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Grow with KARE: Aggressive versus invasive

It’s always good to do a bit of research before you plant, or before you pull!

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — There’s a lot of chatter about invasive plants that gardeners often regret planting. But in fact many of them are not invasive at all.

There’s a difference between invasive and aggressive.

The term invasive is reserved for non-natives, or plants that have been introduced to a landscape but wouldn’t occur their naturally. Many of them at one time or another were even sold in garden centers. These plants spread rapidly and out-compete the native ones to take over and can destroy the landscape. Sometimes they're very pretty flowers, but you don’t want them in your space.

Examples of "invasives" here in Minnesota are buckthorn Siberian squill, creeping Charlie, Queen Anne’s lace and even the popular burning bush!

Aggressive plants, on the other hand can be native. They are rapid spreaders too but do provide benefits to the landscape and wildlife. Some examples of native but aggressive perennials in Minnesota are obedient plant, may apple, ostrich ferns and white snake root. Canadian anemone, wild ginger, foam flower and Virginia creeper are a few more examples. In the right location, these "aggressives" can provide beneficial ground cover. But they might not be welcome in a tidy, formal garden setting.

It’s always good to do a bit of research before you plant, or before you pull! 

Here's more on the topic from the University of Minnesota Extension.

The full list of invasive according the the Minnesota DNR can be found here.

And a great blog post on aggressive natives, here