Plant List of Native Alternatives to Invasive Species

Editor’s note: This is the third and final installment in a series about creating a bird-friendly yard. In the two previous blog articles, Wendy Diaz, EMGV, wrote about pivotal moments in her life as a gardener: deciding to focus on native plants, and creating a plan based on plant recommendations from the National Audobon Society.

My plan to create a bird-friendly yard will be accomplished in two stages. Stage 1 is the removal of high-threat invasive species in the fall of this year (2018), and Stage 2 will commence in the spring of 2019 by removing non-natives that are not high threat but their native alternatives would provide more benefit for wildlife and not multiply as quickly.

My garden  plan includes the following replacements based on recommendations from the New Hope Audubon Society, NC Botanical Garden and the Going Native Website1,2,3:

 Already Removed

Invasive Plant Native Alternative Plant
Mimosa (Albizia julibrissin) Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)
Bradford pear (Pyrus calleryana) Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)
Chinese beauty berry (Callicarpa dichotoma) native beauty berry (Callicarpa  americana)
Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus umbellata) Maidenhair fern (Adiantum pedatum)
Japanese Stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum) Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium)

Stage I Removal of High Threat Invasive Species (Fall, 2018)

Invasive Plant Native Alternative Plant
Chinese wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) crossvine (Bignonia capreolata) or trumpet vine (Campsis radicanas) or Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens) and Dwarf fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenii)
Big Leaf Periwinkle (Vinca major) spotted wintergreen (Chimaphila maculata), Frogfruit (Phylla nodiflora), Oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia), Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides), Common blue violet (Viola sororia), Crested dwarf iris (Iris cristata)
Heavenly bamboo (Nandina) Florida-hobblebush (Agarista populifolia),  Strawberrybush (Euonymous americanus)/ St. Andrew’s Cross (Hypericum hypericoides)
Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) coral honeysuckle (Loncicera sempervirens)/Yellow Passionflower (Passiflora lutea)
English Ivy (Hedera helix) Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)
Burning bush (Euonymus alatus) Virginia sweetspire (Itea virginica)/winterberry (Ilex verticillata) /winged sumac (Rhus copallinum)

Stage II Removal (Spring, 2019)

Non-Native Plant Native Alternative Plant
Golden Rain Tree (Koelreuteria paniculata) Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia)
Butterfly bush Coastal sweet-pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia)
Japanese privet common wax-myrtle (Morella cerifera)
Morning glory native clematis viorna (Clematis viorna)/milkvine (Matelea carolinensis)
Chinese holly Inkberry (Ilex glabra)/Eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana)/ Yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria)
Forsythia Spicebush (Lindera benzoin)/high bush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum)
Grass Rosy Sedge (Carex rosea) and Pink muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris)
Siberian Iris Scarlet rose-mallow (Hibiscus coccineus)
Liriope (Liriope muscari variegated) Bee balm (Monarda didyma)

Next time you are considering an ornamental plant to add to your landscape why not try a native plant that suits your needs and helps wildlife at the same time? At the very least, don’t plant invasive species like I did. Hopefully in time, I will attract new birds, butterflies and caterpillars. Then I will need a better camera lens to zoom in on all the new flowers and animals!

Scarlet Rose-Mallow Home garden Photo taken by Wendy Diaz July 25, 2018
Blue bird next to white oak. Home garden Photo taken by Wendy Diaz May 10, 2017



More Reading on Invasive Species: 

Click to access PlantThisNotThat.pdf

Where to buy Native Plants:


Planning a Bird-friendly Yard

Editor’s note: This is the second post in a series about bird-friendly native gardening written by Wendy Diaz, EMGV. The third and final post, a plant list, will appear next week.

After a visit to my yard by representatives from the New Hope Audubon Society, I resolved to rid my garden of invasive species. My goal is to achieve Platinum Certification and, consequently, invasive plants cannot cover more than 10% of my property; an improvement from the Gold Level I received in August. A helpful guide on how to plan and implement a more bird-friendly yard, by selecting native plants that suit your needs as well as birds, is provided by the Going Native website1. A particularly useful tool is the plant selection guide that helps you select plants that fit your gardening needs and conditions so you can make your own plant list2.  A native plant is suggested just by entering your region, light requirement, soil moisture, leaf type, wildlife value target and bloom period.

This fall, the first plant to be removed is my non-flowering Chinese wisteria that I will probably replace with Audubon’s suggestion of a crossvine or trumpet vine. The second plant that I will take on will be the Big Leaf Periwinkle (Vinca major). About 1,000 square feet of my yard, beneath my hardwoods is covered with Big Leaf Periwinkle so I plan on using several plants to replace this ground cover in the part shady area with varying degrees of soil moisture. This will also increase the diversity of plants in my yard and year-round color interest. It is relatively easy to pull the Vinca major up by the roots, although they recommended mowing it first, because of the abundance of rain this year. Although I have already removed the Mimosa and Bradford Pear trees years ago, their former presence is evident by the frequent seedlings that still germinate in my yard, so this effort of eradication will require ongoing vigilance.

Native fall colors of bright yellow Hickory Tree and orange Winged Sumac (behind deep green Magnolia).  Suggested replacements of Chinese Wisteria (circled in red) is crossvine or trumpet vine (lime green) with Fothergilla bush (light green) Photo taken by Wendy Diaz November 5, 2018
Bluebirds in bird bath of home garden surrounded by invasive species of Big Leaf Periwinkle (circled in red). Suggested replacements of Frogfruit (evergreen), Crested Dwarf iris, River oats and Oakleaf Hydrangea (green). Photo by Christopher Diaz October 17, 2018
River Oats North Carolina Botanical Garden Photo taken by Wendy Diaz October 7, 2018
Brilliant fall color of Oakleaf Hydrangea in home garden. Photo taken by Wendy Diaz December 4, 2017
Coral honeysuckle in home garden. Photo taken by Wendy Diaz April 23, 2018


Hearts a Bustin’/Strawberry Bush, North Carolina Botanical Garden. Photo taken by Wendy Diaz October 7, 2018

Planting of the alternative native plants will occur gradually over time as I source the plants from area nurseries, optimize my budget and observe the plants’ performance ornamentally and ecologically. I already have some of the native plants and I will encourage them to spread and may propagate them.




More Reading on Invasive Species:

Where to buy Native Plants:


Learn With Us, week of January 17

Native Plants for Your Gardens – Durham Garden Forum
Tuesday, Jan 19, 2016 6:30pm – 8:00pm
Where: Sarah P. Duke Gardens, 420 Anderson Street, Durham, NC

Beyond hardiness & seasonal color, native plants work with the insects, birds, amphibians & mammals to make a healthy environment. Add some native to your garden with information from this presentation. Presented by Charlotte Glen, Extension Agent, Agriculture-Horticulture, Chatham County.
$10.00 fee per class or annual membership fee.
No pre-registration necessary.

Tree Care 101 Workshop
Saturday, January 23, 2016, from 9:30 a.m. to noon
Northgate Park, 300 W. Club Blvd.

Trees Across Durham is hosting a free tree care workshop to provide volunteers with hands-on experience while planting and tending to the trees along the Ellerbe Creek Stream Restoration Project, which runs through Northgate Park.

Participants will learn about tree planting, pruning, and other tree care topics. They will also discover the critical role played by trees and forests for stream health and water quality. Tools and gloves for the workshop will be provided, but participants are encouraged to bring their own if possible. Participants should also dress appropriately for the weather and bring water to drink.
Workshop partners include Keep Durham Beautiful, City of Durham General Services Department Urban Forestry Division, Durham City-County Sustainability Office, City of
Durham Public Works Department Stormwater & GIS Services Division, and the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality Division of Mitigation Services.

For additional information or to register for this workshop, visit the Registration Web page or call (919) 560-7993.
Additional tree planting volunteer events are being held throughout January and February 2016. Information on all upcoming events is available on Greener Durham’s website.

Trees Across Durham is a broad-based partnership dedicated to making Durham a healthier and greener community now and in the future through the planting and protection of trees; the education of tree caretakers and the general public about how to maintain healthy trees; and the measurement and communication of the benefits trees provide to the environment and community.

Growing a backyard grocery for wildlife

by Nan Len

The cardinals who live in our backyard have brightened up many days this winter. In the summer, I am delighted to watch the hummingbirds buzz around our feeder and the bees methodically going from bloom to bloom. From spring to fall, four or five toads hang out on our driveway at night. I have watched a luna moth emerge out of its cocoon and I feel quite clever when I catch sight of a praying mantis. A couple of turtles, some snakes, and a fox have traversed our backyard.

I want more – more birds, more insects, more turtles, more toads and more mammals. This desire led me to read “Bringing nature home” by Douglas W. Tallamy (Timber Press, 2007)

Tallamy, a professor and chair of the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware, brought up a point that I had never considered: insects are the main food for many species of wildlife. The best source of food for many insects is native plants. In order for me to sustain and expand the diversity of wildlife in my backyard, I need to start thinking like a neighborhood grocer.

There is something deceitful about my seemingly benign grocery analogy. It is a ruthless little neighborhood where I am stocking the shelves. Many of my customers are also the daily special.

By making sure I have food and shelter for bees, butterflies, crickets, grasshoppers, and spiders, I am providing a meal for small mammals, toads, and birds, which are themselves a meal for snakes, bigger birds and mammals. These food chains make up the food web.

Most of these distressing events may take place out of my sight, but I fail as a grocer if I neglect the food preferences of anyone in my neighborhood. A test of my success is how diverse my customers are.

When you buy your next plant, reconsider your choice if it is labeled “pest free”. If nothing wants to nibble on that plant, isn’t that like your grocery store manager replacing your favorite apple with plastic fruit? If most of your landscape is pest free, then you have a grocery of beautifully packaged, cellophane wrapped, processed stuff with few interesting customers stopping by.

The statistics on the loss of natural habitats are distressing. I cannot change the years of unintended consequences of humans being humans. But by planting native plants, I can do my part to build a resilient food web. I will get to see more of my wildlife neighbors and they will find a good meal. I’ll settle for that.