Is purple loosestrife in your garden?

Purple loosestrife

Purple loosestrife is designated as a noxious weed in Minnesota. It's illegal to plant purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) and its cultivars. However, it is still legally available for sale in some other states. DO NOT BUY IT! Also, purple loosestrife seeds are present in some wildflower seed mixes-check the label before you buy any seed packages.

Garden varieties of loosestrife, which were once thought to be sterile, have been proven to cross-pollinate with wild purple loosestrife to produce viable seed. Gardeners can help control the spread of this plant and protect our environment from its harmful impacts by not planting purple loosestrife or the following cultivars:

Atropurpureum, Brightness, Columbia Pink, Dropmore Purple, Firecandle, Flashfire, Floralie, Florarose, Gypsy Blood, Happy, Lady Sackville, Morden Gleam, Morden Pink, Morden Rose, Pink Spires, Purple Dwarf, Purple Spires, Robert, Rose Gleam, Rose Queen, Roseum superbum, Rosy Gem, Rosy Glow, The Beacon, The Rocket, or Tomentosum.

Details on how you can control purple loosestrife on your property or shoreline.

Alternative plantings for purple loosestrife

Several species of native wildflowers display characteristics similar to purple loosestrife. The following plants are an example of some of the environmentally-friendly species available at garden centers and nurseries.

Note: The plants shown below are just a sampling of alternatives. Many others may be available. "Restore Your Shore" may help you to find the right plant for your location.


Swamp milkweed

Swamp milkweed
(Asclepias incarnata)

A widespread plant of wet meadows and other sunny, wet or moist habitats. It can grow on non-acid peat (sedge peat), black organic soil, as well as wet to mesic, mineral soils. A fragrant, showy plant that is excellent for lakeshores.

Fireweed

Fireweed
(Epilobium angustifolium)

Well-known in northern forested regions because it is a colonizer of bare or disturbed soil and it sometimes covers acres of cut-over or burned-over forest land. Lakeshores and streambanks are also common habitats. It does especially well on moist sandy soil. It spreads by rhizomes and seeds.

Blazing star or gay feather

Blazing star or gay feather
(Liatris sp.)

There are several species of Liatris that are native to Minnesota. Plants grow pinkish-purple flowering spikes in a variety of sizes and adapted to a variety of soil conditions. These showy beauties bloom mid-summer into fall.

Spotted Joe-Pye-weed

Spotted Joe-Pye-weed
(Eupatorium maculatum)

A common plant of wet meadows, marshes, ditches, and moist pastures. It grows on moist mineral or peaty soils, but not in clayey soil, or in strongly acidic soil. Quickly fills in sunny places and is good in mixtures of wetland grasses, sedges, and colorful summer-flowering herbs.

Cardinal flower

Cardinal flower
(Lobelia cardinalis)

Often planted for its brilliant scarlet-red flowers. Excellent beside a pond or stream. It is short-lived so it must re-seed to persist. Prepare well-drained, rich, loam or sandy loam soil next to parent plants for seedlings. It does well in full sunlight or shade. Very attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies. Simply gorgeous.

Swamp smartweed

Swamp smartweed
(Polygonum coccineum)

Grows in shallow water and moist soil in wet meadows, marshes, sedge fens, and ditches. It adapts to changing water levels by producing leafy, aerial shoots or floating leaves. It has a compact spike of pink flowers.

Blue vervain

Blue vervain
(Verbena hastata)

Grows in wet meadows, wet prairies, mesic prairies, and along streams and lakeshores. It does well on wet sand, black organic soil, or upland loam soil. Spreads mostly by seed. Good in mixtures.