Home Life & Style Four ‘beautiful’ but ‘uncontrollable’ invasive plants which can destroy your garden

Four ‘beautiful’ but ‘uncontrollable’ invasive plants which can destroy your garden


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Invasive plants are not just a irritating nuisance for gardeners but you could be breaking the law if you are growing any in your garden. 

These plants tend to be incredibly difficult to control and do not have to be weeds, as many non-native invasive plants can be beautiful flowers which can mean many gardeners may not know what they have growing in their garden.

If invasive plants escape a garden it can have a significant impact on the local environment or wildlife, and gardeners can face penalties under the law if they are found to have been intentionally growing them or allowing them to spread. 

David Domoney, a master horticulturist and celebrity gardener from Love Your Garden, has shared a list of some invasive plant species gardens need to watch out for. 

He said: “By keeping an eye out for the following plants that are commonly found in the UK and getting a hold of them early, it reduces the risk of them damaging your glorious garden.” 

Invasive plants gardeners need to know about 

Japanese Knotweed

Picture of japanese Knotweed

Japanese knotweed is known for its strong roots which are difficult to get rid of (Image: Getty)

Japanese knotweed is an invasive plant with bamboo-like stems and in late summer can produce white flowers. 

David said: “They are fast-growing weeds with tall, dense bamboo-like stems that produce leaves that are shovel-shaped and can grow up to 14 centimetres in length. 

“This invasive plant has an extensive and strong root system, which is how the plant spreads as they don’t produce seeds.”

It can be incredibly difficult to do but the most effective way to get rid of Japanese knotweed is simply by digging it out, but it is important to get rid of the roots entirely as even a small amount left will quickly grow into a new plant. 

READ MORE: When to water plants – the 5 rules of watering plants

Rhododendron ponticum

Picture of rhododendron ponticum

Rhododendron ponticum may look pretty but can destroy a local ecosystem (Image: Getty)

Rhododendron ponticum can look like an evergreen shrub or small tree that produces pink, purple or sometimes white funnel-shaped flowers with dark leathery green leaves. 

What is dangerous about this plant is that it is known to out-compete native plants that wildlife need to eat to survive leading to starvation. 

David said: “The beautiful mauve, funnel-shaped flowers may look pretty, but they have an adverse impact on wildlife. It was found that the number of earthworms, birds and plants in the area was lower as a result of the presence of this intrusive shrub.”

It is not advised to simply remove the shoots without applying a herbicide first as it can cause the plant to grow at a faster rate and quickly become uncontrollable. 

David said; “An effective method of control is to inject the stems with herbicide to keep it under control as it is a precise and direct measure. However, it is a challenging process so professional help is advised.” 

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Himalayan balsam

Picture of himalayan balsam

Himalayan balsam is dangerous due to how rapidly it spreads its seeds (Image: Getty)

Himalayan balsam are tall plants which produce pink, purple or white trumpet-shaped flowers with a distinctive hooded shape, which some people believe resemble an old-fashioned policeman’s helmet. 

What makes Himalayan balsam such a concerning plant is that it can rapidly spread its seeds and one plant can shoot seeds up to seven metres away so it is essential to try and contain it.

David said: “These giants can grow up to two to three metres in height and between June and October produce groups of purple-pink helmet-shaped flowers which produce 800 seeds a year. 

“They are very tolerant of shady spots and can become uncontrollable very fast due to being self-seeding plants.”

The most effective way to get rid of Himalayan balsam is by digging it out before it has a chance to self-seed, either by hand as that is the best way to remove all of the roots completely. 

Giant Hogweed

Picture of giant hogweed

If you have trouble getting rid of a invasive species then it is best to contact your local garden centre for advice (Image: Getty)

Giant hogweeds are tall plants known for their towering height and giant umbrella-shaped white flowers which often form in clusters and have large lobed leaves. 

David said: “These weeds are tall with thick, bristly stems that are topped with white flowers facing upwards and can grow up to 10 feet high. Giant hogweed was first introduced to Britain and Europe from the Caucasus Mountains in the 19th Century.” 

According to David, the best way to get rid of hogweed is to suppress them by mulching your garden or simply digging them out.

David added: “But be cautious to cover your arms and legs well and wear a mask, as the sap can be harmful to your skin if it comes into contact.”

However, if this is not working he advises visiting your local garden centre to get the best advice. 

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