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Invasive Plant to Avoid: Japanese Spurge

This week is National Invasive Species Awareness Week. Herring Run Nursery will be focusing each day on one invasive plant and a native alternative.

Don’t Plant: Japanese Spurge

Brought from Eastern Asia as an ornamental ground-cover, Japanese Spurge (Pachysandra) is an aggressively spreading evergreen.  Japanese Spurge is still widely used in landscaping today.  However, Japanese Spurge spreads quickly — displacing native vegetation in forests and meadow edges, creating a mono-culture with little value to wildlife.

Native Alternatives: Pussytoes and Sedges

Our advice to gardeners is usually to avoid using a single spreading species as the groundcover. The best solution for wildlife and, frankly, the success of the garden itself is often a mix of perennials with either sedges or grasses.


Among perennials, we recommend focusing on species with dense mats of foliage such as pussytoes (Antennaria spp.). Antennaria neglectaAntennaria parlinii, and Antennaria plantaginifolia are host plants for the American painted lady butterfly as well.


Pennsylvania sedge (Carex pensylvanica) offers an alternative for shadier spots. This short grass-like plant offers high value to wildlife, and spreads by both runners and seeds. Often used as a native alternative to lawn, sedges are also very effective at filling in the gaps between other shade-loving perennials.

We carry both of these native plants at Herring Run Nursery.  The Nursery will open for the Spring season on March 22nd, with weekend sales beginning on April 1st.


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