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6 Invasive Plants to Watch Out For in Richmond, VA

We love Richmond and all of its natural beauty. As a leading landscape design company we are aware of the impact our work makes on the planet. Because of this, our planting designs are always done with respect to the area. Articles like the ten most popular plants and the ten best trees feature just a few of the region-specific plants we love to incorporate into our designs. But what about invasive plants that do harm to not only your yard but the eco-system at large? Here are six invasive plants to avoid during your next landscaping project.

1. Honeysuckle (Lonicera)


Honeysuckle, with its fragrant, tubular flowers and red or orange berries, may seem charming. It has visual appeal, and many homeowners are enticed by the sweet name, but don’t be fooled. Honeysuckle, or Lonicera, is an invasive species that can spread rapidly in your Richmond backyard. Uncontrolled, it can smother trees and shrubs, choking out other plants in your yard. Furthermore, planting honeysuckle can lead to ecological imbalances and a decline in native plant populations. If you must have vining plants, consider native vines like Virginia Creeper or Trumpet Honeysuckle, which offer similar aesthetics without the invasive tendencies.

2. English Ivy (Hedera helix)

Hedera helix

Let’s talk about another invasive vine with a deceptively charming name. English Ivy, also called Hedera helix, is a classic ground cover choice. The plants feature dark green, lobed leaves that form dense mats. You’ve probably seen these vines snaking up old homes. But what color it gives to your home or yard does not outweigh its impact on the environment and your outdoor living space.

English Ivy’s dense growth makes it challenging for other plants to grow as time goes on. Planting English Ivy can also harm trees by blocking sunlight and adding weight to branches, making them more susceptible to breakage. Instead of English Ivy, choose native groundcovers like Allegheny Spurge or Wild Ginger for a greener alternative.

3. Kudzu (Pueraria montana):

Pueraria montana

Number three on our list of invasive plants to watch out for in Richmond, VA is Kudzu, r Pueraria montana. Often referred to as "the vine that ate the South," is notorious for its rapid growth rate and ability to smother entire landscapes. It can alter ecosystems and cause severe environmental degradation, including soil erosion. Planting kudzu in Richmond is a surefire way to harm the soil quality in your own yard and compromise the integrity and success of your own landscaping efforts. Instead, opt for native vines like Trumpet Creeper or Crossvine to avoid such environmental harm.

4. Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima):

Pueraria montana

The Tree of Heaven, whose latin name is Ailanthus altissima, is just one more invasive species with a sweet sounding name. While it may be called the Tree of Heaven, it is anything but. With its compound leaves and greenish-yellow flowers, this tree is another invasive species that can quickly take over an area as it outcompetes native trees and disrupts urban ecosystems. Planting a Tree of Heaven in your backyard can lead to the displacement of native trees, reducing overall biodiversity in our area. Instead, choose native trees like Eastern Redbud or Black Cherry, or a tree on our most popular list for a more eco-friendly landscape.

5. Mimosa Tree (Albizia julibrissin):

Albizia julibrissin

Mimosa trees, or Albizia julibrissin, are known for their fern-like leaves and pink, puffball-like flowers. They may be pretty to look at, but they are invasive and can spread aggressively. These trees multiply much quicker than native trees, and inhibit growth of other plants by casting large swaths of shade from their umbrella-like crowns. A prolific spread, the long brown seed pods of the Mimosa tree continue throughout winter and will drop to spread the plant throughout your yard. For a better option, consider planting native trees like Dogwood or Eastern Red Cedar instead.

6. Elaeagnus


While not all Elaeagnus species are invasive, some have the potential to spread rapidly and disrupt local ecosystems. These invasive species can form dense thickets, outcompeting native vegetation and reducing habitat quality for native wildlife. As in all landscaping efforts, it's important to consult with a professional to ensure that the species of plant you are placing in your outdoor living space will not become a threat to the land around it.

Find Landscape Design Inspiration in Richmond, VA

In conclusion, being a responsible landscape design firm in Richmond, VA, means taking care to avoid the continued spread of the invasive species listed above. As a homeowner, it can be difficult to discern which species are safe for your backyard. We always recommend talking to your local professional, or hiring a local team such as Water and Earth to help.

By choosing native or non-invasive alternatives, you can help preserve the natural beauty and biodiversity that makes Richmond such a special place that we all call home. For non-invasive design inspiration, check out the blog or follow us over on Instagram.

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