A provincial group dedicated to stopping the spread of invasive plants is extending their knowledge to gardens in Victoria.
On Tuesday, the Invasive Species Council of B.C. held a free workshop at the Horticultural Centre of the Pacific, educating local horticulture businesses and master gardeners about how the industry is transitioning to invasive-free practices and how the local government is participating in the management of invasive species.
Invasive plants post a threat to biodiversity, and can out-compete native vegetation and cause environmental and economic harm.
According to Gail Wallin, executive director of the council, there are a number of invasive species that Victoria and Esquimalt residents are unknowingly planting in their gardens.
“You have a heavy gardening population throughout the Victoria area and people have unknowingly planted plants that, after a while, become invasive,” she said. “When you’re introducing a plant that’s new to the area, it has no natural predators, so it will cause a change in the ecosystem. Your backyard will actually be overtaken by these plants.”
The Capital Region Invasive Species Partnership, a subcommittee of the council, had identified more than two dozen invasive plants that are specific to Victoria including English ivy, Canada thistle, poison hemlock, Spanish bluebell and English holly.
Two other prominent invasive species are giant hogweed and knotweed.
Giant hogweed is an exotic plant that can grow up to 15 feet high and contains a toxic sap in its hollow stem that can cause second degree burns if you rub against it. Knotweed, AKA false bamboo, can grow up to 10 to 12 feet tall and has a large root mass that displaces other plants in the area.
Some invasive species are difficult to remove and can cause harm to humans or animals as well.
But there are ways to prevent the spread of such species.
Wallin said it’s important to know which species are invasive when planting them in a garden and to ask if a plant is invasive in the area.
The cost of invasive species to Canada is between $16.6 billion and $34.5 billion a year.