Invasive Plants and Better Alternatives

Invasive Plants in Northern Virginia, with Tried and True Natives You Can Use Instead

English ivy (Hedera helix)

Hedera helix (English ivy )

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.

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 the problems they pose and suggests native alternatives that have similar characteristics while providing benefits for wildlife.


 Grasses

Problem Plant: Fountain Grass with flowers Photo © Elaine Mills

Invasive Plant: Fountain Grass with flowers
Photo © Elaine Mills

 Ground Covers

Perennials

Problem Plant: Nandina in local nursery Photo © Elaine Mills

Invasive  Plant: Nandina in local nursery
Photo © Elaine Mills

Shrubs

Trees

Lonicera japonica (Japanese honeysuckle) near Washington Boulevard, Arlington, Virginia. Photo © 2016 Elaine L. Mills

Invasive Plant: Japanese honeysuckle
Photo © Elaine Mills

Vines


More resources for Mid-Atlantic gardeners: