Home Depot’s invasive plants destroy native species

The front of a Home Depot store.

Creative commons

The front of a Home Depot store.

The massive retail corporation The Home Depot, Inc. is selling and helping to spread over 34 species of invasive plants throughout the country. These are exotic plant species with the ability to grow and reproduce with such relentless vigor that they smother the indigenous flora, reducing a complex ecosystem to a single plant and causing a collapse of local biodiversity. 

Invasive plants used in landscaping quickly spread through seeds into nearby forests. They threaten the survival of native plant species that have been here for millions of years. Unlike most exotic plants, each native plant provides food and shelter to a variety of animals; the white oak, for example, is food for over 500 species of caterpillars and 180 species of birds and mammals. 

Almost 30% of the native plants in the U.S. are threatened with extinction. Invasive species have contributed to the decline of 42% of threatened and endangered species in the US. The country loses approximately $120 billion every year to invasive plants and removing them often requires the use of herbicides that pollute the water and soil. They can even cause carbon emissions by disrupting the soil ecosystem and causing a dieoff of microbes that decay and release carbon dioxide. 

Home Depot has contributed to all of this simply to make a profit from unknowing customers. The company’s website states that it is “always trying to do what’s right for the community and the environment,” but this is an obvious lie. It is actively destroying ecosystems by spreading these plants and making no genuine effort to stop selling them. 

As a major supplier of many products throughout North America, Home Depot has the power to influence what a great number of people are buying, and it is carelessly abusing this power. All it has to do is pull these plants out of its stores and replace them with non-invasive ones. Smaller businesses will soon follow Home Depot’s example if they are shown that customers want plants that do not destroy forests or starve wildlife.

A local Home Depot store on Hull Street Road sells at least four different species of invasive plants. One of these is nandina or heavenly bamboo, a shrub with highly toxic berries that kill songbirds. Another is wintercreeper, a very fast growing and adaptable vine that can smother trees. Others include burning bush and barberry. 

Home Depot did not respond to a request for an interview.

There is an easy way to help stop Home Depot from selling invasive plants. Lauren Taylor, a volunteer in Fairfax County who helps to remove invasive plants from the county’s forests, started a petition for Home Depot to remove all invasive plant species from its stores. The petition currently has over 70,200 signatures, and organizations like the Virginia Native Plant Society and the Urban Forest Alliance are supporting it.

More information and the petition is found at https://www.justsaynohomedepot.org.