Some regions may have specific recommendations or restrictions on how to handle certain invasive species.

In BC, the BC Government website on invasive plants and the Invasive Species Council of BC are great resources to check out.

When should you tackle your invasives?

You want to get rid of invasive plants as quickly as possible to prevent them from spreading further. There is, however, a theory that applies to some species, like Scotch Broom.

How to deal with invasive plants in BC

The theory is that if you wait for Scotch Broom to flower or fruit, then it has used a great deal of its energy to produce flowers, so when you cut it down and remove it, the plant is weakened and may not come back as aggressively. (You may have seen local signs in BC that say “cut broom in bloom” which supports this theory.)

When it comes to the removal or control of invasive species, there are two main methods you can use:

  • Mechanical removal: Hand-pulling or digging out the plants is adequate for small infestations. Remove the entire plant, including as much of the root system as possible. Most species like ivy or blackberry, can reroot from the tiniest little piece left in a bed. In some bad cases, excavating may be necessary to remove the deep and widespread roots.
  • Chemical control: Or, for larger infestations, herbicides may be necessary. However, using herbicides responsibly and following instructions are essential. Choose a herbicide that specifically targets the invasive species you’re dealing with, and avoid harming desirable plants or the environment.

We recommend staying away from chemicals that can be harmful to you and the environment. They may have a wider impact that is unfavourable, including harming helpful insects and birds or contaminating the soil and groundwater.

*Always exhaust all other options and try mechanical or organic methods first. You can also get a professional opinion or hire help.

Disposing of invasive plants properly

Always dispose of invasive species properly! Do not add them to the compost. (Unless you have a hot composting system that you are 100% sure can kill the seeds or plant parts, but when in doubt, throw it out!) Instead, bag and dispose of them in the appropriate trash collection or landfill. Double-check with your local city services for best practices when it comes to proper disposal.

Keep on it: Play your part to help remove invasive plants

How to deal with invasive plants in BC

Remember, dealing with invasive species requires ongoing vigilance. By regularly monitoring your garden and taking proactive measures, you can effectively manage invasive species and maintain a healthy ecosystem. We all have a role to play in protecting our natural environment.

If you’re uncertain about the best approach for a specific invasive species, or the invasive species has already invaded and you are struggling to get back in control of your garden, bring in help!

If you’re in Victoria, BC, connect with our team at Costa Verde. We would be happy to come to see your garden and talk about your options.