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

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“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.

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

Additional Photos Below

TOM'S TIP

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

tatwell@pressherald.com

 

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Additional Photos

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

Courtesy photo

  


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