While those plants you looked up online might look beautiful in your garden, it’s important to do your research and ensure you don’t end up with a flower-bed full of invasive weeds.
The cost of invasive species to Canada is between $16.6 billion and $34.5 billion per year. In British Columbia, just six invasive plant species caused an estimated combined damage of at least $65 million in 2008. With further spread, impacts will more than double to $139 million by 2020.
With the warm weather bringing out gardeners in full force, the Columbia-Shuswap Invasive Species Society (CSISS) has a reminder to be careful when selecting plants for the garden, as well as aquatic plants for their ponds.
“Water garden species can be lovely, but those with invasive tendencies can cause major problems in your garden as well as the wider environment” says Sue Davies, aquatic program coordinator of CSISS. “When aquatic plants and animals begin to invade, they can totally take over and are extremely difficult to remove. They can create havoc within natural ecosystems and also for human use of waterways. It’s really important to prevent these species getting a toe-hold, and knowing what not to bring into your garden is the key.”
Despite being listed on the provincial noxious weed list, certain invasive plants such as the Flowering Rush can be found in some garden stores throughout B.C. Flowering Rush is a species to be on the alert for, as it has already been found in British Columbia but is not yet established. The public is asked to help prevent the spread of this high priority plant by reporting any sightings and by never planting flowering rush in water gardens.
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Flowering rush is regarded as one of the top five worst invasive plant species in Canada due to its major ecological impact. The plant takes root and quickly reproduces, taking up space and competing for resources needed by plants natural to the area.
Other common water garden species that are considered invasive and should be avoided include Knotweed, Purple Loosestrife, Yellow Flag Iris, Parrot’s Feather, Mountain Bluet, Periwinkle, Goldfish, Red-eared Slider Turtle, and American Bullfrog.
While the spread of Flowering Rush is limited in B.C. so far, CSISS hopes the public will help them further prevent the spread by reporting any sightings and ensuring they are not bought by accident from garden stores.
Following the Invasive Species Council of BC’s popular PlantWise and Don’t Let It Loose programs, CSISS urges the public to garden using only non-invasive species to prevent the spread of unwanted and invasive plants and animals into the environment. The public can access resources and information by visiting CSISS’s website at www.columbiashuswapinvasives.org.