Last June, we posted a blog called Plant This, Not That, featuring common invasive species you may have in your yard or garden, and native lookalikes you can plant instead. That blog was such a hit that we decided to make another one! Here are seven more substitutions you can make to improve your local ecosystem and help bees and other pollinators living nearby.
1. Instead of Common Baby’s Breath, plant Northern Bedstraw.
The tiny white flowers of Common Baby’s Breath are a very beautiful addition to the garden, but are considered noxious invasive plants. Common Baby’s Breath is native to Europe and Asia and when let to grow in Alberta will take over entire areas with its extremely long roots. A better alternative that is very similar looking and that is also good for the ecosystem is Northern Bedstraw! Northern Bedstraw has similar tiny white flowers that grow in clusters like Common Baby’s Breath does. Bees and other pollinators are also a big fan of Northern Bedstraw.
2. Instead of Tall Buttercup, plant Yellow Avens.
Tall Buttercup is classified as a noxious weed in Alberta. While the five-petaled flowers are beautiful to look at, this plant can spread quickly and has been known to invade pastures in the Edmonton region. Tall Buttercup is toxic to animals and outcompetes native plants, reducing the amount of food available for livestock. Fortunately, there’s a natural alternative that looks very similar and is great for pollinators! Yellow Avens have bright yellow flowers, are members of the Rose family, and are a great alternative to Tall Buttercup.
3. Instead of Flowering Rush, plant Broad-Leaved Willowherb.
Flowering Rush is a beautiful flower that grows in wet soil, usually around bodies of water. However, this plant is invasive and can spread by seed or root fragments and infest large areas, dominating the landscape and preventing other plants from growing. A native alternative to Flowering Rush is Broad-Leaved Willowherb, a plant with a pinky-purple flower that ranges from 15 to 70 centimetres in height. Broad-Leaved Willowherb and Flowering Rush have similar appearances, but very different results if planted!
4. Instead of Sulphur Cinquefoil, plant Smooth Leaved Cinquefoil.
Sulphur Cinquefoil is a Prohibited Noxious weed in Alberta. It has the ability to self-pollinate which allows it to spread quickly and take over entire areas. A very similar species, Smooth Leaved Cinquefoil is a much better alternative, as it is native to Alberta and looks almost identical. It can be challenging to tell different species of Cinquefoil apart, but a few main distinguishing features of Sulphur Cinquefoil are the paler yellow flower, more yellow leaves, and long hairs on the stem of the plant.
5. Instead of Yellow Iris, plant Yellow Columbine.
Yellow Iris was introduced to North America as an ornamental plant. Yellow Iris is considered a Prohibited Noxious weed, which means that the plants must be destroyed because they pose a risk to healthy Alberta ecosystems. While Yellow Irises are very beautiful, they can spread quickly and kill off other plants. Yellow Columbine is a plant native to Alberta that is a good alternative to Yellow Iris, that bears some resemblance and is great for bees and other pollinators!
6. Instead of Scentless Chamomile, plant Compound Fleabane.
Scentless Chamomile is a Noxious weed in Alberta. It spreads by seed, and a single plant can produce over 1 million seeds. While it is nice to look at, it isn’t good for Alberta’s ecosystems. A great alternative for Scentless Chamomile is Compound Fleabane. Compound Fleabane is a very resilient flower that looks very similar to Scentless Chamomile, and is great for bees and butterflies.
7. Instead of Blueweed, plant Smooth Blue Beardtongue.
Blueweed is a considered a Noxious weed in Alberta, meaning its growth and spread must be controlled and prevented. It grows to be 30 to 80 cm tall, and its blue flowers are clustered along the stem. Smooth Blue Beardtongue, on the other hand, is very similar looking to Blueweed, with beautiful bell-shaped flowers. These beautiful plants are great for Alberta’s pollinators.