Hello fellow readers,
Thank you for your kind wishes for a return to health. I am grateful to feel well again…. Please excuse the late posting of the column due to power and internet outages caused by the nor’easter that slammed the northeast on Friday. It’s been quite an adventure!
As promised, a continuum of a recent talk by Bruce Crawford of Rutgers University about “official-looking” Do Not Plant lists that often include plants that aren’t necessarily invasive if planted in the right place. And many lists, such as the one published by the NJ Invasive Species Strike Team (http://www.njisst.org/index.asp), is “not a state law,” stressed Crawford. Still, there are popular plants to be avoided and others on Do Not Plant lists that Bruce feels are unwarranted. For example:
Maple – While Norway maple (Acer platanoides) introduced in the 1700’s was once prized as a street tree, it is now considered invasive. However, “Japanese maples (A. palmatum) are popping up on the list,” noted Bruce. “Yet they are slow growing, easy to remove, and don’t impact understory areas.”
Poison Ivy – Sure, we don’t voluntarily plant poison ivy though a handsome vine. “You can’t say a problem or invasive plant is always from other countries.” Bruce went on to share “one of the biggest pests at Rutgers Garden is Toxicodendron radicans which is native and has an ecological purpose” (providing food for wildlife). Another ambitious weed is pokeweed, Phytolacca Americana, which is also native. Then there’s Mile-A-Minute Weed, Persicaria perfoliate, native to Asia.
English ivy– another handsome vine native to Europe that forms seeds as an adult in trees. However, Hedera helix “as a groundcover doesn’t fruit or seed and therefore invasiveness is not an issue.”
Japanese silver grass – Many newer earlier blooming varieties are considered invasive. However, ‘Gracillimus’, the original Miscanthus sinensis brought over in the 1880’s, flowers in October and therefore “isn’t as invasive,” per Bruce.
Japanese barberry – We dread the Berberis thunbergii taking over forest floors. Bruce notes it’s the green form that’s most invasive. The ‘Crimson Pygmy’ purple dwarf and golden forms “barely produce seeds.” Still, I avoid barberry and prefer planting maroon leaved Weigelia Wine & Roses (W. florida ‘Alexandra’) which is also high in deer resistance.
Kousa dogwood – It’s hard to imagine Cornus kousa is on some Do Not Plant lists. Only once has Bruce seen it self-seed. “It has great bark, fruit, and flowers. It’s a great plant,” touts Bruce. So much so that Rutgers recently introduced ‘Rutpink’ trade named Scarlet Fire – a dark pink almost red flowering beauty sure to be on many Please Do Plant Lists. Garden Dilemmas? Askmarystone@gmail.com