5 Reasons Your Business Should Use Plant Sentry™

5 Reasons Your Business Should Use Plant Sentry™

So chances are that if you’re reading this blog, you probably have read our other blogs. Yet, despite all our writing we’re still looking to expand our reach and increase our clients. That’s why today we’re talking to you about the 5 Reasons That Your Business Should Use Plant Sentry™!

1.  We’re One-Of-A-Kind 

In the Garden Industry, there is truly no one else like us. We’re the ONLY us!! The benefit of Plant Sentry™ is that we uniquely and expertly identify pathways to ship plants from point A to point B while remaining fully compliant with Federal & State Regulations.

2.  Knowledge is power!

Unlike any other service in our industry, we have compiled a database full of regulatory information exclusive to our clients.  While businesses can often fall victim to pitfalls from a lack of knowledge, Plant Sentry™ can fill your business’ regulation “holes” and open up pathways for sales that may not have been there before. All because our information provides you with the full scope of effort for your needs.

 3.  We Understand The Industry

Perhaps the most important reason your business should work with Plant Sentry™™ is that we KNOW the industry! Listen, at the end of the day we know that while 2020 provided a great opportunity to many of the growers and sellers in our industry, we know that this wasn’t the case for everyone. The bottom line at the end of the day is the Bottom Line. We know that affordability is a big deal in our industry, that’s why we offer fair and competitive pricing for our services. Whether you’re looking for just a consultation or for help regulating year-round, we can help you! 

4.  We have over 30 years of experience under our belt!

Believe it or not, we have been in this industry for quite a while. Our Chief Compliance Officer has not only dedicated the time to gain the necessary experience to make Plant Sentry™ the best but also goes the extra mile by sitting on various invasive species councils. Expertise is fundamental in our business, so we persistently pursue the latest regulatory insights throughout the nation. When it comes to tracking regulations that may be coming down the pipeline, Plant Sentry™™ can see what’s coming and help you and your business prepare for any necessary changes.

5.  We’re really fun to work with!

You can talk to our clients, or simply take our word for it, but there isn’t another team out there quite us! While we may be small, we are most certainly mighty, and incredibly dedicated. We prioritize both the positive change that our business can create and help our friends in the industry. We know business isn’t always a walk in the park, but we do our best to keep things as fun, and professionally optimistic as possible while keeping you informed and up-to-date.

We know that invasive pests, invasive diseases, and invasive plants happen, but we also know that every problem has a solution. Here at Plant Sentry™, we know we can’t always solve the problem before it starts. But, we know that consistent, stringent solution-based efforts can make a significant difference in the efficiency of your business. That’s why we take the initiative from the start to target compliance efforts and protocols to decrease the damage and harm that these invasive species can have on your business and to your customers.

When considering your next steps in managing your regulatory compliance, reach out to us here at Plant Sentry™ and let us show you how our efforts can save you time and money!

Are you an AmericanHort member? Did you miss Cultivate ’21? Check out our educational session at AmericanHort’s Cultivate ’21 On Demand!


Celebrating Pollinator Week The Right Way

Celebrating Pollinator Week The Right Way

June 21st is the first OFFICIAL day of Summer, but you know what else it is the first official day of???


In the United States, Pollinator Week falls between the dates of June 21st through June 27th. It is one of Plant Sentry™’s favorite weeks out of the entire year because instead of having to focus on the unfriendly pests, diseases, and invasive plant species, we can FINALLY focus on the good guys, pollinators!

As pollinator populations continue to decrease as a result of climate change, pesticide use, and other human activities, it has never been more imperative than now to know how to keep pollinators bzzzing about.

There are several ways that pollinator species can be protected and encouraged while still meeting plant sales goals that benefit all of the wondrous creatures of Earth. Today, we’re going to talk about one of the easiest and quickest ways to help, with a pollinator garden. 

It may only happen once a year, but celebrating pollinators is a year-round effort! Throughout our day-to-day lives in the Green Industry, we should consider taking the time to find new and cost-effective ways to benefit pollinators.

While the Green Industry is often limited from a sales point due to the invasive status of some pollinator plant varieties, and Federal and State regulations that require chemical use, there are still plenty of ways that we can help. 

Keep Pollinators Buzzing

In business we often see companies take initiatives to positively counteract the negative effects of their practices by doing something a little extra. While this is primarily seen in efforts towards carbon neutrality and fossil fuel resources, this is achievable in the Green Industry too!

One way is to create a pollinator habitat or pollinator garden! 

Start by identifying an area that your company owns, but isn’t currently being used for production. This can be in the front of your facilities as landscaping or can be an adjacent piece of property that doesn’t get used for growing. 

You may be surprised where you find it, but taking a quick look around, you may find that there is space where you can put a garden that could save your company some money in the long run. When finding your location consider other beneficial insects that may need refuge from your treated areas and consider planting for them too. If nothing else, you will be able to improve your local environment and beneficial insect populations.

Once you have figured out where your new pollinator garden is going to be located, the next step is to start digging! 

Using your local planting guides for native plants that are pollinator friendly, you can start planting varieties that stimulate the growth of bees, birds, butterflies, bats, beetles, and other pollinator species.

While much of this will come second hand to those of us in the industry, it’s good to be reminded that pollinator week is something to be encouraged and celebrated! If you and your team are looking for other ways to help bees and other pollinators, head over to for more tips and tricks!

Coming together to educate one another on pollinator’s status and practices gives us the opportunity to keep these positive environmental influences around for years to come. Don’t wait another day, get your pollinator habitat started today!


Preventing the Spread of Invasive Species

Preventing the Spread of Invasive Species

Despite that most of us slowed down for the pandemic, invasive species didn’t skip a beat! In fact, some of them thrived this past year without human hands to keep them in control. With that in mind, as we re-enter the world, it is more important than ever to do our part in preventing the spread of invasive species.

Now we know that for some of you that may be asking a lot. But, for others, this may be just what you were made for! Whatever your pace there are many ways that you can help control and prevent the spread of invasives. 

This week Plant Sentry™ is going over three types of invasives we look out for and how to prevent their spread!

When it comes to invasive species there are three categories we like to focus on:

  • Invasive Plant Species
  • Invasive Pests
  • Invasive Diseases
  • Preventing each of these invasives from spreading may seem challenging, but we promise that it’s much easier than you think.

    Invasive Plant Species

    When considering new plant varieties for your garden, you may want to try something new. When doing so it is important to know your native species. 

    It can be tough to remember all of the natives for your area. Make a list before shopping at your local nursery! Doing so will make it much easier to identify the species you’ll want to steer clear of.

    When it comes to preventing the spread of invasive plants, it isn’t just what you buy that will make a difference. How you remove invasive plants is just as important!

    Many areas of the United States have volunteer organizations that focus on training and actively removing invasive species. Joining one of these organizations can help you learn how to properly remove invasives.

    These opportunities also give you the chance to engage in your community and learn something new. To find volunteer opportunities visit the USDA website:

    Invasive Pests

    The second kind of invasive that we like to focus on is invasive pests. These buggers keep the USDA APHIS team busy year-round and can cause quite the commotion when mismanaged. 

    Invasive pests tend to require a little more due diligence and focus when it comes to their removal efforts. To be sure you’re following best practices ask your local extension office and regulatory bodies about treatment methods and any removal suggestions. 

    Expert insight is the difference between rolling the rock up the hill or catching it on the downslope.

    Invasive Diseases

    Much like invasive pests, invasive diseases require a little more work and research before they can be removed. When looking to treat an invasive disease you will want to follow a similar practice to that of the invasive pests. 

    Check with your local extension office, local guidelines, and any regulatory agencies that are also fighting the invasive.

    Chances are there is a treatment protocol in place already and you’ll want to take the expert advice into account. If left untreated, an invasive disease can spread unnoticed wreaking havoc anywhere it can spread. 

    Preventing Invasives

    When it comes to invasive species management the best practice is to prevent them as much as possible. This is the only 100% guaranteed way that an invasive species can be prevented.

    While it is easier said than done, there are many ways that you can help stop the spread of invasives.

    1. Don’t move firewood. Buy your firewood locally and close to your camping locations. Many pest larvae are burrowed in contaminated wood that is then spread to different environments when moved. Prevent the spread and buy what’s there, we assure you we’re saving you in the long run. 
    1. Clean your equipment! Whether it’s a boat, your shoes, your pants, your camping equipment, what have you. Clean all items that may have picked up seeds, pests, or spores before entering or leaving an area where the spread may have taken place. 
    1. When in doubt, turn it down! If you’re not sure about whether it is diseased, contains a pest, or is invasive, leave it be and move onto your next option. While it may not always be preventable or noticeable at the time, invasive species have traits that they are known for and can help guide you as to whether or not it may be one.

    If you’d like to learn more about invasive species and ones that may affect your area be sure to stop by the USDA’s list of invasive species to learn more:


    5 Tips For Growers Shipping Plants Online

    5 Things For Growers Shipping Plants Online

    2020 was THE year for shipping plants online! Despite having been around for several years, until 2020 the Home & Garden Industry never quite jumped on the eCommerce bandwagon. But, desperate times called for desperate measures.

    While there were already a couple of players in the industry, like our client Nature Hills, there were still many growers throughout the U.S. who didn’t see the value in shipping plants by way of the internet. But, as quickly as 2020 began, all of this changed.

    In 2020, the demand for online shopping of live plants was at an all-time high.

    The pandemic forced both large and small businesses that were selling plants to pivot and consider this new market with little time for second-guessing. As these businesses and growers extended their shipping services to meet the increasing demand from people all over the world, regulators were also getting to work.

    While shipping plants online may be a good change for the industry, regulators and industry experts have a long list of reasons why shipping plants throughout the United States can be just as hurtful as it is helpful.

    Here are the 5 things growers and online plant nurseries need to know about shipping live plants using the E-Commerce model.

    1. Regulations Still Apply

    While many growers and nurseries would expect nothing less, unfortunately, there are still some companies out there that may be a little surprised by this. Despite the number of web pages out there (roughly 1.7 Billion of them), Regulatory Officials have wasted no time at all in auditing online websites.

    While getting garden plants delivered to your doorstep sounds like it would be harmless enough, there are still a number of online stores that do not disclose the origin locations of their goods. If a plant comes from overseas or from an infected nursery, that order, and consequently that plant put all the other plants in that truck at risk. 

    To combat the efforts of negligent sellers, regulators throughout the U.S. have pivoted to auditing online storefronts and notifying businesses if it looks like they’re selling invasive plants or non-compliant goods. 

    2. Knowing Where Your Plants Come From

    When it comes to shopping plants online knowing where your plant is coming from can be challenging. As a consumer, not all companies are transparent in their supply chain to try and protect their network from the competition, but that doesn’t make it less important.

    When buying and selling plants online location is quite literally, EVERYTHING. If a plant is coming from overseas there is quite a bit of risk that the plant can pose to the North American ecosystems and consequently, you run the risk of the plant never being delivered.

    But, if the plants are coming from different parts of the country, chances are you’re going to get it. But that doesn’t mean you’re going to get it fast, or that it’s still in compliance. Different regions of the country have different regulations for compliance, because of their vulnerability and risk to their agriculture, businesses, and the environment. 

    A prime example of this is the state of California. They have so many different ecoregions within one state that some parts of the state can’t ship to the other. The different environments contribute to different pests, plants, and diseases posing a risk to the other plants in the other regions of the state.

    Before investing too much as a grower in your e-Commerce journey, make sure you’re already fully invested in the most up-to-date certifications and regulations for where you’re shipping.  

    Every state is different, and while you’re State Regulator may say that everything looks good, the destination state may have different ideas. It’s good practice to reach out to ensure you have everything you need.


    3. Applying Restrictions On The Site: Plant Sentry™ API 

    Believe it or not, despite everything we do in our business, we still have room for more! 

    Besides being a one-of-a-kind database for all of the regulation and compliance needs for the Garden Industry, we also have a modern technical approach to aid in protecting any type of plants. 

    Plant Sentry™ has developed a state-of-the-art API that can connect with the shopping cart feature on any e-Commerce website! The value that this tool can bring to your website is immeasurable. The API service uses the destination location of the plant against our database to ensure the customer request can be met, and saving you the hassle of managing restrictions. 

    If you’re a grower and would like to learn more about this feature, please reach out to us in our Contact Us section below and we will be happy to tell you more!

    4. Shipping Your Wide Selection of Plants

    Once you’ve nailed down your compliance and have Plant Sentry™ set up on your site, you’re pretty much ready to rock and roll. 

    But, there’s just ONE more thing.


    Shipping live plants is a delicate process and should be treated as such. During the pandemic carriers have been overwhelmed with record highs of packages, making traveling through the mail a bit more difficult for live goods.

    With that in mind, you want to make sure your packaging will keep your plants healthy and alive throughout their journey. With carriers sometimes taking anywhere from 1 to several extra days to make a delivery, set your business up for success and optimize your plant’s packaging.

    This includes making sure all required labels are easily accessible for officials and your packaging indicates fragile or live goods.

    5. The PPQ Mail Interception Dashboard

    As if we couldn’t give you enough tips to make you successful, the USDA’s APHIS team also has your back!

    In efforts to help combat unauthorized shipments of goods into the U.S., the USDA-Plant Protection & Quarantine (PPQ) team uses both specially trained detector dogs and their innovative PPQ Mail Interception Dashboard. Each of these services works to protect the people of the U.S. and prevent unauthorized shipments from making their way illegally through our country.

    The dashboard tracks and provides visual data on locations of the stopped packages, and provide unique insights into where the unpermitted shipment came from. The program aims to achieve turning this information gathered into ways that the agency can put a stop to the numerous mail pest pathways throughout the country. 

    So there you have it! In 5 easy steps, you too can launch your e-Commerce version of your business. Whether you’re looking to ship to Los Angeles or New York City, be sure to stop by our Contact Us page below to reach out for our help.




    Plant Sentry™ Fights Climate Change

    Plant Sentry™ Fights Climate Change


    These 2 words have encouraged, divided, and influenced the current generations of our time to take a long hard look at the world as we know it. As the human experience continues to change, climate change in recent years has become a part of it.

    I distinctly remember the first time I had heard the term “Climate Change.” It was the early 2000’s and Al Gore had just lost to George W. Bush for the president of the United States. Shortly after his loss, in 2006, Al Gore released “An Inconvenient Truth.” 

    At the time of its release, much of the American culture circulated around the tech boom taking place after Y2K and the excess of pop culture in a convenient way of life. But “An Inconvenient Truth” was the first introduction that I had to the ideas of climate change and more of the central focus of the film, global warming. 

    For many of the generations in the U.S. today, this documentary was the first big public conversation about the human environmental impact since the release of “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson in 1962. Years have passed since its release and the environmental culture has grown tremendously. Each of these pieces of media identified to certain individuals the need for action to restore our planet.

    But this article isn’t about how “An Inconvenient Truth” changed the way Americans humbly view climate change today. No, this article is about how the little changes, like “An Inconvenient Truth”’s release, in our day-to-day life influence our relationship with the environment.   

    You see, despite the continued progress of climate change and all of our new found scientific evidence surrounding it, there still seem to be numerous barriers between the conversation and the solutions. But, there doesn’t have to be.

    Every day, you and I make a multitude of decisions. From how we wake up in the morning, to how we go to bed at night, and in between are a million different decisions that have rippling, impactful consequences. In this article, I want to show you a decision that can not only make your life easier as a grower, seller, or consumer but can also make numerous tiny little decisions that create positive, rippling, changes to the environment.  

    In honor of Earth Day on April 22nd, 2021 we’re taking a different approach to the typical “doom & gloom” conversation of climate change and environmental issues. Today, we’re going to talk about how Plant Sentry™ fights climate change and how you as a consumer or grower can too!

    What is Climate Change?

    Now, I’ve thrown this term around a few times already in this article, but in case you haven’t Googled it yet, climate change is defined by NASA as a “long-term change in the average weather patterns that have come to define Earth’s local, regional and global climates.”

    In recent years you’ve most likely seen the term tossed around with other heavy-hitting environmental topics like greenhouse gases, degradation of the coral reefs, and rising sea levels. All of these topics are important independently, and all of them are solvable by addressing the problems of climate change.

    How Does Plant Sentry™ Fight Climate Change?

    At this point, you have to be asking yourself, how does a compliance regulations database help fight climate change? Well great question, and I have an even greater answer!

    Believe it or not, climate change is a very solvable problem, with very obvious solutions in some instances. But a part of the problem is that in order to make the corrections we need, we need everyone to make many tiny positive changes to their lives. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible for everyone to achieve. 

    In the Garden Industry regulatory compliance has been a long-standing issue with a wide variety of opinions and applications throughout the years. Part of the positive changes that the Garden Industry creates is by providing plants to various environments throughout the world. 

    As you may know, as a part of the photosynthesis process, plants capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and convert it into oxygen (O2).  One of the most important roles in the fight against climate change is carbon capture. The abundance of plants and their continued growth provides an important source of change for the battle against climate change.

    However, while plants provide many positive environmental benefits the challenge that the Garden Industry faces is the movement of those plants and how they impact other environments. This is where Plant Sentry™ comes in.

    Plant Sentry™’s role in the Garden Industry is to make navigating, utilizing, interpreting, and understanding the compliance regulations for inter- and intra- state shipping easier. With our tool, growers can spend less time and money navigating the volatility of compliance regulations and instead focus on other greenhouse operations. 

    But, wait, there’s more! The Plant Sentry™ team understands that these rules and regulations didn’t come without cause. Their origin in development was to help prevent the spread of plants that cause environmental impacts and protect the U.S. agricultural environments. Appreciating this foundation, we at Plant Sentry™ focus our efforts on 3 areas:

    -Invasive Plant Species

    -Invasive Pests

    -Invasive Plant Diseases

    Each one of these topics makes up the priority and expertise that Plant Sentry™ offers each and every one of our clients. So how does this relate to who buys the plant? Every Plant Sentry™ audited plant has been checked for invasive status, pests, and diseases to ensure you as a consumer get the healthiest and safest plant possible. 

    Healthy, compliant plants are a small, significant positive change in the environmental effects of human activities.  Just think about it, all of the alternatives to fossil fuels come from plants. When we look at reducing greenhouse gas emissions we consider plants more trees to offset the carbon emissions. Every single plant on this planet matters right now, and how healthy that plant is makes an even bigger difference.

    Here at Plant Sentry™ we continuously check our clients’ inventory to make sure they provide only the healthiest plants around. 

    How You Can Fight Climate Change

    Climate change can be an overwhelming topic, but it doesn’t have to be. There are a number of proactive ways that you can fight climate change for Earth Day 2021. 

    First, ask your favorite growers if they’re using Plant Sentry™! Again, the use of our services means healthier plants for your environment. So why wouldn’t you want to purchase plants approved by us?

    Second, be a curious consumer. If you want to make an environmental impact, remind yourself of your purchasing power! A number of the top competitors for some of our largest clients don’t follow federal regulations and openly admit it. Stop giving your money to companies that don’t have the same values as you do, there are other sellers.

    Third, calculate your carbon footprint! It’s important to gain perspective on where you’re starting so that you know where to go. Calculating your carbon footprint will give you generous insights into the number of tiny ways that you could help fight climate change.

    Fourth and finally, participate in Earth Day events this year! Earth Day only happens once a year. Even if you are overwhelmed or unsure where to start, Earth Day events provide great ways to get involved in your community and learn new things to move forward.

    Our team at Plant Sentry™ hopes that you will seriously consider our insights from today’s article for a brighter and greener future! 

    If you’d like to visit our clients and purchase their plants, stop by retailers that offer their goods!


    Why Native Plants Are Important

    Why Native Plants Are Important

    When looking around at our beloved Garden Industry there is an abundance of variety! But, during one month of the year, we pay special attention to one particular variety of plants…Native plants! 

    The month of April is Native Plant Appreciation Month and here at Plant Sentry™, we appreciate them tremendously!! 

    However, we understand that amongst the multitude of varieties in the Garden Industry, sometimes native varieties can pale in comparison and appear lackluster next to the latest exotic variety. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and when it comes to native plants, they behold many more benefits than just their beauty.

    As the fight against climate change continues, native plants have continued to gain popularity amongst gardeners. But, for some of the newer gardeners and industry members, the value that native plants have is not as clear to see. 

    As active members of our community, Plant Sentry™ understands that it is not always easy to see the value in a plant, but sometimes takes a little more time. That’s why this month, in honor of Native Plant Appreciation Month, we are going to share why native plants are important.

    What Are Native Plants

    While how a native plant is identified can vary depending on who you’re talking to, they are generally acknowledged as plants that are native species to their ecoregion. However, we think that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services express it best as to what a native plant is, “A species that, other than as a result of an introduction, historically occurred or currently occurs in that ecosystem.” 

    Native plants vary from ecoregion to ecoregion and what may be native in one part of the country, may not be native somewhere else. To assist you in identifying native plants in your region, the USDA PLANTS Database offers you access through their portal. You can find their database here:

    If the PLANTS Database is a little overwhelming for you to work with, another simple and easy approach is to use the National Wildlife Federation’s “Native Plant Finder”. You can find the easy to use finder here:

    The Value of Native Plants

    Now that you know what a native plant is, and how you can find them for your area, it’s time that we get to the meat and potatoes of this post and share with you the value of native plants!

    1. Native Plants do not require fertilizers and most often do not require pesticides either. This positively impacts your local environment and decreases potential stormwater pollution.

    2. Native plant species use less water than other plant varieties! This is another great benefit to your local environment, but also to your pocketbook. Less water usage saves money and resources!

    3. Native plants contribute to cleaner air quality! These plant species do not require mowing and absorb carbon in the atmosphere helping combat global warming and ultimately climate change. 

    4. Native Plants provide shelter and food for pollinators and other types of wildlife. This contribution is the greatest contribution! As the planet continues to face the increasing population of humans, maintaining a healthy pollinator and wildlife population will be the key to human survival. 

    Pollinators naturally pollinate plants by a number incomparable to that which a human could accomplish without them. Implementing a native garden is a great way to help promote the wildlife and pollinator populations, which include keystone species like the North American Bumblebee.

    5. In addition to promoting stewardship of natural habitats, native plants save money! Let’s face it, at the end of the day most of us are concerned about one thing, how much something costs. Native plants can help you save money through lower maintenance costs over other garden varieties.  According to the EMSWCD, over a 20 year period maintaining a native plantscape will cost $3,000 per acre versus $20,000 per acre for non-native plantscapes.

    So there you have it, native plants can add value to birds and other animals, as well as your pocketbook!

    Why Native Plants Are Important

    As you can see from the list of values that native species can add to your garden, there is a number of reasons why they are so important. But, just in case any bit of why they matter so much, slipped through the cracks, we’re going to briefly recap.

    As time continues to pass, and the world continues to change, humanity will continue to face choices that will positively impact the environment. Choosing to plant native species is one of those choices. It’s easy as a shopper to want the most unique and rare variety out there to make your garden look special. But, purchasing native plant varieties can add timeless beauty to your landscape while benefiting your environment. 

    Native plant species are sustainable and offer beauty as well as low cost of maintenance. They can provide life and shelter for a number of species that need sustainable ways to survive. With extensive root systems that aid in water consumption and soil quality, what’s important about native plants is that they provide more than just their beauty.

    Give your landscape the whole package, the better tomorrow, and the home for species who need it the most in the face of environmental disaster and plant native plants!






    Plant Sentry’s Spring Checklist

    Plant Sentry’s Spring Checklist

    Ready to get your Spring planting underway? Us too!

    There’s always a few important things that we like to remind ourselves of every Spring before we start planting and we thought this year, we’d share them with you.

    When it comes to planting your spring garden, you can never be too careful. Despite the simple and relaxing act of gardening, there’s a lot more to it than that. As always, Plant Sentry™ focuses on more of the little things that can quickly impact your gardening efforts.

    Here at Plant Sentry™, we know that the smallest changes can make the biggest impact on your garden efforts. That’s why we prioritize what we see as the BIG 3: Invasive Pests, Invasive Plants, and Plant Diseases.

    These 3 categories require patience and due diligence in order to be successful. But just how do you know you’re looking for the right things? That’s why we’re here! 

    So without further adieu here’s our Spring Checklist:

    1. Inspect the plant inside and out before you take it home! Check under the leaves and along the soil line for any pests.

    2.Check for any possible signs of disease. This can include leaf discoloration.

    3.Order plants for your growing zone. If you’re unsure what your zone is, visit the USDA’s website on growing zones

    4.Before making any purchases, check your State’s local list of invasive species in your area. 

    5.Plant with care and love! Plants are living just like you and me, a little bit of love goes a long way!

    Wishing you happy gardening!


    Plant Sentry Logo/Green & Black


    6 “Must-Knows” About Japanese Barberry

    6 “Must-Knows” About Japanese Barberry

    As the temperatures get warmer, if you’re here, you’ve undoubtedly begun to think about what you’re putting in your garden this Spring. One plant to watch out for is the Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii).

    This easy-to-spread invasive species originates from Japan and has been in the U.S. since 1875. The plant was first introduced as seeds to the state of Massachusetts and in 1896 was planted in the New York Botanic Garden. [1] 

    Originally the barberry shrub was seen as an excellent substitute for the European Barberry (Berberis vulgaris). The European version was originally used for jams and dyes, throughout much of the U.S. 

    It would be later discovered that this same popular version of the plant was a host for the Black Stem Rust found in the wheat crops. Looking for an alternative, the Japanese barberry was believed to be a positive solution to the problem of the European variety. Little did science know, this species would become one of the most invasive plants in the U.S.

    1. Invading Your Space

    Unfortunately for us, invasive species don’t currently have a ranking system, as they’re all very invasive. But, we’d bet our bottom dollar that chances are if there was a list, this plant would be at the top of it. 

    Japanese barberry currently can be found in 31 of the 50 United States of America. 

    As this plant is invasive to North America, it is quite literally invasive, everywhere that it grows throughout the U.S. 

    What makes Japanese barberry invasive isn’t just its ability to rapidly spread, like wildfire. But, the plant is a woody plant variety that overcrowds the native plants of our landscapes compromising various natural ecosystems throughout the U.S. 

    But, if that wasn’t enough, the species has adapted favorably to North American conditions and has proven incredibly resistant to biological controls that normally evolve to combat a plant like this. 

    Normally diseases and other plants would adapt to drive out the invasive plant biologically, but due to the resistance of the Japanese barberry natural competition and biological controls have been unsuccessful.

    2. Where It’s The Worst

    From what we’ve told you so far, the barberry invasion occurs in 31 of the 50 states throughout the U.S. But, that doesn’t mean that the invasive threat is the same in all 31 of those states. 

    Throughout the Northeastern part of the U.S. Japanese barberry is one of the most invasive plants in their environments. In states like New York, several cultivars of Japanese barberry are banned from sale and distribution to the state. 

    From Maine to North Carolina, these evergreen shrubs displace many of the herbaceous and woody natives in their area and wreak ecological havoc. Within these states, growers and sellers can expect a zero-tolerance policy to any possibility of Berberis thunbergii crossing their borders.

    But the toxicity of the spread isn’t limited to just the Northeastern portion of the U.S. Throughout the Midwest forested areas also struggle with the rapid spread of the Japanese barberry. The result too is heavy restrictions and education efforts to continually combat the invasive variety.

    Patches of Barberry and their types of removal methods in a forest.

    3. The Damages

    We’ve mentioned it a few times already, Japanese barberry has some serious adverse effects on their environments in the U.S. But it isn’t just crowding out natives, and being resistant to eradication efforts. 

    The cost to remove these plants from public and private landscapes ranges from $100-$200 per acre. This doesn’t include treatment or mechanical costs for removal. 

    Japanese barberry is causing American taxpayers and landowners millions of dollars to control and remove.

    In addition to all of the terrible things we’ve already mentioned about this plant, the leaf-litter from these plants, in large enough quantities, can change the pH level of the soil below them. 

    Collectively, the Japanese barberry can change the environment by making the soil more basic through its foliage, crowd out native plants, and resist eradication efforts through biological factors. 

    But if the biological effects weren’t enough, there’s even more damage that this invasive causes! Researchers have identified that areas with dense Japanese barberry populations also have a strong presence of black-legged ticks, known for transferring Lyme disease. [3]

    4. Flight of the Berries

    As with any invasive species, there are going to be challenges in removing the invasive from the environment. But, one challenge that makes removing this invasive from environments especially unique is how quickly it can spread. 

    Japanese barberry grows bright red berries amongst their leaves as a part of their “bloom.” And as luck would have it, birds really love these red berries! 

    One of the biggest challenges in preventing the spread of this species is that birds often eat the berries when they’re ripe and when they fly they poop the berry seeds back out and disperse them unknowingly. 

    Other animals also enjoy the berries of this green leaved shrub and contribute to the spread of their seeds. This has allowed the spread of this invasive to make its way from its origin of the Northeastern part of the U.S. all the way to Washington state.

    5. Goodbye and Good Riddance

    As we’ve explained there are challenges in removing this invasive species. Generally speaking, it could have been expected by now that a disease would have come along and afflicted the species weakening its viability. 

    Or perhaps evolution would have taken a stronger hold and natives within their heavily afflicted environments would have developed stronger resistance to the plant. But it appears that neither has occurred. 

    So, how do you get rid of the Japanese barberry?

    While the plants are young, they can be removed by hand. But, as the plant continues to grow the removal process becomes more difficult. Due to the sharp thorns of the plant, gloves should be worn to try and remove the plant by hand. 

    According to the PennState Extension office, removal of the plant can be accomplished by lawn mowing, but professional equipment is required. As a pretty tough plant, even smaller varieties are not easily mowed over. [2]

    Professional equipment will give you the power you need to be successful. The Extension office also recommends mowing the plant, should you choose this method, be done 3-6 times a year to successfully kill the plant. 

    The Japanese barberry can also be dug up and pulled out, but also require additional treatment once the plant is removed. PennState Extension recommends Dicamba, 2, 4-D or triclopyr for foliar herbicides. They also recommend that in late August and early September that glyphosate and triclopyr can be used on the stumps and branches of the plant as treatments. 

    At Plant Sentry™, while we support these recommendations, we encourage you to reach out to a professional for consultation and abide by legal labeling requirements.

    It has also been identified by researchers that propane torches are an excellent tool in combatting and treating this plant. In areas where herbicides are restricted burning of the plant can reduce the size of the plant and decrease mortality

    6.Not All Barberry Is Invasive

    As our extensive article about all the terrors and traumas of the Japanese barberry comes to a close, we’d like to finish off on a more positive note. Despite the invasive status of barberry plants within the U.S., there is a silver lining that is beginning to grow for those who love the way the plant looks, without risking the environment.

    In recent years botanists and researchers have developed barberry varieties that are classified as less invasive, or sterile. Such varieties that you can look for are the Crimson Cutie and the Concorde Barberry.

    The Crimson Cutie is a sterile variety, while the Concorde Barberry produces little to no seeds. 

    While the development and control methods surrounding Japanese barberry plants continue to change and grow, Plant Sentry™ encourages you to stay up to date with your regional restrictions and policies for the plant.

    If you’re looking for a little help to identify whether or not the Japanese Barberry has spread to your state, be sure to visit USDA Map showing what states and areas have been affected by the spread of this plant.












    5 Ways You Can Combat Invasive Species

    5 Ways You Can Combat Invasive Species

    Every year since 2010 the National Invasive Species Awareness Week (NISAW) takes place to encourage education and participation in efforts against invasive species throughout the U.S. The efforts are split into 2 weeks of the year so that NISAW has the opportunity to educate and practice 2 of the most important parts of battling invasives.

    The first part of NISAW takes place in late February and focuses on legislation and policies surrounding invasive species and their management. During another week in May, the NISAW resumes, focusing on outreach and education efforts. 

    During both weeks of NISAW, local community members and officials put their best foot forward in actions to remove invasive species and educate their communities on them. 

    In keeping up with doing our part, this week (and every day)  Plant Sentry™ will also be focusing on invasive species education and efforts to combat them.

    This leads us to here, in this wonderful blog where we’re going to cover 5 ways for you to combat invasive species in honor of National Invasive Species Awareness Week!

    1. Preventing the Spread

    When it comes to invasive species experts recognize that one of the best management practices is preventative measures. Too often invasives crowd out native plants and animals placing a strain on the natural resources of their environment.

    A major resource in preventing the spread of invasives has been educating community members on the dos and don’ts of their environment. A top resource and educator in these preventive measures has been the Play Clean Go project [1].

    Play Clean Go is an education program designed to bolster other education efforts in offering tips and tools (literally) to help prevent the spread of invasive species. PlayCleanGo recognizes that people spread invasive species and because of that, they can also help prevent the spread.

     As humans, we’re constantly on the go, and with the dirt and pieces of the environment that we move, so do the invasives with it. 

    We often unknowingly transfer invasive species with our travel and transport of items from one place to another. 

    Here’s How:

    1. The bottom of your shoes! 

    Say you’re up in the mountains hiking, but earlier that same week you were in a field full of invasive species. If you haven’t cleaned your shoes between trips, chances are you just transferred the invasive species to this mountain environment.

    It’s easy to think of the dirt on your shoes as just that, but if you’re tracking serious amounts of mud and dirt, there’s a chance you could be carrying an invasive.

    A great way to combat this type of spread is to clean your shoes between hikes, and every time you leave a different environment. Invasives cause tremendous amounts of damage in North America and it is up to each of us to do what we can to prevent their spread. 

    Does your shoe have hard-to-clean grooves? PlayCleanGo sells easy-to-pack and carry brushes that are perfect for picking mud and dirt out of those hard-to-reach grooves [2]. 

    2. Vehicle Tires!

    Much like the bottoms of your hiking boots, tires are filled with nice little nooks and crannies that are perfect for picking up invasive plant seeds and insects. A great way to help prevent the spread of these nuisances is to avoid taking your vehicle on unpaved roads and into areas where invasives have been sighted. While it can be challenging to resist the urge to go off-roading, doing so can protect your environment from unwanted destruction. 

    If you just can’t help yourself, be sure you clean the tires as well as possible before leaving the infected area.

    3. FIREWOOD!

    This is a big one! Firewood is a leading cause of the spread of invasive species. So much so, that many National and State parks throughout the country will not let you bring your own firewood when camping.

    Many invasive species are able to burrow and hide in cut wood and sustain harsh temperatures. As a result, when the wood is transferred to a new location, the invasives are given a new home and a new opportunity for destruction! 

    When camping or wanting to use firewood, purchase locally! The opportunity to buy firewood is never going to be too far from the opportunity to hike and camp. Pick some up from a local or nearby store and prevent the risk of spreading invasives!

    2. Identifying Invasive Species

    Now that you know a few tips on how to prevent the spread of invasives, you might be wondering what it is these invasives look like. Well, that’s a great wonder!

    The trouble with invasives is that they’re different for every state and every environment. Take Barberry (Berberis sp.) for example. While the majority of the Eastern part of the U.S. identifies it as a state-recognized invasive species, many states west of Indiana do not list it as invasive. 

    Knowing the list of invasives for each of the states you visit should be on your list of things to do if you plan on spending some time outside. [5] If you’re hiking in California, take a look at their invasives lists. If you’re visiting Florida, take a look at their invasives lists.

    Half the trouble with invasive species is that once they’ve arrived it can be challenging to locate each and every one of them roaming around their new environment. Identification and removal is a key effort in fighting invasives when they first arrive, so an extra set of eyes wouldn’t hurt!

    Prepared with a list of what to look for, if an invasive species is spotted you can report it to the necessary agencies that can come and remove it. [3]

    3. Educating Others

    Another part of the challenge in fighting against invasives isn’t just that they compete with native plants and species, but it’s also letting other people know! These newly introduced species often take hold early on in their new environments and community members aren’t given enough information about them. 

    Sometimes this is because we as a newly affected community don’t always know how they’re going to infect our environment, but also, because the word isn’t getting out.

    When it comes to invasive species, always share the information! Tell your friends and family members about them and ask them to report them if they’re sighted.

    Teamwork makes the dream for an invasive free habitat work! When in doubt refer back to the various experts that specialize in invasive species.

    4. Legislative Action

    As with anything that is going to affect your environment, some of the best actions you can take will be from the top of the regulatory food chain, legislation.

    While many of us hate to see it come to legislative action, sometimes strict enforcement of policy is necessary to get everyone on the same page. Laws and regulations that have been passed surrounding alien species are put in place to protect U.S. land and citizens. 

    When it comes to helping fight against invasive species, legislative actions can benefit your environment and make it more manageable for your local resources to beat them!

    5. Kicking Them Out!

    It’s pretty obvious at this point that invasive species just aren’t something that we want around. When it comes to getting rid of them, all the other steps before this will help in finding them, preventing them, and spreading them, but what about actually removing them?

    Throughout the U.S. volunteer efforts are put together so that you can get out and help remove invasive species! 

    There’s a number of different activities that you can participate in to help, but joining a local group or organization to clean up invasive species can make a big difference against invasives. Visit the USDA’s Take Action page for more information on getting involved in the removal of invasive species in your area.[4]

    A Job Well Done

     Every year the battle against these species costs the United States taxpayers millions of dollars in corrective and preventive action. With the tips from this blog, you should feel empowered and able to positively impact your community and their battle against invasive species. 

    Whether your area is fighting the Asian carp, the African snail, the brown tree snake, or the Asian longhorn beetle, there’s a way for you to stop their spread. 

    Throughout the next week and the warmer months to come I hope the tools we’ve given you today will encourage you to reach out in your community and fight invasive species, just like us at Plant Sentry™!








    For the Love of Plants: How Regulations Protect Your Garden

    For the Love of Plants: How Regulations Protect Your Garden

    It’s no secret that we love plants around this place. Everything that Plant Sentry does is for the love of plants! 

    But in some parts of the world loving plants is a secondary task. Too often the regulations set out to keep the very plants we love safe, take a back burner to the threats that surround them.

    There’s a lot that goes into protecting different plants and their well being! Did you know that some plants are so harmful that they can’t be in the same environment as other plants?

    As a means to try and protect plants from the threat they pose to one another, regulatory officials prohibit and regulate certain plants in certain parts of the country in hopes to protect natural ecosystems.

    Much like the efforts of Plant Sentry™, decision-makers keep the threats of invasive plants, pests, and diseases at the forefront of their considerations of what plants are safe, and which ones are not.

    So what goes into prohibiting a plant? How do regulators and officials decide which ones are safe and which ones are dangerous? 

    In today’s blog, we’re going to find answers to this very question.

    Identifying Invasive Relationships

    First thing is first when it comes to determining whether or not to prohibit a plant, officials have to determine whether or not the plant is an invasive species. 

    Invasive species overcrowd healthy plant populations and suppress their ability to grow successfully.

    By prohibiting invasive species regulators and growers are better able to protect current plants from their exposure. Invasive species have costly damages that no one wants to pay.

    Identifying invasive species quickly and early can save a whole lot of trouble later on. 

    Sometimes growers don’t realize that the plants they’re selling may be invasive. Sometimes, the consumer may not realize the plants they’re buying are invasive.

    If you’re unsure what plants are and aren’t invasive to your local environment visit the USDA Invasive Species Information Center.

    This site provides access to all 50 states’ lists of invasive species [1]. The more you know about the rules surrounding these species, the better you can protect your garden!

    A Negative Attraction

    Trying to predict the future and see if something could be prohibited later on? A great way to predict what plants may be up for new regulations is to keep an eye on the pests.

    While it is incredibly uncommon, plants can be prohibited or removed from environments simply because an invasive pest really likes them. 

    While it most certainly seems unfair to plant lovers, the harsh reality is that without stringent protection from these pests the plants we love would be lost anyway. As a result, many states will either discourage or prohibit the planting of certain species of plants in hopes of starving out the pests.

    Before the USDA moved to remove Federal Regulations on the Emerald Ash Borer, states spent millions of dollars combatting it!

    Many states kept a watchful eye on the pest, hoping to protect their beloved Ash trees and prevent an invasion of the EAB.

    In the state of Nebraska, one action of protection was to discourage the sale and movement of Ash trees within the state. The hopes were to slow down the spread of the invasive pest by limiting their resources. and still, keep the trees within the state.

    However, after the damages continued Nebraska decided to remove a lot of the trees. In many parts of the state, the damage has been so extensive that treatment isn’t possible and removal is the only option.

    Now, Ash trees in Nebraska are often removed throughout the state in efforts to starve out the EAB and hopefully regrow the Ash trees at a future date.

    Keeping a watchful eye on how pests affect plants can give you indications of whether or not you’ll want to purchase these plants for yourself. 

    With quarantine federal deregulation, it will be important to keep up with the state by state measures for the EAB that will develop over the next coming years.

    To learn more about how you may combat the Emerald Ash Borer and other invasive pests visit the USDA’s APHIS page [2].

    A-Noxious Behavior

    Another category that gets identified in lists of plants that can be prohibited is Noxious Weeds.

    Noxious weeds are identified as weeds that are harmful to the environment or animals. In the U.S. each of these weeds participates in the USDA’s APHIS Plant Protection and Quarantine Risk Assessment. 

    In this program, the APHIS PPQ evaluates each of the species of weed for their abilities to spread, establish, and cause harm to the U.S. environments. The assessments can be conducted for really any reason that may suggest a threat to the U.S.

    For many of these plant species, they overcrowd the native plants and radically change the local ecosystems. Many states independently identify Noxious Weeds within their environments and prohibit their sale or distribution within their borders in hopes of preventing their spread and threat. 

    To learn more about the plants on this list, and who’s on it visit the APHIS page for Noxious Weeds [3].

    Helping Healthy Plants 

    While many plants are restricted throughout the U.S., it doesn’t mean that they aren’t still sold or distributed. In the gray area of the Garden Industry, somewhere between not knowing better, and not caring, these plants are still sold to communities nationwide.

    As officials continue the uphill battle against these plants, some of the best methods of combat are community education and programs like Plant Sentry™.

    Much like the regulatory officials working hard to protect your environments, at Plant Sentry™ we know the damage these plants cause. We know that it takes a community effort to prevent the spread and sale of these species. This is why we work tirelessly to provide our clients with the tools and insights they need to protect themselves from these plants.

    Now that you understand a little bit more about why plants get prohibited, we hope that you too will share with your community to help prevent their spread!

    Important Resources: