Gardeners urged to recognize, avoid invasive species when shopping for plants

Even though plants like batchelor buttons and baby's breath are invasive species that can wreak havoc on B.C.'s ecosystem, some local retailers continue to sell them because they're not on the province's list of regulated invasive plants.

Mike Dedels, invasive plant management coordinator with the Thompson Nicola Regional District, says stores should commit to stop selling them — but that shift will take time.

"A lot of these invasive plants have been around for quite a while … it takes a while to get them out of the system,"  Dedels told Daybreak Kamloops producer Jenifer Norwell. 

The district recently increased its efforts to reduce the spread of the destructive Japanese knotweed in the area.

Dedels says invasive species were once thought to be nice, ornamental plants for gardens.

The problem doesn't lie with full-time retailers but mostly with shops that pop up in the spring and close again by June, he added. 

"In some cases they have good, knowledgeable staff and in other cases they don't," Dedels said, adding that some staff buying stock may not even be located in the region, or know what's bad.

Jenifer Norwell/CBC

There are no substantial consequences for shops that sell plants on the unregulated list of invasive species, which means stores continue to stock them. 

"We need to work with them as a local committee … to make sure local operations do know," he said.

Dedels says an important resource for those with green thumbs is the Invasive Species Council of B.C.'s Grow Me Instead handbook, which identifies invasive species and suggests alternatives to grow.

"There's no easy answer for how the public makes a good choice for picking plants for their garden … it takes a little bit of work … you may be buying things in stores that are not legally invasive but are spreading quickly," he said.