Residents advised to keep gardens in check to tackle invasive plants

A national trade body is urging householders to become aware of, and help to control, the spread of invasive plants on their doorstep.

Wednesday, 26th May 2021, 4:01 pm

Experts at the Property Care Association (PCA) say the public can help contain a range of non-native weeds and prevent their potentially damaging spread.

According to the PCA, many popular garden plants could be like Japanese knotweed – one of the UK’s most widely known invasive plants – and are already emerging, potentially providing future generations with a significant ecological, environmental and economic burden.

Members of the PCA’s invasive weed control group are at the front line supporting the identification of suspect plants, making risk assessments and delivering comprehensive strategies for their effective control and, where necessary, eradication.

Dr Peter Fitzimmons of the PCA’s invasive weed control group. Photo: Andy Doherty
Dr Peter Fitzimmons of the PCA’s invasive weed control group. Photo: Andy Doherty

To help householders, the PCA has produced a top five list of invasive plants commonly found in UK gardens:

Himalayan Balsam is common alongside rivers and rapidly displaces native flora leading to the erosion of the banks.

Japanese Rose which is similar to the native Dog Rose, but it spreads rapidly especially in heathland habitats.

Montbretia which is a plant that likes damp conditions and forms dense clumps in a range of habitats.

Buddleia, the so-called ‘butterfly bush’ but not a food plant for caterpillars so of limited ecological value which is also known for its impact on buildings and masonry.

Bamboo, especially ‘running’ bamboos which spread quickly and often out-grow the gardens they’ve been planted in and spread via rhizomes in soil and can dominate natural vegetation.

The PCA is issuing the appeal in line with Invasive Species Week, an event run by the GB non-native species secretariat, developed to put the issue in the national spotlight.

Dr Peter Fitzsimons, the technical manager of the PCA’s invasive weed control group, said: “Invasive non-native plants come in many different forms and sizes.

“Plants including Japanese rose and Montbretia might be a common sight in gardens across the country, but they are among a number of invasive non-native species, including Japanese knotweed, that ‘escape’ from gardens up and down the UK.

“All started out life as garden ornamentals but have taken off to some degree or other in to the wild.

“They need to be managed and controlled to minimise their potential negative impacts on natural ecosystems.

“Invasive Species Week is a great opportunity for us to raise awareness of the issue and keep it in the minds of the public.”

A spokesperson from the GB non-native species secretariat added: “Invasive plants can harm native plants by spreading pests and plant diseases, and competing for space, light, nutrients and water.

“This has a wider impact on other species which rely on native plants, including birds, butterflies and other insects, and could threaten the survival of rare plant species.

“Once established, invasive plants are costly to control and the damage they cause can be irreversible.

“Pond and aquarium plants can be particularly devastating if they escape into a natural waterbody.”

Gardeners can find out how to prevent plants from spreading into the wild here.

More details about the PCA’s invasive weed control group is here.