Gardening Best Management Practices
Follow the tips below to reduce the spread of invasive plants and
help create sustainable gardens and landscapes.
• Learn to properly identify and manage invasive plants on your
property. If an infestation is discovered, remove plants as soon as
possible to prevent their spread. Techniques for removal include
pulling, removing flowers before they go to seed, and hiring a
professional to apply herbicides.
• Dispose of yard waste through your local municipality or in your
backyard compost. Do not dump yard waste in nearby natural areas
as this can smother natural vegetation and spread invasive plants.
• If disposing of invasive plants place them in a garbage bag and
leave the bag in the sun for five days. Then throw the filled bag in
the garbage or burn the contents. Do not compost as the flowers
or seeds of invasive plants as seeds can remain viable long after
the parent plant has been pulled.
• Do not remove vegetation from natural areas; they may be rare
native plants or even invasive plants.
• Dispose of annual water plants at the end of the growing season
properly. Transplanting them into local waterways could result
in these invasive plants over-wintering during mild winters and
negatively impacting native wetland and water-side vegetation.
• Purchase non-invasive or native plants from reputable suppliers.
Native plants provide food and shelter to native insects and
animals, including songbirds. A list of nurseries specializing in
native plants can be found on this website: www.nanps.org.
• Share these best management practices and spread the word to
friends, family and neighbours. Know what you are growing and be
cautious when exchanging seeds and plants with other gardeners.
• When in doubt about a plant, whether it is invasive or how it
should be controlled, contact the “Invading Species Hotline”
@ 1-800-563-7711 or www.invadingspecies.com or
Impacts of Invasive Plants
An invasive plant is an alien species whose introduction or spread negatively impacts native biodiversity, the economy and/or society, including human health. Second to habitat loss, invasive species have
been identified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as the most significant threat to biodiversity.
Invasive plants are spreading through our natural ecosystems, urban landscapes and agricultural lands at an alarming rate. These plants are introduced and spread through several pathways including:
- International, national, and regional travel and trade
- Horticulture and gardening
- Seed mixtures (re-vegetation, birdseed, wildflower)
- Transportation and utility corridors
- Wildlife, livestock, humans and pets
If native plant communities are replaced by invasive plant infestations, biodiversity declines and habitats change. Invasive plants are more than “plants out of place”. They are far-reaching in their
impacts, permanently altering landscapes and ecosystem functions and costing economies millions of dollars each year. Impacts associated with the introduction and spread of invasive plants are
not unique to one industry, organization, or community – all citizens, regions, and industries in Ontario are affected. These unwanted invaders can negatively impact:
- Rangelands by reducing forage quality and quantity
- Forestry operations by competing with seedlings for light, nutrients, and water
- Recreation opportunities by puncturing tires, obstructing trails, and reducing aesthetics
- Water quality and quantity by increasing erosion and sedimentation
- Ecosystems by disrupting photosynthesis and nutrient cycles
Impacts of invasive plants are often irreversible and restoration can be extremely difficult, if not impossible. Preventing their establishment and spread is key.
The soil and the climate of a region in large part dictate the plants and animals that naturally exist there. These species are referred to as native. They evolved together over thousands of years, forming strong ecological connections. A native plant is simply a plant that occurs
naturally or has existed for many years in an area and is connected
in an ecological sense to other plants and animals found there. This
vegetation may also be referred to as indigenous.
Specialized native plant nurseries grow native plants from seed
collected in the same region in which the resulting plants will be used.
By working with plants that are genetically adapted to your area, you
will maximize growth and vigor, and minimize heat-stress, winterkill,
frost damage, and insect and disease problems. Remember, the most
expensive planting is a failed planting. This practice of collecting
local seed for local use protects the genetic diversity of native plants.
Genetic diversity is the variation of heritable characteristics present
in a population of the same species. Ecologists view this diversity as
important as diversity at the species and ecosystem level.
From a gardener’s perspective, the source – also referred to as
provenance – is equally important. Plants grown from seed that is
collected from healthy plants growing in nearby similar environments
typically perform better. When visiting a nursery, inquire about the
seed source of plants that interest you. You may be surprised at
what you find. Always ask your local garden supplier about the
source of their plants and encourage them to provide locally-adapted
material. The widely available Canada Plant Hardiness Zones (www.
planthardiness.gc.ca), or Ontario’s Tree Seed Zones (www.fgca.net)
can help you with seed source decisions.
Grow Me Instead
Grow Me Instead informs gardening enthusiasts about some of
the popular invasive plants that can sometimes cause problems in
the landscape. It highlights a variety of native and non-native plant
alternatives found to be non-invasive in Ontario. Whether you are
adding new, attractive plants to your garden, starting a landscape
project, or removing invasive plants, we hope this guidebook will be
a valuable resource. By working together, we can ensure that future
generations will enjoy the naturally beautiful landscape of Ontario,
while creating sustainable communities, healthy ecosystems, and
Here are some great resources for selecting native plants:
- Georgian Bay Biosphere’s Best for the Biosphere Plant List
- Georgian Bay Biosphere’s Planting for Pollinators, A Guide for Eastern Georgian Bay
- Ontario Invasive Plant Council’s Grow Me Instead, A Guide for Northern Ontario
- Forest Gene Conservation Association’s Interactive Native Trees and Shrubs Map