Invasive plants harm pollinators by displacing the native plants that pollinators need for food or shelter. The US Department of Agriculture defines an invasive plant as a plant that is non-native to the ecosystem under consideration; and whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.
Why do some non-native plants become invasive? In their native environment, there are insects and other predators that limit their growth and spread. However, when these plants are introduced to our area, the insects and predators that limited their growth are missing. As a result, these non-native plants can rapidly grow and spread. Our native plants exist in balance with insects and other predators. They cannot compete with the rapid growth and spread of invasive plant species and are displaced by them.
Sometimes the damage caused by invasive plants is immediately apparent in our gardens when plants such as Garlic Mustard or Swallow-wort overwhelm a flower bed. Other invasive plants, such as Burning Bush or Japanese Barberry, may appear harmless in our garden. However, the seeds from these plants are carried by birds or other animals to parks, forests and other natural areas. The plants that sprout from these seeds cause major disruption to pollinator habitat in those areas.
The NY Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) maintains a list of invasive plants. Introduction of new invasive plants is not permitted in certified pollinator-friendly gardens. Removal of existing invasive plants is not required for certification of a pollinator-friendly garden. However, we recommend removing invasive plants and can provide advice on the best methods for any that are present in a garden. Cornell Cooperative Extension offers recommended alternatives for invasive ornamental plants.
In addition to the plants on the NY DEC list, there are eight other non-native plants that are not recommended due to their aggressive growth. In many cases, these plants are considered invasive by other northeastern states.
Removal of these plants is not required for certification of a pollinator-friendly garden. However, we recommend removing these plants and can provide advice on the best methods for any that are present in a garden.
Last updated May 10, 2021