5 invasive plants taking over Georgia in 2022

Combined ShapeCaption
Florida Neighborhood Complains About Naked Gardener

Don’t let your garden be overrun by these aggressive plants

There is nothing worse to a gardener than having your plants overrun by a wild species. After all, pruning, pulling and cleansing your garden of unwanted vegetation can take valuable time.

With that in mind, here are the top five most invasive plants taking over Georgia in 2022, according to research gathered by the University of Georgia’s Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health.

Kudzu

When it comes to invasive species, nothing brings stress to a gardener quite like kudzu. It’s in every Georgia county, according to UGA’s Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health, and it can be a pest to your backyard.

“Preferred habitat includes open, disturbed areas such as roadsides, right-of-ways, forest edges, and old fields,” the center said. “Pueraria montana var. lobata often grows over, shades out, and kills all other vegetation, including trees. It is native to Asia and was first introduced into the United States in 1876 at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. It was widely planted throughout the eastern United States in an attempt to control erosion.”

The vine flowers during the midsummer and bears brown, hairy fruit. With roots that can weigh up to 400 pounds, kudzu can be a challenge to remove.

Japanese honeysuckle

Japanese honeysuckle, or Lonicera japonica, is a perennial vine that can reach over 80 feet in length. Flowering from April to July, this evergreen to semi-evergreen plant bears small, shiny fruit that ages from green to black. From forest floors to country roadsides, this vine can be found nearly anywhere in the Peach State.

Many gardeners like to plant the vine due to its pretty whitish-pink flowers and fragrant aroma, but the honeysuckle can quickly grow out of your control if you’re not careful. If you plan on growing this plant, do so with great caution.

“It can girdle small saplings by twining around them and can form dense mats in the canopies of trees, shading everything below,” the center said. “A native of eastern Asia, it was first introduced into North America in 1806 in Long Island, NY. Lonicera japonica has been planted widely throughout the United States as an ornamental, for erosion control, and for wildlife habitat.”

ExploreHow to keep deer out of your garden

Chinese privet

Chinese privet, or Ligustrum sinense, is a semi-evergreen shrub native to Europe and Asia, and it can be found in 96% of Georgia counties. While this leafy, tree-like shrub is often used in hedgerows, it poses some ecological threats that should make you re-consider planting it.

Ligustrum sinense can tolerate a wide range of conditions,” the center said. “Plants form dense thickets, invading fields, fencerows, roadsides, forest understories, and riparian sites. They can shade out and exclude native understory species, perhaps even reducing tree recruitment. Native to Europe and Asia, Ligustrum sinense was introduced in the United States in 1852 as an ornamental plant.”

The Chinese privet flowers from April to June, revealing a cream colored flower and pollen. It bears spherical green fruit that blackens as it ripens.

ExploreAtlanta-based Pike Nurseries to host free gardening classes

Mimosa

Present in 94% of Georgia counties, the mimosa is a small tree native to Asia. The 10 to 15 foot tree has leaves that resemble a fern, and it grows fragrant, pink flowers in the early summer. During the late summer, it grows flat, long seed pods.

While this tree is an ornamental favorite for some gardeners, it can be incredibly difficult to weed out once its in your yard.

Albizia julibrissin invades any type of disturbed habitat,” the center said. “It is commonly found in old fields, stream banks, and roadsides. Once established, mimosa is difficult to remove due to the long-lived seeds and its ability to re-sprout vigorously. Albizia julibrissin is native to Asia and was first introduced into the U.S. in 1745.”

Sericea lespedeza

Sericea lespedeza, or lespedeza cuneata, is an aggressively invasive semi-woody forb native to Asia. The plant features grey stems, thin leaves and cream colored flowers with purple throats that sprout from July to September. Once it finds its way into your backyard, it is going to take considerable effort to rout it out.

Lespedeza cuneata is an extremely aggressive invader of open areas and out-competes native vegetation,” the center said. “Once established, Lespedeza cuneata is very difficult to remove due to the seed bank which may remain viable for decades. Native to Asia and introduced into the United States in the late 1800s, it has been widely planted for erosion control, mine reclamation, and wildlife habitat.”