To Save Native Plants: First… Remove Invasive Species
Invasive plants are a significant problem in New York State, especially on Long Island. An invasive species is a plant or animal that is not native to an ecosystem — having great potential to cause harm to it.
Most Long Island soils harbor viable invasive seeds from their arrival via wind, birds, or mammals years to decades ago. Under the right conditions — exposure to sunlight being one — these seeds (herbs , shrubs, trees, or ivy) will quickly germinate and grow — typically on bare ground — to out-compete native plant species. (It’s extremely important to cover disturbed ground with native plants, or leaf mulch held in place with twigs and small branches).
Why care? Long Island’s landscapes are changing as invasive plants out-compete native species. And when native plants disappear or are replaced by alien exotics, many food sources and habitats for beneficial pollinators, birds and other animals are lost. In parts of the world native habitat destruction has been so extensive that local wildlife populations may well be headed toward extinction. Since native plants form the base for the local food chain and the backbone of our ecosystems, their loss affects the quality of life for us all.
What is Go Native Long Island? This Long Island group of native plant lovers has embarked on an educational awareness endeavor to bring public attention to common invasive plants. This effort is designed to limit native species’ decline and loss due to invasive, non-native species incursion. Through its archived contributed posts, GoNativeLI.com describes methods that successfully replace invasives with care-free and beneficial native species for home landscapes and local parks. Once established some native plants, Mayapple for instance, will shade out invasive weeds.
How do we begin? To successfully control an undesirable plant, learn how it grows and reproduces. For instance, mowing or cutting back at the wrong time of year may be wasted effort and expense. Attack it when it is most vulnerable. The Gallery of Invasives pages on this blog address many of the common invasive woody vines, trees, and herbaceous plants found on Long Island, with helpful photos and information about removing them successfully.
Replace invasive species with native plants without using herbicides.1 Cut, pull and dig up invasive plants following recommended methods — for instance, the best time to weed is just after a drenching downpour while the ground is still damp — on our Invasives Removal pages for vines, trees, and herbaceous plants. And selectively weed out invasive plants to give natives room to grow and reproduce. Many methods require repeating the process when there is regrowth. Be patient.
Do your research using the pages and posts found here along with the suggested links in the right hand column, and make an effort to keep your garden chemical-free and healthy! Finally, we invite you to share your tried and true experiences with us on this blog. Send your comments here.
1 Studies have linked herbicides to human illnesses; may be harmful to beneficial insects; and can pollute groundwater as well as disrupt the natural balance of microbes needed for healthy soils.
Follow us on Twitter @GoNativeLI