According to seasoned locals, the best time to start planting outside in Golden is when the 7 on Mount 7 is visible after the first first full moon of May, and preferably after May Long Weekend. At the time of writing, bulbs are starting to emerge, lilac buds are swelling bigger each day and front yards have garden boxes popping up like mushrooms. Colourful and uplifting hearts taped to windows are greeted with the unfurling of spring flowers inspiring cheer and encouragement.
While we are busy preparing our gardens and picking out which plants to liven our green spaces with, it is important to make sure we know what we grow; after all, there is no law in BC regulating the sale of noxious invasive plants. It’s left to you, the consumer, to educate yourself about invasive plants. Invasive plants are often as attractive as non-invasive plants which makes them hard to pass up, but we hope that by understanding the benefits of planting native or non-invasive species in your garden, and knowing the impacts that invasive species have on the environment, economy and social aspects of our lives, it will help you decide which plants you will dedicate your time to.
Invasive species are the second biggest threat to biodiversity globally, altering habitats and disrupting essential ecosystem functions. Invasive plants specifically displace native vegetation through competition for water, nutrients, and space. Once established, invasive plants can reduce soil productivity and can result in loss of traditional food and medicinal plants, reduced land and water recreational opportunities. In addition to impacts on environmental and social structures, invasive plants can impact forestry and agriculture operations by competing with seedlings for light, nutrients, and water.
Many areas have problems with invasive plants ‘escaping’ from home gardens. Here are some things you can do to help:
Grow native or non-invasive alternatives
Ask your local nursery about non-invasive plant alternatives. Native plants often have similar characteristics as invasives, but without the damaging ecological side effects.
Share with care
Many invasive plants spread because they are attractive garden plants and people want to share their beauty. Do not share cuttings, seedlings, or plants that are invasive with friends or neighbours.
Dispose, do not compost
Never compost invasive plant material; plants can resprout from seeds, fruits, or cuttings even in the most undesirable locations. Consider removing invasive plants before they produce fruits or seeds. Always bag and dispose of invasive plants in the garbage. The CSRD will waive the tipping fee on invasive plants, but they must be double bagged. Avoid dumping garden waste and trimmings into other green spaces as they can choke, smother and harm local areas.
Buy soil or mulch from a reputable source
Some invasive plants are introduced because they were contaminated in fill, soil, and mulch mixes. Purchase from reputable manufacturers that guarantee the purity or offer weed-free content – if that’s not available, physically inspect where your product comes from before you buy it.
Use caution with wildflower mixes
Wildflower seed mixes can disguise invasive plants. Read the species on the package and compare it with resources that identify invasive plants in your area. Be particularly cautious if the species are not named on the package.
Control what you don’t know
Deadhead flowers, seed pods and berries of unknown plants or known invasive plants to help prevent their spread. Replace fast-spreading invaders, cut back and use containers to control creeping plants that are prone to taking over.
Get involved with efforts to help control invasive plants
Wildsight Golden’s Community Invasive Plant Program starts up May 19th – keep following for more information and to find out how you can get involved! https://wildsight.ca/branches/golden/invasive-weeds-community-program/
Ask your local plant sellers to join the PlantWise Program.
The Invasive Species Council of BC (ISCBC) is one of many organizations committed to reducing the spread and impacts of non-native species within BC. Part of this effort includes their PlantWise program which works across BC to support the ornamental horticulture industry to help gardeners and industry understand which plants are invasive and to make “PlantWise” choices. The “Grow Me Instead” booklet provided by the PlantWise program is an excellent resource for gardeners to identify invasive plants throughout the province and provide native alternatives to grow instead. You can download the mobile ‘PlantWise’ app for Android here and for Apple users here.
Written by Tesia Hackett and Jessie Paloposki
Photos by Tesia Hackett