Problem Plants and Better Alternatives

Problem Plants in Our Area, with Tried and True Natives You Can Use Instead 

English ivy (Hedera helix)

Hedera helix (English ivy )

What makes a plant a problem? Some popular, even beloved, plants in Northern Virginia are not as benign as they may appear, like honeysuckle and the Norway Maple tree. Because of their widespread use or their rampant growth habits, they can crowd out other, more beneficial plants. Some have become invasive, spreading to roadsides, streams, fields, and forests where they displace native habitat.

Listed below are selected plants that have been categorized as problematic by Arlington County, Alexandria City, and the state of Virginia. The fact sheet for each of these plants describes the problems and suggests native alternatives that have similar characteristics while providing benefits for wildlife.

Problem Plant: Fountain Grass with flowers Photo © Elaine Mills

Problem Plant: Fountain Grass with flowers
Photo © Elaine Mills

 Grasses

 Ground Covers

Perennials

Problem Plant: Nandina in local nursery Photo © Elaine Mills

Problem Plant: Nandina in local nursery
Photo © Elaine Mills

Shrubs

Trees

Vines

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

Problem Plant: Japanese honeysuckle
Photo © Elaine Mills

More resources for Mid-Atlantic gardeners: