As winter settles in, it’s a great time to consider landscape upgrades and changes for the upcoming spring. While we are dreaming of plants and browsing catalogs, the internet or even asking well-meaning friends who share plants, it’s important to remember that our plant choices matter and can have consequences.

Not only are all of these plants listed as an invasive species in Kentucky, many of them also have other issues and are dated. Sadly, most or all of these plants are still in the trade, being sold at garden centers and installed by landscapers. We can help stop the spread of these unwanted plants and care for our ecosystem with a few simple good decisions.

For 12 days of Christmas, here are 12 common plants to avoid and a few native alternative suggestions:

Mimosa (Albizia julibrissi)

Native alternatives: Alternate-Leaf Dogwood, Red Buckeye, American Witch Hazel

Porcelain Berry Vine (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata)

Native alternatives: Virgin’s bower, Trumpet honeysuckle, Passionflower, American Wisteria

Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii)

Native alternatives: Virginia Sweetspire, Arrowwood, Black Chokeberry

Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis terniflora)

Native alternatives: Virgin’s bower, Trumpet honeysuckle, Passionflower, American Wisteria

Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus)

Native alternatives: Chokeberry, Itea, Strawberry Bush, Spicebush or Winterberry Holly

Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei)

Native alternatives: Wild ginger, Allegheny Spurge, Ferns, American alumroot

Japanese Honeysuckle Vine (Lonicera japonica)

Native alternatives: Crossvine, Trumpet honeysuckle, Passionflower, American Wisteria

Maiden Grass/Chinese Silver Grass (Miscanthus sinensis)

Native alternatives: Switch Grass or Indian Grass

Heavenly Bamboo (Nandina domestica)

Native alternatives: Winterberry, Coral Berry, Snow Berry, Beautyberry, American Holly, Chokeberry

Callary Pear (Pyrus japonica)

Native alternatives: Serviceberry, American hornbeam, Chickasaw plum

Japanese Spirea (Spiraea japonica)

Native alternatives: Steeplebush, Blueberry, Sweetspire, Chokeberry

Periwinkle (Vinca Minor)

Native Alternatives: Wild ginger, Allegheny spurge, Phlox, Ferns, Foam flower, American alumroot

Many great, native or non-invasive, non-native alternatives are available in addition to the options listed above. Remember to check the invasive lists (available through Kentucky Native Plant Society and Kentucky Invasive Plant Council. Happy holidays!

Nandina (Photo submitted)
Invasive euonymus. (Photo submitted)
Burning bush (Photo submitted)
Maiden grass (Photo submitted)