avoid invasive plants garden patio with dining set and Oakleaf Hydrangea
Photo: Manuela Goehner/GAP Photos

Alternatives to Attractive Invasives

Not all popular plants deserve their good reputations. Take burning bush, for instance. Its scarlet fall foliage has charmed gardeners for generations. But this old favorite has a dark secret: It spreads like wildfire. And while most prolific plants can be kept in check with regular pruning, burning bush belongs to a whole gang of common shrubs that seem set on world domination.

These garden thugs are known as "invasive," a term reserved for any non-native plant that escapes the confines of beds and borders, muscles its way into local ecosystems, crowds out native plants, and, in turn, destroys natural wildlife habitats. Many of these troublemakers are still widely sold at local and mail-order nurseries, but just because you can buy a plant doesn't mean you should. The challenge is to find well-mannered alternatives that are equally ornamental. The following plant suggestions put that quandary to rest for seven of the nation's most noxious shrubs. And now's a great time to make the swap: Shrubs planted in fall's cooler temperatures have a stress-free stretch of weeks to put down roots in preparation for a surge of growth come spring.

Also be sure to read how to ditch invasive plants in your garden for good.
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