Landscaping, water arrangements, and gardening are among some of the most common practices where ornamental plant species are used. Whether it’s for design, texture, scent, aesthetic pleasure, or the specimen display itself, this type of cultivation, floriculture is very popular among horticulture practices. For a plant to be considered an ornamental, they may require specific work and activity by a gardener, for instance regular pruning. Many of the plants in our region that are now considered invasives were once imported for use in ornamental landscapes, and some remain popular in the nursery trade still today.
For many people a garden’s purpose begins and ends with beauty. However it’s still possible to achieve and create beautiful spaces without the detrimental side effects that ornamentals can pose on wildlife habitat, waterways, and native species. By purchasing plants at local nurseries and through landscapers that have committed to not selling high threat invasive ornamental plants, helps prevent further spread, and by using native species in your gardens helps promote a happy, healthy, and natural space where native wildlife such as birds and bugs can thrive. These high threat species include plants on the region’s Top 20 list, as well as early detection species which can be found on the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network (MISIN).
A list of invasive ornamental species can be found here: http://habitatmatters.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Invasive-Ornamental-Plants-GBB-update.pdf. However don’t fret! This list can look intimidating and long, although only a small-fraction of all imported non-native plants have become invasive. If you’re heading to a nursey this is great tool to take with you when deciding on species and if you’re looking for native alternatives check out: http://habitatmatters.org/wpcontent/uploads/2013/04/GTCD_7x5_InvasSpecBro_final.pdf for a great list of detailed options.
By choosing to stick with native plant species, you’re helping promote Michigan’s natural wildlife and securing habitats that can be used by multiple species. Keeping Michigan free of invasive species is a top priority, whereas in the past, gardeners and the like were unaware of the impact that invasives can cause, but today we have the opportunity to make informed decisions about what we plant! So to the Green Thumbs out there, let’s keep Michigan native, happy, and healthy!
This article is part of the ongoing series on invasive species funded in part with funds from the Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program through the Departments of Natural Resources, Environmental Quality, and Agriculture and Rural Development