Invasive plants are non-native plants that cause ecological harm to forests, native grasslands, wetlands and waterways as well as economic damage. They can rapidly invade and overtake a site, forming dense layers that interfere with or completely displace native plants. Invasive plants alter habitats by decreasing light availability and depleting soil moisture and nutrients. Some invasive plants release chemicals into the soil that inhibit the growth of other plants.
Unfortunately, many plants that are invasive in Virginia are still sold through the nursery trade and recommended by landscapers and garden designers. These include Winged Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus), various non-native honeysuckles including Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica), Chinese Wisteria (Wisteria sinensis), Akebia (Akebia quintata), Norway Maple (Acer platanoides), Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii) and English Ivy (Hedera helix).
Plants often escape gardens when seed is carried away by birds and deer that feed on seeds and plants. Seeds can also disperse through wind and water, or by attaching to shoes and clothing, or to animals that carry seed back into forests and open space.
Controlling invasive plants is difficult once they have become established. Therefore, not using the plant, and removing highly invasive plants from gardens, are the most important steps toward control.