just planted bed of invasive species

plagioMay 31, 2009

No, I am not some kind of weirdo -- I just didn't know what I was doing. I posted a few threads down and some folks here were kind enough to ID some plants that I bought.

I just went to a large nursery and bought some plants that looked cool and were cheap. I think they look nice in my bed.

What I really like is more of a cottage garden type look, which this totally is not, but I wanted to fill it now, while I learn more about plants and which ones I want to use, eventually. I like looking on line and ordering heritage varieties of things that smell good, or picking up things at the farmers market (though they are expensive there) and that will all take time.

Anyway, I seem to post here late at night and babble and/or upload crappy photos so I'll stop, but does anyone know just how bad a thing that I have done? My plants are:

varigated privet

japanese bayberry (I thought it was loropetalum but got stuck with thorns when I planted it so I guess it is bayberry)

fireball nandina

I think another nandina of some type

Sorry for any typos, it is late.

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I paid $25 each for my privet and nandina so yeah you did get them pretty cheap.

I have had all three (the Barberry died though) and have not had a problem with them. I have not had one privet in a little over three years come up anywhere, even around the plant. It is just huge. The Nandina has not spread anywhere although I have a neighbor who gets a few that come up in random spots in her yard. I had a hard time getting the Barberry to live much less spread and I generally don't have a hard time getting things to grow.

Those of course are my experiences. I have researched all three and there does not seem to be a consensus as to whether they are pests in the Carolinas or not. I have seen personal accounts of issues with all three but they were in warmer areas.

All that being said, someone else may have a more educated response than mine.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2009 at 8:06AM
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The only guy on the list that I would worry about right away is the privet. They can be impossible to remove once they take hold. They send up suckers from underground roots all around the yard, the neighbors yard, the ditch at the end of the road, the highway leading to the next state... you get the picture. They are easy to grow and look good all year and they are cheap - so a million people plant them. You could keep them for a year or so but once they get old enough to bloom I would dig them out and place them in a plastic bag and throw them in the trash (do not compost them).

Barberrys and Nandinas can be invasive in some areas but they are not a huge problem in Raleigh as far as I can see. Every once in a while I might find a stray seedling of Nandina out in the woods while hiking but it is rare. If you want the color but don't want the problem you could just clip off the branches with berries in the fall and winter before the birds eat them. Some of the Nandinas rarely set viable seed but I don't know which ones that is so it might be best to treat them all the same.

It sometimes takes a few years for newly planted bushes to take off so you have some time before your garden starts to spread around your yard.

New information about the bad qualities of common yard plants gets discovered every year. You will never be able to stay on top of things so the best thing to do is plant what you like but take care of it properly. Keep it under control and when that becomes too much work, dig it up and throw it away (wrapped in plastic, in the trash, do not compost them).

    Bookmark   June 1, 2009 at 9:27AM
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I know the common privet is a pest (We inherited a few with the property and there are not words for how I feel about that. No decent ones anyway.) I am curious, does this go for the variegated type as well? I have gotten a lot of conflicting information regarding this particular variety and it has bloomed for three years with no problems.. yet.

I am not trying to be contrary. I am sure you would probably know better than I do but I want to make for sure we are talking about the same plant before I do something drastic. If it is going to end up being the same kind of pest, something will need to be done for sure.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2009 at 10:54AM
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Thank you. We do have a compost pile that is 6 months old and going well. We started that because of our new veggie garden. We put so much work into that (the garden, not the compost) I can't imagine how devastated we would be to put clippings into that and have privet take over our raised beds!

I appreciate knowing that we will be OK for some time. I do want to be a responsible gardener and I am sure I can find plants that I like that do not have this problem, and I will go with those in the future. I also don't want to over-react and pull it all out. And be left with the stress of what to put in instead. This whole thing is supposed to be fun and I don't want to feel stressed.

I guess each new hobby is a learning experience and the world of plants is so large.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2009 at 11:56AM
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I can't find any reference to "fireball" nandina so you must have "Firepower", I think. If so, it produces no flowers (or fruit) so the invasive potential is probably zero on that!

While I abhor Ligustrum with a passion, the variegated one supposedly does not produce seeds (although it does flower). If you see if produce seeds after flowering, then just cut them off and put them in the trash (not compost).

Barberry is not as bad around here as it is further north. While I find plenty of nandina seedlings in the woods (people underestimate that plant's invasiveness), I have never found a barberry one.

You are certainly learning here - we have all been in your position in the beginning. The important thing is that you are willing to learn and research your choices and adapt as you go along.

Now that you have some shrubs, consider perennial plants. A great perennial for full sun areas is daylily. Look for ones that say they are "rebloomers". After a year or two, the plants will increase in size and you can split them and have more plants! And of course knockout roses are fabulous, carefree and love sun. Plus - very cottage-y.

Good luck - keep asking questions!

    Bookmark   June 1, 2009 at 12:28PM
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Most of the published information is focused on fruit production - berries, berries that might be eaten by birds and spread far and wide. But I say, if it blooms it probably produces pollen that contributes to the problem with all the now wild privet also blooming at the same time. Just because we never see variegated privet deep in the woods doesn't mean it isn't part of the problem. Personally my allergies go ya ya when this group of bushes blooms so I would love it if everyone everywhere would cut the flowers off of their privets (all types, thank you very much).

We had this same problem years ago when 'Bradford' pears were developed. The selling point was that they were sterile. What they meant was that they weren't supposed to produce fruit. But they still produced pollen and they mixed it up with other pear species and we now have these mutant pears with 4 inch thorns popping up in the woods and along roadsides. Follow the money - if the person that stands to make money off of you buying the plant tells you it is sterile and harmless I would expect that some truths are being stretched in order to make the sale.

We will never get ahead of the invasive species problem. The magnitude of the problem was discovered far too late in the game. The best we can hope for is for everyone to be responsible with what they grow. If you want plants that fill in and cover a lot of ground quickly you are going to have to grow invasives - that's what they do. When the workload gets too much for you, clean up your mess and find something else to grow. Some plants just require more management than others.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2009 at 1:53PM
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Hey -- I did also buy day lillies! I do like those and will plant them soon. Thanks for the encouragement!

Triangle John, I hear you about something that seems like a quick and easy and cheap solution being more work in the end. I think that holds true in most aspects of life -- doing something the short-cut or easy way and having to pay later. I am a busy working mother of two small children (well, all mothers are working but I work out of the home). I can't imagine having to trim all flowers and berries off things. That sounds like real PITA. I also want to sit outside and look at my garden and feel good about it. I think the privet will be pulled soon.

My husband said he saw some driving to work this AM that was very high and looked like monsters. I am sure now that we know what this stuff is will will notice it everywhere.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2009 at 2:28PM
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There are plenty of other low cost carefree plants and trees that aren't invasive or overplanted. Vitex agnus-castus (chaste tree), osmanthus fragrans (sweet tea olive), cotinus coggygria (smoketree), and styrax japonica (Japanese snowbell) are unusual in the suburban landscape but excellent trees and shrubs that require little care once established. For perennials, try salvia greggii, the Big Sky echinacea series, nepeta (catmint), or almost any agastache. These are just a few in my own garden; there are thousands of options out there!

Kudos to you for becoming informed on here...lots of us have gone down the same path here. I learn something every time I log on here. These are smart garden people!

    Bookmark   June 2, 2009 at 7:31PM
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Thank you, mbuckmaster -- I appreciate the specific suggestions. I will google those and see what they look like. I see that the NC Bontanical Gardens in Chapel Hill. I think I have seen them there before. I guess that would be a place to try.

I think some types of viburnum may work well, too.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2009 at 8:13PM
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At the time I got the privet, I knew privet was invasive but I didn't know that ligustrum and privet were the same thing. I actually didn't find out until a few years later when I plugged it into a search engine to get more information on it. Then when I did do research further I couldn't get enough information to make an informed decision.

I guess my question now is, pollen being an issue, does this include such things as non-invasive varieties of honeysuckle and other non invasive varieties of invasive plants?

    Bookmark   June 2, 2009 at 10:08PM
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I guess my question now is, pollen being an issue, does this include such things as non-invasive varieties of honeysuckle and other non invasive varieties of invasive plants?

The cross pollination issue comes into play when you have a plant that is "sterile" like the 'Bradford' pear. It became "fertile" when it got cross pollinated. You have other plants that are not invasive, not because they are sterile, but because their seeds don't germinate well here or they do but they can't take the heat/cold/some other factor. That is why some plants are invasive in other areas of the country and not here (and vice versa, not all of our invasives are pests up north).

Usually, if a species of a particular plant is invasive (example of a species would be Lonicera maackii), the potential for it to be invasive is passed down to any "relatives" (such as Lonicera x bella which has L. maackii as a parent); the invasiveness might not show up right away but might need time or age (or a partner) to do so. And some plants are not invasive to the homeowners eye (such as rampant spreading) but quietly spread seeds thanks to the birds. New plants pop up, no one destroys them and the spread continues as they mature.

By the way, plagio - I second the recommendation for a Tea Olive, it has wonderful fragrance.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2009 at 7:05AM
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Thank you for taking the time to post that in-depth explanation Esh_ga.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2009 at 2:00PM
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token28001(zone7b NC)

Tea Olives are wonderful plants.

As for privet, the variegated can set seeds. They may or may not be viable, but like pink dogwoods, they revert to their original state which is the small, green leaved varieties. If you clip the flowers right after they bloom, they can be controlled. Same with nandina. I've got several very old plants and haven't found any seedlings in 2 years. Maybe the birds carry them far away. I do get mahonia reseeders, but I don't mind those. They're nice shrubs and are easily pulled out.

I think it depends on your location and what the birds have to eat. They will choose seed from a feeder over some native plants if given the choice.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2009 at 12:05AM
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Tammy Kennedy

another side note on the privets and ligustrums- they have a very high allergen factor, not only for john and i but for most folks. We finally got all of ours pulled out and our neighbor went and planted some more! Argh!

I find that my nandinas do reseed all over the place. I pull all the seedlings i can find. 3 of mine had been labelled firepower when i bought them at broadwell's, but definitely flower & set fruit, so i don't know if they were mislabeled or not. Those seeds do sprout.

I third osmanthus/tea olives. Styrax, halesia, fringetree and cotinus are all wonderful shrubs/small trees as well (some were mentioned above).

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 4:03PM
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Hike just about anywhere in Orange Cty and you will see how much birds like privet berries. It's a shame, but worth some research to see if your variegated ones set viable seed. Good luck, and kudos for being a responsible gardener.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2009 at 7:22PM
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I would add Lantana and Crape Myrtles. My nandina is seeding out in the woods - I don't mind a few out there but will start pulling if they start getting invasive. I use the berries for fall and holiday decorations......


    Bookmark   June 24, 2009 at 3:32PM
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