Have you ever planted a “pretty plant” that you wish you hadn’t? Show me any gardener that has not made that mistake at least once in their gardening career. When we start out, we tend to happily purchase any plant or accept free plants, don’t we? Free or not, squash your impulses and make it a habit to first research each plant before you put it in the ground. Even the prettiest plants can turn out to be the biggest nuisance in the long run.
Here are my top invasive, fast-spreading, and a nuisance to get rid of plants to avoid.
How did these plants make my list? First-hand experience!
What is important to note here is what is considered invasive, aggressive or a vigorous spreader in one zone may not necessarily be so in another gardening zone. Plants grow differently in different soils and climates. Another reason to do your research first or speak with the staff at your nursery.
Here is My List of What Not to Plant in Your Garden – Ever!
Periwinkle (Vinca minor). In my book, this one wins the 1st prize for being the most invasive plant, hands down. This groundcover is spreading rapidly and is incredibly invasive to plants nearby. I have just spent the last 4 weeks digging Vinca root from my flower beds. Not only is this plant invasive it only really looks good in the Spring. Eradicating this one is a challenge of its own. You will need to make several passes because it keeps popping up again just when you thought you got rid of it.
Morning Glory – Morning glory was first known in China for its medicinal uses, due to the laxative properties of its seeds. Most morning glory flowers unravel into full bloom in the early morning. The flowers usually start to fade a few hours before the “petals” start showing visible curling. They can quickly spread by way of long, creeping stems. By crowding out, blanketing, and smothering other plants, morning glory has turned into a serious invasive weed problem. This is one plant I will never ever plant again.
Mint – Mint is a wonderful herb to grow if you can grow it in a container. Never let it roam freely. It’s a great addition to food and drink, and is beautifully aromatic in a vase with other flowers. Its roots are seriously invasive and can spread throughout your garden in a weed-like manner if not contained, so do yourself a big favor and plant your mint in a container.
Bamboo – Bamboo’s hardness and rapid growth characteristics make it one of the world’s most renewable building resources. But that doesn’t necessarily make it a viable option for your garden. Before you know it, you’ll find your and possibly your neighbors yard overrun with a bamboo privacy screen that could take years to eradicate. If you must grow bamboo, do it in large landscaping planters. I once saw an abandoned home in Mississippi that got taken over by bamboo. It was quite a sight to see it grow in the middle of what used to be the living room.
Mimosa Tree – As much as I love this exotic-looking tree with its feathery, fern-like leaves and showy pink flowers – trust me when I say that you will not cultivate love with your neighbors. It is incredibly invasive and will spawn seedlings everywhere in your yard and throughout the neighborhood. Once it has taken hold, it’s nearly impossible to get rid of.
Crocosmia (montbretia) – Ugh, definitely not a favorite of mine. This spreads by underground runners. Once you have it you will be digging it out for a long, long time. I’m still dealing with it popping up four years later. I think this is another plant that just takes up so much space and doesn’t bloom long enough to be worth the effort of trying to clean up after it. The blooms are interesting, and make a nice addition to flower arrangements, but then again, not worth the effort.
Common Orange Ditch Lilies (hemerocallis vulva) – Not a big fan. I don’t want to offend anyone, because I know probably many of my readers have these in their gardens. Ditch Lilies are prolific spreaders and a devil to get out of your gardens. These probably belong in the invasive section, because they crowd out other plants.
Wisteria – I bet you did not expect to see this one on my list, but here it is. Wisteria, was a have to have for me with its brilliant, cascading purple blooms —but beware! Its root system can send shoots popping up far away from the main plant, engulfing trees, shrubs, and anything else in its way. It can live hundreds of years and requires serious pruning every year to keep it under control.
How to Avoid Invasive Plants
Most of the plants that made my list are also readily available at local gardening centers. So how on earth is a novice gardener, or even a seasoned gardener like me, supposed to avoid ending up with perennials that will take over your garden? My best advice is just to read up and ask questions before making a purchase or accepting the gift. If you see a plant you want always ask these questions:
- Is this plant a vigorous spreader or aggressive? If so, is it easy to weed out?
- Does this plant spread by underground runners?
- Is this plant invasive, or
- Google it
Another good rule of thumb to follow is, if a plant’s description references “wildflower,” or has “weed” in the name, beware. Also watch for the words: “vigorous spreader” or “aggressive grower.” Do your research and ask lots of questions. Just because one variety of a certain perennial is considered invasive or a vigorous spreader, doesn’t mean all varieties or species are invasive or overly vigorous spreaders.
It’s interesting to see what’s considered invasive or aggressive in different areas of the country or different gardening zones. I recommend doing your homework upfront and planning what plants you want to purchase for your garden. “Google” invasive plants in your state and see what comes up and make sure you don’t include those. Also, be sure to read the comments section to see what other plants readers have listed as plants not to grow in your garden.
There are several other perennials that others would call invasive or aggressive, but I did not include them on my list because they can be weeded out easily or I like them well enough to deal with them. These plants include: bee balm, lamium, ajuga, cherry bell campanula (and a few other varieties) and agastache.