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Alternative Plants

The alternative plants listed are expert-recommended, exotic and native plants to choose instead of invasive plants. Many invasive plants are eye-catching and popular among gardening enthusiasts, but can significantly harm our environment, economy and human health. Experts have chosen multiple alternatives for you that offer comparable growing ability and visual appeal for your gardening or landscape project. For additional recommendations—and there are many varieties of non-invasive plants to choose—contact your local nursery for guidance on choosing the 'best plant for the best place.' 

Hybrid Yarrow

Zone 3. Like the common yarrow, A. millefolium hybrids are low plants with ferny foliage and flat-topped clusters of tiny flowers. Cultivars are available in a wide range of pastel colours,...learn more

Purple Wintercreeper Euonymus

‘Coloratus’ is a bright green leaved selection of the common wintercreeper that colours purple in the winter. It is more prostrate and shade-tolerant than other cultivars and forms...learn more

Foam Flower

A diminutive herbaceous perennial, producing three-lobed or three-parted leaves 3 to 12 cm wide, and tiny white star-like flowers on arching stems to 15 cm long. Spreading slowly by rhizomes under woodland conditions;...learn more

Yerba Buena

BC native. A trailing, aromatic, evergreen herb from a woody rhizome. Stems are generally prostrate, occasionally rooting where they touch the ground, and forming mats. The tiny white flowers are...learn more

Barrenwort

Evergreen and deciduous woodland perennials, known for their neat, compound leaves and small, brightly coloured flowers on wiry stems in spring. Some spread slowly, while others clump. They all benefit...learn more

Hosta

Herbaceous perennials with broad, spade-shaped waxy leaves, often with impressed parallel veins. Surprisingly sun tolerant in moist soil and drought tolerant in shade. Most cultivars are grown for coloured or...learn more

Alumroot

Perennials grown either for their colourful, mostly evergreen leaves or for their sprays of vivid flowers or sometimes both. Many cultivars: e.g., ‘Vanilla Spice’: silver and green...learn more

Japanese Water Iris

Otherwise known as rabbitear iris for the small upright petals (standards) in the centre of the flower, this species revels in shallow water or along pond margins. Flowers are very...learn more

Butter and Sugar iris

Sibirica-type iris with tight clumps of narrow upright leaves from compact creeping rhizomes, and slender flower stems to about 75 cm tall. Flowers are creamy yellow and white and make excellent...learn more

Oregon Iris

Native to southwestern Washington and western Oregon, this herbaceous iris has very narrow grassy leaves and attractive, narrow petaled, lavender to creamy white or yellow flowers. The short creeping rhizomes...learn more

Japanese Iris

The Japanese iris is an elegant pond-margin species with metre-tall upright leaves and broad, flattened, attractively marked flowers. Yellow is unknown in Japanese iris; however, modern hybrids of the species...learn more

Torch Lilly

This yellow-flowered torch lily produces stiff, upright spikes to about 60 cm tall, above mounds of grassy leaves. The flowers fade to creamy white below the open, yellow blooms. One of...learn more

Snapdragons

Tender perennials grown as summer annuals. Plants are bushy with flower spikes to 90 cm tall. Dwarf cultivars are more compact. Flowers on spur types produce nectar, and attract hummingbirds, bees...learn more

Daylilly

Long-lived, clumping herbaceous perennials with grassy leaves and trumpet-shaped flowers on upright stems. Flowers of lemon daylily (H. lilioasphodelus) are early with a strong citrus scent (to 90 cm). ‘Stella...learn more

Mersea Yellow Penstemon

An outstanding yellow selection of the normally orangeflowered pine-leaf penstemon. Mounds of bright green, needle-like leaves and masses of narrow-tubed yellow flowers on stalks to 30 cm over a long season....learn more

Yellow Beard-tongue

A bright yellow selection of the spectacular, summer blooming beard-tongue. Slender spikes of pendulous, narrow-tubed flowers attract butterflies, hummingbirds and bees. The 30 to 60 cm tall stalks are excellent for cutting....learn more

Birchleaf Spirea

BC native. A small deciduous shrub 30 to 60 cm tall, with nearly flattened, rounded terminal flower clusters 6 or 7 cm across. Blooming in early summer, the flowers contrast strongly with the deep...learn more

Pacific Ninebark

Restricted primarily to wet soils of the coast and wet interior zone, this shade-tolerant shrub grows 1 to 4 m tall and is noted for its layered, vertically peeling bark. Small white...learn more

Preston Lilac

Late-flowering, hardy lilacs originated in the 1920s by the Canadian breeder, Isabella Preston. Preston lilacs are shrubs or small trees with strong, upright stems and fragrant white, pink or rosy-purple...learn more

Rocky Mountain Juniper

BC native. Large shrub or small, conical open-branched tree to 10 m, with coarse, vertically shredding bark and grey-green aromatic, evergreen foliage. Native to dry, often lime-rich rocky soils on open...learn more

Smoke Bush

A deciduous shrub or small tree to about 6 m, with rounded leaves and tiny flowers in densely branched, smoke-like clusters, the clusters pink, green or grey and persisting into the...learn more

Yellow Gem Shrubby Cinquefoil

BC native. Originally collected in the mountains on the Olympic Penninsula of Washington State, this compact cultivar stands 30 to 60 cm tall. Large, bright yellow flowers are produced from spring until...learn more

Common Rockrose

A trailing evergreen shrub, about 30 cm tall and wide, with small, dark green leaves and 2-cm bright yellow, saucer-shaped flowers in clusters at the branch tips. Flowering continuously through the...learn more

Red Hot Poker

Perennials noted for narrow spikes of brightly coloured, closely packed tubular flowers above stiff, grassy leaves. Only a few species are suitable for the mildest gardens, but there are hardier...learn more

Yellow Ice Plant

A hardy evergreen ice-plant from the high mountains of southern Africa. The sculpted, succulent leaves are packed together in pairs with the yellow, daisy-like flowers emerging between them, opening only...learn more

Broad-leaf Stonecrop

BC native. Primarily inhabiting rocky cliffs and boulders along the coast, this evergreen, rosetteforming species has waxy-grey-blue succulent leaves and yellow flowers. Spreads both by rooting of individual leaves and...learn more

Japanese Kerria

A robust suckering shrub with slender, dark green stems to 3 m tall. The golden yellow, double-flowered pompoms are produced in spring and sparingly through summer along the arching branches. Grows...learn more

Deciduous Yellow Azalea

This 2- to 3-m-tall spreading shrub is known for its exquisitely fragrant, golden yellow flowers in early May. Though the nectar is toxic, it only poisons honey if it is...learn more

Forsythia

The border forsythias, such as the common ‘Lynwood’, are robust, suckering shrubs with arching branches and bright yellow flowers produced in early spring before leaf emergence. Most are...learn more

Shrubby Cinquefoil

BC native. Until recently known under Potentilla, the shrubby members of this hardy, mostly yellowflowered clan are now Dasiphora. Most commercial cultivars are derived from European and Asian stock. Taller...learn more

Prickly Rose

BC native. Excellent for open, sunny sites; other native rose species also make appropriate alternates. Great barrier or hedgerow plantings. Prickly rose has beautiful, fragrant pink flowers 5 to 7 cm across,...learn more

Wolf-willow

BC native. A bushy, silverleaved deciduous shrub growing 1 to 4 m tall on dry to moist, welldrained sites, primarily in the eastern and northern parts of the province. The small mealy...learn more

Pacific Crabapple

BC native. A deciduous shrub or small tree to 12 m with variable leaves and thorny branches, that provides excellent habitat for birds. Broad clusters of white flowers are followed by 1....learn more

Sandbar Willow/ Coyote Willow

BC native. This shrubby, colonizing species grows 4 to 7 m tall on riverbanks and gravel bars across North America. Noted for its handsome, slender, silvery-grey leaves and airy appearance, it is...learn more

Silver Buffaloberry

A thorny, deciduous shrub, the branches and leaves covered in soft, silvery hairs. Plants are exceptionally hardy, growing 2 to 6 m tall along streams and on moist hillsides. Small yellow flowers...learn more

Scouler’s Willow

BC native. A vigorous, multi-stemmed deciduous shrub or tree, 3 to 20 m tall. New shoots are bright yellow-brown and the small, yellowish pussy willows appear in late winter. Full sun, in...learn more

Spike Speedwell

Summer blooming herbaceous perennials with blue, pink or white flowers in slender spikes above narrow dark green leaves. Available cultivars vary in flower colour and size, from 15 to 50 cm tall....learn more

Hardhack

BC native. Few shrubs are as tough and trouble free as hardhack, capable of surviving seasonal flooding and drought, shade or sun. Hardhack has a prettier side, too. Pink flowers...learn more

Bloody Iris

A herbaceous perennial iris from east Asia with bright blue (or white) flowers with yellow markings in late spring. Narrow grassy leaves form dense clumps in boggy soil, at wetland...learn more

Tall Delphinium

The tall or candle delphinium is a vigorous herbaceous perennial native to the mountains of Europe and Asia, with deeply cut leaves and statuesque spikes of sky blue flowers to 2...learn more

Blazing Star

A drought tolerant herbaceous perennial native to the prairies of the American Midwest. Tall spikes to 1 m or more, thick with purple (or white) flowers, stand above mounds of grass-like...learn more

Beach Fleabane Daisy

Native to coastal areas of Oregon and California, this evergreen herb forms tough mounds of foliage, 20 to 30 cm high, through which yellow-eyed, white- to purple-rayed daisies emerge in spring. Ideal...learn more

Alpine Aster

BC native. A clustering perennial aster native to northern mountain meadows and alpine areas on limestone derived soils. The flowers—small daisies with white to violet rays and yellow...learn more

Cutleaf Daisy

BC native. A perennial herb 3 to 25 cm tall, native to dry, rocky soils in the mountains. White to pink, many-rayed flowerheads with yellow centres arise from low cushions of finely...learn more

White New York Aster

The common New York aster is noted for providing late season (Sept. and Oct.) colour in the garden. White flowered selections include ‘Snow Cushion’ (15 cm), ‘White Opal...learn more

White Swan Coneflower

A white-flowered selection of the common purple coneflower. The 8-cm diameter flower heads have wide, white rays and orange conical centres. Grows to about a metre in height in well-drained,...learn more

Blanket Flower

BC native. A herbaceous perennial native to dry-land areas of western NA and a common garden subject. The lax stems are 20 to 70 cm tall and carry numerous 6-cm diameter reddish...learn more

Heart-leaved Arnica

BC native. Densely hairy herbaceous perennial with heartshaped leaves and bright yellow 5-cm-wide daisies throughout the summer on 20- to 50-cm stems. Plants are rhizomatous, sometimes forming clumps. For dry...learn more

Alpine Aster

BC native. A clustering perennial aster native to northern mountain meadows and alpine areas on limestone derived soils. The flowers—small daisies with white to violet rays and yellow...learn more

Pinks and Carnations

Perennial carnations and pinks require full sun, good drainage and lime-rich soil. Most produce low mounds of blue-green evergreen leaves. Allwood pinks (z4), D. x allwoodii, includes a wide variety...learn more

Arkwright’s Campion

A hardy self-seeding annual or short-lived perennial to about 45 cm with clusters of large, brilliant orange flowers above bronze foliage in early summer. Sun or part shade in moist, well-drained...learn more

Wild Bergamont

BC native. An aromatic herbaceous perennial with slender stems, 50 to 90 cm tall, arising from slender creeping rhizomes. Summer blooming with globular terminal heads of pink, hummingbird pollinated flowers. Good for...learn more

Clustered Bellflower

An early summer blooming herbaceous perennial with tight, rounded clusters of deep purpleblue funnel-shaped flowers above mounding foliage. Vigorous and floriferous, this species is an easy garden plant in sun...learn more

Bluehead Gilia

A hardy annual, native to dry, sandy, gravelly or rocky waste places in in southern BC, or more likely, introduced from similar habitats in the western United States. The sky-blue, ...learn more

Summer Gentian

A low-mounding herbaceous perennial with royal-blue trumpet flowers in late summer. Originating in the mountains of Asia, this species is among the most adaptable of all gentians, benefiting from moist,...learn more

Common Camas

BC native. Large, purpleblue, star-like flowers are borne on 30-to 90-cm stems above rosettes of grass-like leaves in April. Plants produce edible bulbs, which were a food source for many...learn more

Goat’s Beard

BC native. A robust herbaceous perennial with broad fern-like leaves on stiffly upright stems. In summer, the tiny white flowers are held in multi-branched arching clusters at the tops of...learn more

False Soloman’s Seal

BC native. A handsome clustering herbaceous perennial, the 50- to 100-cm ascending tall stems clothed with alternating broad leaves. Conical heads of foamy white flowers are borne in early summer...learn more

Peegee Hydrangea

A deciduous shrub, 3 or 4 m tall, with large, frothy, pink-tinged conical flower-heads at the tips of flexible branches in late summer. Other cultivars are similar, but with stiffer, more open...learn more

Black Elderberry

BC native. This big deciduous shrub is found primarily east of the Coast Mountains. It produces pyramidal clusters of white flowers in early spring, and later, black berries that are...learn more

Red-osier Dogwood

BC native. Red-osier dogwood is a suckering shrub, 1 to 6 m tall, common on moist soils along stream sides and at wetland margins. The slender stems are bright red when young...learn more

Black Huckleberry

BC Native. A densely branched deciduous shrub to about 1.5 m, common in forest openings and clearings in the mountains. The sweet, tasty berries are purplish black, about 7 to 10 mm in...learn more

Red Raspberry

Red raspberry is native to Europe, but cultivated hybrid raspberries have been improved using many species, including BC natives. Summer-fruiting cultivars, such as ‘Skeena’ and the widely cultivated ...learn more

Marionberry or Boysenberry

Combining many of the best qualities of blackberries and raspberries, from which these hybrids are derived, these plants are vigorous, but not invasive. Boysenberry is more raspberry-like in taste; marionberry...learn more

Thimbleberry

BC native. A common deciduous shrub, native to a wide area of North America. The leaves are among the largest of any Rubus species, and its white flowers are showy....learn more

Nootka Rose

BC native. A thicket-forming deciduous shrub, up to 2.5 m tall. The velvety pink flowers are borne in summer, and at 4 to 8 cm across, are the largest of all of our...learn more

Pink Monkey Flower

BC native. A robust, stickysoft-hairy perennial that grows along stream sides, seepage areas and other well-drained, wet sites. The broad, tubular flowers are bright rosy pink with a yellow throat,...learn more

Red Columbine

BC native. Columbines are easy plants in the garden, prospering in part shade in moist well-drained soil. The bright red flowers and ample nectar of this 50- to 90-cm-tall native...learn more

Beard-tongue

A spectacular summer blooming perennial with slender spikes of pendulous, narrow-tubed flowers attractive to hummingbirds. The 30- to 60-cm-tall stalks are excellent for cutting. There are numerous cultivars, in colours...learn more

Cardinal Flower

An eastern North American native herbaceous perennial that grows in wet or even boggy soils. The flowers are brilliant vermilion red, produced through summer and fall on flowering stalks a...learn more

Wild Bleeding Heart

BC native. Delicate, lacy leaves and arching sprays of hanging pink flattened bells characterize this spring-blooming woodland native. Growing 15 to 45 cm from a shallow network of fleshy, brittle rhizomes, bleeding...learn more

Wild Celery

BC natives. There are four Angelica species native to BC. All are handsome, aromatic herbaceous perennials ranging in size from less than a metre to more than 2 m in height....learn more

Shieldleaf Rodgersia

This moisture-loving herbaceous perennial requires semishade and produces large, shieldlike leaves on long stalks from stout, spreading rhizomes. The botanical name for this plant was previously Rodgersia. The white plume-like...learn more

Rodgersia

Rodgersia are large herbaceous perennials noted for bold shade-tolerant foliage and tall, showy inflorescences. Like the similar, but smaller Astilbe, rodgersias are colonyforming summer bloomers that revel in rich, moist...learn more

Ligularia

This moisture-loving perennial produces large, rounded leaves with toothed edges, and upright, branched stems bearing large orange daisies in summer. Named selections with green, bronze or purple leaves are available....learn more

Arrowhead

BC native. This semi-aquatic plant inhabits wet ditches, ponds, lakeshores and marshes in the southern half of BC. It has arrowheadshaped leaves and produces elegant stalks of flowers with three...learn more

Small-flowered Bulrush

BC native. A number of similar native bulrushes are excellent subjects for pond and wetland margins. They have stiff, upright stems with narrow, strap-like leaves and flower clusters with radiating...learn more

Narrow-leaved Cotton Grass

BC native A colony-forming, grass-like sedge relative that grows 10 to 90 cm tall from creeping rhizomes. Cotton grass is named for its handsome, persistent cottony seed heads, present in the summer...learn more

Sedges

There are some 180 different sedge species native to BC. Nearly all are adapted to wet soils or seasonal flooding. The majority are tufted, grass-like perennials with linear leaves that are...learn more

Western Blue Iris

Perennial herb to about 50 cm tall, spreading from thick rhizomes. The flowers are light to deep blue with purple lines. Grows in marshy meadows and around moist lake margins in...learn more

Bee Balm

A fast growing, spreading herbaceous perennial for moist soil in full sun. Bee balms are aromatic mint-relatives with lavender, pink or red flower clusters that crown upright leafy stems 1.5 to 2...learn more

Hybrid Yarrow

Like the common yarrow, A. millefolium hybrids are low plants with ferny foliage and flat-topped clusters of tiny flowers. Cultivars are available in a wide range of pastel colours, and...learn more

Masterwort

A clumping, self-seeding herbaceous perennial, 60 to 90 cm tall, for moist soil in sun or part shade. Luxuriant leaves set off long-lasting umbels of starry flowers, excellent cut fresh or dried....learn more

Common Harebell

BC native. A diminutive herbaceous perennial with pretty, lavender-blue bells on wiry stems above low, dark green, grassy foliage. Flowering in summer on moist, welldrained, even rocky soils, in sun...learn more

Columbines

Columbines are easy plants in the garden, prospering in part shade in moist well-drained soil. Many are hardy, with flowers in a range of colours above lush tiers of leaves....learn more

Privet Honeysuckle

A dense, evergreen shrub, 2 m tall by 3 m wide, with opposite pairs of small leaves on horizontal branches. Small, creamy white flowers in spring are followed by translucent amethystpurple fruits...learn more

Purple Wintercreeper Euonymus

‘Coloratus’ is a bright green leaved selection of the common wintercreeper that colours purple in the winter. It is more prostrate and shade-tolerant than other cultivars and forms...learn more

Taiwan Creeping Raspberry

This dense, low-growing vine boasts finely corrugated evergreen leaves about 4 cm wide and tasty, orange salmonberry-like fruits in midsummer. It makes an attractive, weed-suppressing groundcover that is easily contained. Tolerates...learn more

Deer Fern

BC native. Deer fern is a tufted evergreen that grows to about 75 cm across. It is native across the Northern hemisphere in mild, moist to wet forests. Spore-bearing fronds are...learn more

Salal

BC native. A creeping evergreen shrub of coastal forests with broad, leathery leaves, white urn-shaped flowers in spring and edible, black berries in summer. Plants can grow to 3 m in...learn more

San Jose Holly

A dense upright holly to 7 or 8 m tall with glossy, small, dark green, spiny leaves. ‘San Jose’ is somewhat self-fruitful, but bears more reliably with a male pollinator...learn more

Tall Mahonia

BC native. An evergreen shrub with multiple, unbranched upright shoots to 2 m or more and softly spine-edged compound leaves. The bright yellow flowers are borne in early spring and are...learn more

Meserve Hollies

Cold-hardy evergreen hollies with shiny, blue-green foliage. Generally compact and shrubby, growing to 2 m or taller, but usually sheared for hedging. Female and fruitless male cultivars (e.g., Blue Princess,...learn more

Red Elderberry

BC native. This big deciduous shrub produces pyramidal clusters of white flowers in early spring, and later, brilliant red berries that are important early berries for many kinds of birds....learn more

Holly Leafed Osmanthus

Evergreen, holly-like leaves and sweetly fragrant flowers in late winter make this large shrub or small tree immediately recognizable. Variegated cultivars (e.g., ‘Goshiki’) are more compact. Grows 5...learn more

Winter Daphne

A low, winter-blooming evergreen shrub with flexible stems and rubbery, lance-shaped leaves. The exquisitely fragrant, cream and purple flowers are usually open during milder spells in mid and late winter....learn more

Pacific Rhododendron

BC native. Growing to 2 m or more, this rhododendron is adapted to south coastal conditions, performing best in humusy, welldrained soil with some shade and protection from cold winds in...learn more

Skimmia Cultivars

Skimmias are broadleaved evergreens grown for their terminal clusters of orange-blossom-scented flowers in early spring, and on female plants, bright red berries in autumn and winter. A male plant is...learn more

Evergreen Huckleberry

BC native. A bushy shrub that grows 2 m or more tall and wide. The white to pink urn-shaped flowers are followed by clusters of small but tasty, blue-bloomed, black berries....learn more

Oregon Grape

BC native. Oregon grape is noted for its sweetly scented, brilliant yellow early spring-borne flowers and blue-bloomed berries. It is a common, shade-tolerant understory shrub in southern BC. The berries...learn more

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