Invasive plants can be a gardener’s and landscaper’s worst nightmare. These plants can quickly destroy and overrun a perfectly planned landscape design, as they overtake your existing non-invasive and native Florida plants. If you’ve unknowingly planted an invasive plant species into your yard and are now reaping the consequences, know that there is still hope! The same is true for invasive plants that have mysteriously made themselves at home in your lawn.
In our latest landscaping blog, we’re taking a closer look at why invasive plants are such a problem, which invasive species are the most common in Central Florida, and how to remove invasive plants from your lawn and garden.
Lovely to Look At, but Bad for the Ecosystem
How can you know which invasive plants to avoid adding to your garden? After all, many of them are lovely to look at. You truly won’t know until you do your research! This is because many invasive species are still frequently sold in the garden sections of your local stores, and, even more frequently, these plants are not given any label indicating their invasive nature.
So, just how bad can the damage caused by invasive plants be? For native plants and wildlife, invasive species devastate the ecosystem by depriving non-invasive species the natural food and shelter they need to survive. And, as the name implies, invasive species don’t have natural predators or competition when planted in non-native environments. This means they can spread rapidly before human intervention can take them out.
The first step to avoiding invasive plants is to research which plants you should and shouldn’t be choosing for your landscaping. We recommend using the University of Florida IFAS Assessment of Non-Native Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas as your go-to source for information, both for individual plants and for the overall regions of Central, North and South Florida.
Spotted a strange plant in your lawn or garden that looks unusual, but aren’t sure what it even is or if it’s invasive? Contact your local UF/IFAS Extension office for an expert opinion!
Central Florida’s Most Common Invasive Species — Plus a Few Words About Kudzu
Did you know that approximately one in every seven new plant and animal species introduced into the United States becomes invasive? What’s more, over 50,000 total new plant and animal species have been established in the U.S. in just the past 100 years alone. That’s far more than the average home-grown gardener can keep up with! To help you get started learning about invasive plants to look out for in Florida, we’ve gathered these lists below.
Common invasive ornamentals as listed by the University of Florida Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences include:
- Australian umbrella tree, octopus tree, Queensland umbrella tree (Schefflera actinophylla)
- Beach naupaka, half-flower, scaevola (Scaevola taccada var. sericea)
- Camphor tree (Cinnamomum camphora)
- Chinese privet (Ligustrum sinense)
- Chinese tallow tree, popcorn tree (Triadica sebifera, syn. Sapium sebiferum)
- Chinese wisteria (Wisteria sinensis)
- Christmas senna, Christmas cassia, climbing cassia (Senna pendula var. glabrata)
- Coral ardisia (Ardisia crenata)
- Elephant ear, wild taro (Colocasia esculenta)
- Gold coast jasmine (Jasminum dichotomum)
- Jambolan, Java plum (Syzygium cumini)
- Japanese bishopwood (Bischofia javanica)
- Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica)
- Lantana, shrub verbena (Lantana camara)
- Melaleuca, paper bark, punk tree (Melaleuca quinquenervia)
- Mexican petunia (Ruellia simplex)
- Mimosa, silk tree (Albizia julibrissin)
- Mountain ebony, orchid tree (Bauhinia variegata)
- Nandina, heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica)
- Sea hibiscus, mahoe (Talipariti tiliaceum)
- Strawberry guava (Psidium cattleianum)
- Surinam cherry (Eugenia uniflora)
- Wedelia (Sphagneticola trilobata)
Honorable mentions also causing major problems in Florida include:
- Skunk vine (Paederia foetida)
- Brazilian pepper trees (Schinus terebinthifolius)
- Australian pine (several species from the genus Casuarina)
- Old World climbing fern (Lygodium microphyllum)
- Water hyacinth (Eichornia crassipes)
- Rosary pea (Abrus precatorius)
We’d like to take the time to give a few dedicated words about kudzu (Pueraria montana), a particularly invasive vine now found throughout the Southern U.S. Kudzu has been an invasive plant since its introduction to America in the 19th century, originating in East Asia. You can easily identify kudzu by its dark brown, rope-looking stems that appear “hairy” and its tuberous roots. While it was initially used as an ornamental and even to prevent erosion, it quickly began overtaking entire groups of trees at a time. Kudzu is able to smother trees and everything it grows over, preventing regrowth of any native plant species, and thus also preventing natural wildlife from returning to their natural habitats.
So, how do you get rid of and prevent kudzu and these other invasive plants from spreading? Well, that leads us to our next point!
How to Remove Invasive Plants
Because invasive species do not have natural predators or competition, they won’t go away on their own. Methods for removing invasive plants include pulling out the entire plant (mechanical control) or chemical control. Of course, it is better to attempt manually pulling invasive plants before using chemical methods in order to protect the environment and other plants you do not wish to harm. In a few cases of ground-cover species, you may be able to let the sun scorch them out without needing to pull them out first.
Chemical control can not only be a hazard to the environment, but also to yourself and other people. Therefore, it’s crucial to properly research when you should actually use herbicides, which herbicides are appropriate to use, and how to properly use and dispose of them. It is actually required by law that citizens must read and follow all label instructions for herbicides and pesticides. The Florida Homeowner Herbicide Guide from the UF/IFAS is a great resource for familiarizing yourself with best practices for using herbicides.
The best and safest way to properly remove invasive plants once and for all is to let a professional lawn service and landscaping company take care of it for you. Trained lawn care professionals know how to remove invasive plants, weeds and other pests without putting your lawn, yourself or others at risk. Curious what else the pros can do for you? Read our previous blog post — “Why Do You Need a Lawn Service Company for Your Home?” — to learn more!
The Best Orlando Lawn Care and Landscaping
Daniel’s Lawn Service & Pressure Washing has been serving Orlando and Central Florida with professional lawn care and landscaping services for years. We are true locals with a passion for keeping your lawn and landscape design beautiful and healthy year-round. If you need invasive plant removal, give us a call today! We also offer a variety of other services, including general lawn maintenance, pressure washing, tree services, landscape design and land clearing.
Let us help turn your lawn into a paradise full of beautiful Florida plants!