7 Invasive Plants and Good Alternative Options

Why choose an invasive plant? Consider a native alternative instead.
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©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: Image courtesy of Bruce Leander for Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

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©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Invasive: Chocolate Vine

This large, twining, woody climber has spice-scented, cocoa-colored flowers which are sometimes followed by long fruits. Editor's note: Keep in mind that what is considered invasive can fluctuate wildly by region/zone. These alternatives aren't necessarily perfect or worry-free, but are other options to consider and can be better choices for the environment.

Alternative: Carolina Jessamine

This tenacious Southern climber makes quite a show on tree trunks and telephone poles, where its tough stems give it its nickname, “poor man’s rope.” Carolina jessamine smells divine, but admire it from a distance, as every part of it is highly toxic.

Invasive: Butterfly Bush

Buddleja davidii, butterfly bush, is deciduous evergreen shrub with weeping form. Lance shaped leaves grow on long arching stems. Tiny fragrant flowers attract butterflies. Profuse flower clusters cause branches to arch even more. While butterfly bush is an excellent choice for attracting butterflies and one of the most common plants on the market, it does spread like crazy and chokes out beneficial plants. Should you never plant it? No. Just be careful with it—or consider one of the many alternatives.

Alternative: Bottlebrush Buckeye

Native to the Southeast, Bottlebrush Buckeye features showy white and red blooms that are a natural hit with butterflies.

Invasive: English Ivy

Known to engulf entire homes, English ivy can kill trees if left unchecked.

Invasive: Privet

Yes, this invasive makes a great hedge -- if you don't mind shearing it every 48 hours! Privet reseeds like crazy.

Alternative: Florida Anise

This dependable broad-leaf evergreen shrub, native to the Southeast, Florida anise offers a lemon-lime fragrance.

Invasive: Japanese Honeysuckle

Favored for its sugary-sweet fragrance, Japanese honeysuckle is highly invasive.

Alternative: Trumpet Honeysuckle

Native to the Southeast, Trumpet honeysuckle's striking red blooms are a natural draw for butterflies and hummingbirds.

Invasive: Chinese Wisteria

Not all varieties of wisteria are invasive, but Chinese wisteria is, crowding out and killing other plants and trees and tending to flourish in just about any type of soil.

Alternative: American Wisteria

Far less aggressive is the American species, whose blooms are cone shaped and sparser than the Asian species.

Invasive: Japanese barberry

This deciduous shrub, Japanese barberry is deer resistant and drought tolerant, and known for its color variation. This shrub forms dense mounds that choke out native plants.

Alternative: Winterberry

Beautiful red berries (some varieties offer yellow ones) make winterberry a popular winter addition.