HENDERSON, Ky (WEHT) – It’s spring, and we’re all thinking about what plants to grow in our yards. However, like judging a book by its cover, don’t underestimate the problems certain beautiful plants could bring to your landscape. From invasiveness to killing off your extensive landscaping, here are five plants horticulturists warn gardeners to avoid planting this spring.

5. Burning Bush

Burning Bush – Credit: Purdue University

Do not be fooled by their glorious red foliage: horticulturists say burning bushes, although a popular landscaping shrub, are not beneficial to your garden. For one week in autumn, the bush will showcase vibrant red foliage. However, after the bush’s quick red phase, it doesn’t serve much purpose in your landscaping.

These bushes are highly invasive, producing berries and seeds for birds to eat and drop into forest areas. Burning bushes can take over forests’ understories and squeeze out precious native plants. 

In short, this bush is beautiful but chaotic.

4. English Ivy

English Ivy – Credit: Purdue University

English ivy is one of those species people fall in love with at first-sight. Unfortunately, despite its unique dark green aesthetic, English ivy is dangerously invasive. Besides its appearance, people tend to plant English ivy because of its ability to keep weeds away from other plants and its attractive ground coverage.

The downsides of English ivy include stunting plant growth, preventing wildflowers and tree seedlings from blooming, and strangling trees. 

“[English ivy] is a popular ground cover if you have a shaded garden bed,” Larry Caplan, the owner of Caplan’s Tree & Landscaping Consulting said. “If you can keep it from climbing things or escaping into the woods, it’s not that bad. But, it does get away from people.”

If you can tame the vine-beast, then maybe it will work in your favor. Otherwise, avoiding English ivy seems to be a smart move.

3. Vinca

Vinca – Credit: Rosie Lerner, Purdue University

Similar to English ivy, vinca (also known as periwinkle) is used as a ground coverage plant in shaded areas. The periwinkle flowering plants can easily flood into forests and destroy other wild species.

Horticulturists say, if you keep your vinca in a nicely-trapped landscape bed, then you won’t have to worry about the invasive species attacking other plants. Yet, it’s better to stay safe than sorry.

2. Callery Pears

Callery Pear – Credit: NC State Extension

Callery pears (also known as Bradford pears) are the prime definition of the “looks can fool you” quote. Picture it now–it’s a beautiful blue day, and you are out for a walk. Your walk soon becomes a hurried job as you desperately try to escape a pathway full of Callery pears.

Here’s three words to describe Callery pears: Stink. Stank. Stunk.

Callery pears, even though people are attracted by their angelic white blooms in the spring, omit a foul odor no one can stand. Callery pears also feature poor branch structure, making them incredibly weak to storms (and, if there’s one word to describe Spring, it’s storms). 

“They also are very invasive,” Caplan described. “The birds eat the berries and then drop the seeds along highways and wooded areas. In the early Spring–if you drive on any of our county or state highways–all those white blooming trees are Callery pears.”

These smelly trees are invasive–and they show no mercy.

Honorable mentions

Before revealing number one on the do-not-plant list, here are two other plants to be mindful of:

Mint – Yes, it’s a sweet herb and especially delicious as an ice cream topping–alas, this plant spreads like no other. Caplan suggests keeping mint in an enclosed area, like a pot or a tight-stone plot in your landscaping. If you don’t, then the bulk of your gardening days will be spent ripping out mint from every crevice of your garden.

Dame’s rocket – Caplan says you need to be extra careful when purchasing wild meddle mixtures because of the slight chance of bringing dame’s rocket home. Dame’s rocket is pretty, but it’s also aggressive. These sweet-looking plants will take over your garden and attack your landscaping. To put it bluntly, it’s best to just avoid this plant.

1. Barberry

Barberry – Credit: Purdue University

Not even pesky wildlife animals like these shrubs! Barberries are popular because of their attractive foliage. Even so, these shrubs are thorny and pointy. When birds spread these seeds, the barberries will grow into massive thorny messes.

If you’re depending on deer or rabbits to eat these annoying shrubs away, then you’re out of luck. Caplan explains wildlife are not fans of eating off of barberries due to their thorny structures. So, what will wildlife eat instead? Oh, of course: your other plants!

All of these plants have their unique, alluring features. Yet, when you compare the positives to the negatives, none of these invasive species are really worth it. 

Happy planting!

If you need help with identifying invasive species and getting them under control, you can contact Larry Caplan for landscaping assistance.