The spring season prompts those of us who love our flower beds to peruse through the newest seed and plant catalogues to add new flowers, shrubs and ornamental grasses to our walkways, pots and landscaping!

However, problem weeds disguised as a pretty new addition to plant in your garden, could in fact be a noxious weed that isn't allowed in Manitoba.

I recently read an article written by Geralyn Wichers in the Manitoba Co-Operator titled "Garden Seeds Lead to Problem Weeds". The ornamental grass was named squirrel tail grass, but in actuality it was foxtail barley, a Tier 3 noxious weed in Manitoba, that creates havoc for cattle producers.  Foxtail barley can lodge like tiny slivers in the mouths of livestock and cause infection.

How did he know?  A comparison of their scientific names confirmed it.

Plants like purple loosestrife, baby's breath, the ox-eye daisy are just a handful of flowers thought to be a good idea at the time by someone, but they are now deemed noxious weeds under the Noxious Weeds Act and cannot be deliberately grown in Manitoba.  The same for foxtail barley.

It's important to note the pretty white daisy with the bright yellow center of the ox-eye daisy that can be seen in many ditches and meadows is still included in some wildflower seed packages. It could be mistaken for a native wildflower, but it's not.

Purple loosestrife is famous for chocking out native plants that can't compete. 

The more infamous purple loosestrife was introduced in a similar way, either through contaminated seed, soil used for ship ballast, or deliberately by beekeepers in the 19th century, according to the national Invasive Species Centre headquartered in Ontario. 

More flowers that we're very familiar with are also on the Tier 2 noxious weed list for Manitoba: periwinkle (vinca), queen anne's lace, and yellow clematis.  You might think growing wild parsnip, St. John's-wort would be a healthy addition to your kitchen garden but wait.  They're both on Manitoba's noxious weed list.

To see the list of common names and their scientific names of Manitoba's noxious weed list, click HERE, the Province of Manitoba's website.

Plant lovers in general should also be cautious when buying exotic plants.  Having them outside in the summertime and allowing them to go to seed could open up a pandora's box where there's no turning back once the wind picks those tiny seeds up and spreads them far and wide.

Applied Research Specialist for Westman Agricultural Diversification Organization with Manitoba Agriculture, Scott Chalmers, says the best way to tackle any plant that is growing aggressively in your garden or landscaping scheme should be dug up by the roots and discarded properly by burning.  He advises not to simply bring the dead plants to the dump as that can simply be transplanting your problem to the dump, where the plant will go to seed and reproduce.  

But first, Chalmers cautions gardeners to be familiar with the plants they're adding to their flower beds and be careful with what you're introducing from other parts of the country, or from another country.