January 23, 2011

Maine Gardener: Repel the invaders! (Don't worry, it's a lot easier than you think)

By Tom Atwell tatwell@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

“Rudy Haag” dwarf burning bush can stand in for the invasive burning bush – you will still get colorful foliage in fall, but it is unlikely to muscle out or harm native plants.

click image to enlarge

Wisteria “Amethyst Falls” is a suitable replacement for the invasive Oriental bittersweet.

Additional Photos Below


IF YOU ARE going to be ordering seeds online, check your catalogs to see if you get a discount for ordering early. It saves money for you and is more convenient for the companies you are ordering from.

O'Donal thinks Crimson King, a red-leafed cultivar of the Norway maple, is not invasive. He said Crimson King will produce seedlings, but that they are of another, less hardy red-leafed cultivar that will not survive in Maine.

Alternatives for Norway maple include a variety of red maples, sugar maples and even a horse chestnut and a sweet birch, which have similar shapes to the Norway maple.

Barberries have been invasive in Maine -- so much so that in some places in York County, you need leather chaps so your legs won't get scratched raw by the thorns. Alternatives include a variety of spireas, weigelas and a dwarf physocarpus called "Little Devil."

There is no question that Oriental bittersweet is invasive, and when you order American bittersweet, O'Donal said, you often end up getting Oriental. Alternatives include several climbing hydrangeas and American wisteria, including "Nivea" and "Amethyst Falls." Both alternatives take a while to produce blooms, but they are well worth the wait.

For autumn olive, many of the viburnums serve as alternatives -- again with beautiful blooms as an addition. For honeysuckles, the alternatives are winterberry and physocarpus. And for buckthorn, the alternatives are elderberry, serviceberry and viburnum.

Keep this information in mind as you think about your garden this winter and early spring. It may be time to pull out or cut down a potentially invasive plant in your garden and replace it with a superior plant.

Tom Atwell can be contacted at 791-6362 or at



Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors

Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

Climbing hydrangea is a good, attractive alternative to invasive Oriental bittersweet.

Courtesy photo


Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)