These days invasive species are among the hot topics with homeowners and landscapers. Would you please lend me your ear for a moment? Invasive species can be defined as an organism (plant, animal, fungus, or bacterium) that is not native and has negative effects on our environment, economy, or our health. You are still asking what’s the big deal? Ok, listen to me! Non-native invasive plants decrease biological diversity, disrupt ecological balance and suffocate plants favored by wildlife. In addition, they introduce exotic pests and diseases, inhibit growth of timber, increase wildlife hazard and land management cost. Non-native and invasive plants pose serious problems and health threats to our native plants. Just imagine how easy it is for these invading plants to quickly take over our forestland. In Florida, our warm climate promotes the establishment of these plants and their fast growth. Many invasive species are extremely tolerant of poor soil conditions and can even grow in cement cracks. In addition, our winter is not cold enough to kill these culprit, although they may experience die back from brief low temperature they quickly bounce back in the spring. How can we forget that non-native invasive plants use hurricanes and tropical storms to the advantage? Their seeds and pods are easily spread during hurricanes and storms which make them hard to control
Oh! No, I was thinking too deep and almost forget that human being is also responsible for the spreading of non-native invasive plants. There are many who use looks as the only factor to select plants and take no other factors into consideration. In addition, folks visited other states and took back plant materials with them which may be accompanied by insects and diseases. Please bear in mind that animals, such as birds, also help to disperse invasive seeds by eating them and passing out seeds in their droppings.
It is everyone’s responsibility to protect our environment and native plants by educating ourselves on the negative effects of invasive plants. I am not saying that non-native does not have its place in the landscape. We know for sure that non-native plants use more resources than native plants. Non-native invasive is really a big problem; always remember that invasive is always about taking over the landscape. Quiz- did you know that I am not native to this area? The good thing is that I am here to contribute and not to take over. Next time you go shopping, choose your plant wisely. By the way, this weekend will be great, why not start pulling some of those invasive plants?
Bye, until next time! For more information on horticulture, contact Grantly Ricketts at UF/IFAS Extension in Osceola County at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone 321-697-3000.