Invasive Plants in Northern Virginia, with Tried and True Natives You Can Use Instead
Grasses & Sedges | Ground Covers | Perennials | Shrubs | Trees | Vines
Some popular, even beloved, plants in Northern Virginia are not as benign as they may appear. Because of their rampant growth habits, plants such as honeysuckle, butterfly bush, periwinkle, and rose of Sharon have become invasive, spreading from backyard plantings to roadsides, streams, fields, and forests where they displace native species, alter natural plant communities, and degrade the environment.
Nearly 280 non-native invasive species have been documented within the Mid-Atlantic region. The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Virginia Native Plant Society have identified 90 invasive exotic plants that threaten natural areas in Virginia. As of March 2019, 116 of these species have been documented in the City of Alexandria. On Arlington County’s most recent list, 77 plants have been categorized as invasive, with another 32 designated as posing a threat.
Homeowners can play a role in reducing the spread of these invasive plants by identifying and removing them from their properties. They can also avoid purchasing invasive plants that are still sold by nurseries for landscape purposes.
Listed below are selected plants that have been categorized as invasive by Arlington County, the City of Alexandria, and the state of Virginia. The fact sheet for each of these plants describes problems associated with the invasive plant and suggests alternative native species that have similar characteristics and which, additionally, provide benefits for wildlife. Links on these sheets will take readers directly to fact sheets for recommended native species that are featured in our Tried and True Native Plants series. For complete lists of invasive plants and information on control methods and suggested replacements, see Learn More about Invasive Plants.