Mulch Brings Invasive Plant to Highlands Grove

Chinese crown orchid

An invasive plant, Chinese crown orchid, was recently found in a Highlands County citrus grove, Laurie Hurner reported. Hurner, Highlands County Extension director and citrus Extension agent, said the orchid got into the grove via mulch.

“Some growers are using mulch around young trees to add a little more organic matter to our more sandy soils,” Hurner explains. “Other growers are using compost as well, which seems to be doing very well for them. One grower we had here recently put out some mulch around, again, young trees, and within a short time they had a pest plant, if you will, growing up in that mulch.”

Hurner says the invasive Chinese crown orchid is established in at least two Florida counties and is moved around a lot by mulch. “It’s been a one-time occurrence so far for us,” she says.

The only known way to get rid of the orchid is to pull it by hand.

Hurner explains the problem with having the Chinese crown orchid in a grove. “If you’ve got these orchids growing in and around your young trees, they’re fighting trees for nutrients and for water,” she says. “And it also is just one more thing growing that could bring pests or different diseases that we aren’t even aware of into the citrus groves.”

Hear more from Hurner:

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Ernie Neff

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large