A national trade body is marking Invasive Species Week with an appeal to gardeners and householders to play their part in stemming non-native weeds.

Dr Peter Fitzsimons, technical manager at the Property Care Association Invasive Weed Control Group, has produced five top tips on how to help tackle the spread of non-native plants in the UK.

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

“They have thrived in the wild and many such plants threaten our ecosystems and give cause for concern.

“The Association’s Invasive Weed Control Group is at the front line in combating invasive weeds in the UK and Ireland and its members recognise that prevention is a whole lot better than the large-scale effort needed to keep non-native plants under control.

“Management is key to controlling their spread and householders, gardeners and other horticulturists can make a valuable contribution towards this.”

Smallholder:

Japanese Rose is listed as ‘Invasive Species’ under Schedule 9 of The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981

Dr Fitzsimon's top tips

1. Know your plants. Many plants available in garden centres and nurseries are listed as ‘Invasive Species’ under Schedule 9 of The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. This doesn’t make it illegal to have them in your garden but it does mean you should prevent them spreading to ‘the wild’. It includes commonly found plants like Monbretia and Japanese Rose.

2. Plant wisely. Many of today’s invasive species, including some bamboos and Giant Rhubarb, are garden ornamentals ‘gone wild’, so a bit of research before choosing what to plant and where to plant it is a good idea. For example, a ‘running’ bamboo species ought only be planted well away from a neighbouring property and, preferably, in raised beds with a robust root barrier or large containers on a hard standing to stop it going where it’s not wanted.

3. Manage what you plant. Some popular plants spread rapidly via underground rhizomes or bulbils so once they are planted you’ll need to keep them in check to stop them ‘taking over’ plus you need to make sure they don’t spread to your neighbour’s garden. In the case of Japanese knotweed there is separate legislation relating to the potential nuisance which may be caused by ‘escaping’ plants and this has resulted in prosecutions.

4. Check your soil after digging. When you are digging-over flower beds containing invasive plants like Variegated Yellow Archangel or Few-flowered Leek don’t put the soil in your green bin or compost heap until you have carefully removed the propagules (the parts of plants which give rise to new plants), otherwise you could be unwittingly spreading a regulated species.

5. Be water aware. Some of the greatest ‘invasive’ problems are caused by the spread of aquatic plants in the wild. Once established in rivers and canals for example they are very difficult to control/remove. If you have a pond you may have species like Curly Waterweed or New Zealand Pygmyweed as these are often bought as fast-growing ‘oxygenators.’

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