Don’t Plant a Pest!

Alternatives to invasive garden plants

The Don’t Plant a Pest! program started in 2003 with initial meetings between representatives of the ecological restoration and horticultural communities. The first regional Don’t Plant a Pest! brochures, suggesting safe alternatives for invasive plants still used in landscaping, were published in 2004. The content on this website complements these brochures. Cal-IPC continues to work with regional partners to develop additional brochures.

PLEASE NOTE: This site currently features extended information only for some regions. Other regions will be expanded as information becomes available. You may also request up to 10 free “Don’t Plant a Pest!” brochures by e-mailing or phoning (510) 843-3902. The Southern California brochure is also available in Spanish.
Larger quantities may be ordered through our online shop.

Invasive plants are by nature a regional or local problem. A plant that jumps out of the garden in one climate and habitat type may behave perfectly in another. This website is organized by region, so you can learn which plants are most problematic in your area, and what alternative plants make good replacements. We also offer California-wide guides to alternatives for invasive trees and aquatic plants.

Select your region:

Southern California Bay Area Central Coast

Central Valley Sierra Foothills Tahoe Basin


How to use this website:

This site shows invasive plants commonly sold in nurseries, and gives suggested alternatives. When buying plants, consider these alternatives, or ask your local nursery for other noninvasive, non-fire-hazard plants. If there are problem plants in your yard, especially if you live near a natural area, we recommend that you remove it and replace it with a suggested alternative. Invasive plants that spread by seed should be removed from all areas.

If you like an invasive plant’s appearance, finding a replacement is often easy—some of the alternatives listed here are selected especially for their similar appearance. The recommended alternatives also thrive in the same environments and conditions as problem plants.
We have suggested some California native plants, for those wishing to rediscover California’s unique native plant heritage, as well as alternatives that are non-native but not invasive. We have tried to ensure that none of the recommended non-native plants are a problem. However, plants can adapt over time, and there is no guarantee some plants will not become pests in the future. If you notice one of these alternatives invading natural areas, please notify Cal-IPC.

Nursery Wallet Cards (pdf)

If you are out shopping for your garden and see an invasive plant for sale, consider leaving one of these cards to let the retailer know about your concern. The file provided can be downloaded and printed on perforated cardstock or regular paper, then cut apart.