Conservation at Home – Invasive Plants

There are many things you can do at home to help native habitats, and one of the most impactful things you can do is remove any invasive plants that might be lurking in your yard. With their prolific seeding, plants like Bush Honeysuckle can spread to your neighbor’s yards, nearby parks and open spaces, and even our region’s stream banks. But not if you stop them before they have the chance!

Invasive plants are one of the greatest threats to our region’s biodiversity. These plants tend to be prolific seeders, and can quickly overtake woodlands, grasslands and streambanks. They are harmful to the environment, human health and can have devastating economic impacts as well.

Identifying Invasive Plants

While there are dozens of invasive plant species within the St. Louis region, two in particular can create major headaches for homeowners – Bush Honeysuckle and Bradford Pear. In the videos below, Tom Schweiss, Conservation Manager for Great Rivers Greenway, provides an introduction to these nuisance plants and tips for identifying them.

Bush Honeysuckle

Bradford Pear

Controlling Invasive Plants

Exact strategies for the removal of invasive plants can vary, depending on the variety of plant and your personal preferences. In general, we recommend a four-step process for invasive plant mitigation:

Identification: If you have a plant in your yard that leafs out early and holds onto its leaves much later than surrounding plants, there is a good chance that the plant in question is an invasive. There also a variety of online resources for identifying plant species (see below) and apps like PlantNet and iNaturalist can also help determine whether plants are invasive.

Removal: Depending on the invasive species in question, there are a variety of ways to remove invasive plants including manual, mechanical, organic and chemical methods. Learn more about the options in the links below to determine which course of action is best for your situation.

Replacement with Native Plants: By replacing non-native invasive plants with species that are native to our region, you can help increase biodiversity and provide a valuable resource to native insects, birds and wildlife.

Ongoing Maintenance: Because invasive plants are such prolific seeders, there will likely be many seeds left behind within your yard. It may take several years of vigilance and maintenance to get them fully in check. Treat or remove these sprouts as soon as you can to deny them the opportunity to grow into mature plants, capable of spreading more seed in the surrounding area.

The resources below will help you identify and remove these pesky invaders!