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Buyer Beware: 3 Exotic Plants to Avoid

“Exotic” sounds so fancy, right? But when it comes to plants, exotic is not always a good thing. Some exotic plants can spread like crazy, harbor insects and disease and threaten our local eco-system.

Here are three plants – either from neighboring states or other countries – to avoid planting in our area.

1. Burning Bush (pictured)

The burning bush is a very popular exotic plant. It’s even common at local nurseries. But buyer beware: this exotic plant can wreak havoc choking out its native counterparts in our local forest and wood lines. Burning bush lives up to its name – it spreads like wild fire by seed and naturalizing. Think of it as you do honeysuckle and avoid planting.

2. Bamboo:

While this plant has the potential to make an incredible privacy screen, it can be very difficult to tame once it gets going. Plus, it can also harm our local eco-system. If you are wanting something similar, look for American cane. This native cane provides the same effect, but without the ecological cost. Like bamboo, it can be difficult to control, but at least it’s native.

3. English Ivy

Consider other ivy before choosing this invasive variety. As an aggressive creeper, climber and seed setter, it can overtake an area quickly, destroying wood, brick and other plants in its path. It can also harbor insects and disease. So do us all a favor: say no to English ivy. If you already have it but don’t want to eradicate it, please maintain it. Keep it contained in your space and prevent it from climbing.

- Craig Grabow is the manager and staff horticulturist/arborist at Central Lawn Care. He is the treasurer of the Kentucky Arborist Association and president of the Fort Mitchell Tree Board. He graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in plant and soil science.