NON WEEDS FOR YOUR GARDEN
Published in The
Nimbin Good Times, July 2005
Regular NGT readers will be fully
aware of the my stance on weeds, after reading my articles on this topic over
the past year. Rather than going through a list of weedy plants to
coverage is given of the numerous exotic plants that you may safely use in your garden
without fear of them spreading through your garden and into the local environment. I am not against
people planting exotics, so long as they are non weedy and are not planted in
following exotic species have a proven track record of being
non-weedy, with limited potential to go feral. Why plant weeds, when
you may select from so many attractive non weedy natives and exotics? Why give
yourself and the environment a weed problem when it is entirely unnecessary? This list illustrates that you have many alternatives in
your garden choices. When you plant a new species/variety in your garden, ask your
self four questions.
it produce prolific quantities of viable seed in our area?
its seed be efficiently dispersed by wind, birds or wildlife?
Can the plant spread easily by vegetative means?
(ie: bits being swept downstream during floods or spread by humans in garden waste.)
the plant grow rampantly in our region?
the answer is yes to any of these, then be cautious about planting that species.
A good approach is an internet search to see if it is a weed
overseas or in other areas around Australia. Alternatively, query your friends on their experiences with
the particular species and how it fared in their
gardens. Even after these precautions have been taken, problems may still
arise. If so, get rid of the plants quickly. A few specimens are easy to
eliminate. Once they have gotten out of control, you will have a lot of
extra weeding or you will just have to live with the infestation.
are ways around the problem of weeds in your garden.
Plant seedless varieties of weed species if they are available. The best
example is the seedless form of Orange Jessamine (Murraya paniculata).
People can plant this variety and still enjoy the perfumed flowers without
creating a weed problem.
* Every year, strip the unripe seeds
from any potential weedy tree/shrub, thereby preventing the species
from spreading. Obviously, this approach is suitable for only smaller growing
* For species with male and female flowers on
separate plants, only use male specimens in the garden, so seeds are never
produced to create problems. Paper Mulberry (Brousonetia papyrifera)
has the potential to be the weed from hell in our area - from my personal experience. I purchased two plants at The Channon market -
unfortunately they turned out to be a male and a female, thereby producing viable seed and creating a weed problem around our Blue Knob
farm. All the large trees have been poisoned, but seedlings keep popping up
and are difficult to control. Insightfully, the ancient Polynesians only took male
plants on their voyages to establish new settlements in the Pacific, thereby
preventing Paper Mulberry from becoming an invasive weed.
A major obstacle is that a plant is only
declared noxious after it has become a problem. Being classified as noxious
means that weed inspectors can force land owners to do something about
the spread of the species on their properties. It would be far more sensible
if the authorities were proactive.
Plants should be thoroughly vetted before they are sold to an unsuspecting public.
Gardeners and land holders should only be able to plant species that are
deemed to have limited or no weed potential. Alas, with Paper Mulberry,
no government bodies will help my control efforts at
Blue Knob unless it is declared
noxious. By the time it is declared noxious it would be too late, as it would
be out of control and wreaking environmental havoc. Unbelievably stupid.
The following listing is by no means
comprehensive and it would be appreciated if people emailed their
suggestions on other non weeds so that the listing may be expanded upon - email@example.com.
This article can be downloaded from The Nimbin Plant Selection Guide (www.davidmcminn.com/ngc).
Corrections are most appreciated. People may select from an
enormous range of native and exotic plants to create a beautiful garden and
still remain environmentally responsible.
Azalea is not a weed problem in our area. However, people living in
rural areas should be aware that these plants are apparently poisonous for the local
wallaby population and should be avoided in such situations.
Bamboo species. Clumping
bamboos are promoted as a non invasive alternative to the rampant
running bamboos. However, clumping bamboos do
pose a serious maintenance problem. Unless you are going to harvest the
shoots and/or culms regularly, do not plant large clumping bamboos. They still spread outwards and ultimately become huge and indestructible. I
have been trying to kill one large clump on our farm by removing all new shoots. The aim was to exhaust the clump EVENTUALLY. After 5
years, it is still surviving, but very much reduced in size. (Poisoning
was never an option.) In Asia, bamboos have a massive flowering every
so many decades or even centuries. With this abundance of seed, rat plagues
become a major health and economic concern. How a bamboo flowering
will impact upon the Australian environment remains unknown, as it has
never happened before.
Boysenberry & Loganberry. These berry
cultivars are hybrids derived from the common Blackberry, which is a
highly noxious pest in southern Australia. However, they are both non weeds,
as they produce infertile seed and thus may safely be planted in your
Bromeliads. Generally these attractive epiphytic plants are a safe, non weedy option to grow
in a garden. The notable exception is perhaps Spanish Moss. This species hangs down from tree branches in an attractive shawl like mat. It has potential to cause problems, as it can spread from tree to tree. It is in the process of
engulfing the beautiful Bunya Pine in the grounds of the Nimbin
Catholic Church. In its native southern USA, the weight of this plant may
result in limb breakage, especially in heavy rains and/or high winds.
Browallia species. Perennial shrub with pretty orange - yellow
flowers, which may safely be planted in gardens.
Camellia cultivars. Camellias
do not present a weed problem in our
region. These are slow growing, small trees native to eastern and
southern Asia, which are widely cultivated for their beautiful
Cycads. The weed
potential of this group of plants is zero, as the plants are usually very
slow growing. A specific beetle species is also required to pollinate
each species of cycad. These are lacking in Australia for exotic
species, so they will rarely produce viable seed. Any plants that did go feral
would be quickly ripped off by plant poachers, wanting to make a quick
buck. Large cycads are highly prized and very valuable.
Datura species pose a
limited weed threat in our area.
Frangipani cultivars have been grown in Australia for over 100 years and
have never presented a
Gardenia species & cultivars. Exotic Gardenias species do not
pose a difficulty. You may also consider the native Gardenia or
Rhandia species as alternatives.
Hibiscus cultivars. These very attractive species
have limited weed potential in the Northern Rivers. A few species grow
rampantly, but they do not set seed or spread extensively.
Magnolia species & cultivars. This genus includes many beautiful
plants, including evergreen and winter deciduous species from Asia
and North America. None are known to cause a weed problem and are well worthwhile growing in local gardens.
Orchids. Many orchid
cultivars are so heavily hybridised that they are infertile or have
poor fertility. Some exotic species may present a problem, but no web references
could be sourced to support this possibility.
Palms. Most palm
species do not present a weed problem. They are usually slow growing
(eg: Rhapis, Howeas, etc) and they often only have a single trunk - one swipe
with a chain saw will kill the tree, with some species rewarding you
with delicious heart of palm salad. However, there are exceptions and
a few species of Chamadorea, Phoenix and Syragrus have serious weed potential.
Rose cultivars. Cultivated roses are non weedy and it can be
more of a problem to get them to grow well in our warm humid climate.
Many varieties are prone to fungal attack so it is best only to plant
varieties with good disease resistance. Importantly, some Rosa species can escape from gardens, causing localised weed
problems (eg: along Blue Knob Rd).
Port Wine Magnolia is a small, slow growing evergreen tree
usually to 2m - 3m. Its glossy leaves are dense giving the
plant a compact shape. The cream
and red-brown flowers are produced in December and are heavily
Cuban Royal Palm (Roystonea regia). In frost free
areas, plant this as an alternative to the weedy Cocos Palm (Syagrus
romanzoffianum). Royal Palms are longer lived (200 years) and more aesthetically
pleasing with limited weed potential. Even better select the local Bangalow Palm (Archontophoenix cunninghamii).
Strelitzia species. Bird of Paradise
and Giant Bird of Paradise are very attractive evergreen perennials
and have been grown in our area for decades. They are very unlikely to become weedy.