Garden Talk: Your Garden Mistakes

Philadelphia, PA(Zone 6b)

Since many of us are preparing the garden for another season, I thought it would be interesting for us to share our past garden mistakes so others, including ourselves, can learn from what we did wrong. Ok, I'll go

Last year we had a pool put in the back property. We had so much sand left over from the project, that after giving a lot of it away, we were still stuck with piles of the stuff. My DH noticed that I was mixing compost/manure around in the garden areas, so he decided to incorporate ALL of the very fine sand into the new garden beds, following in my compost tradition. After a few hard rains, I realized that the sand piles were gone (the stuff ran down the driveway when it rained) and I asked DH who took all of the sand. He very proudly mentioned that it was all mixed into the soil in the new gardens! I think I almost passed out at that What I found in the garden, as a result, were beds of almost concrete-like soil which were hardened by the fine sand. Let's just say I'm still trying to get over it!
Trish :)

Saint Louis, MO(Zone 5b)


That is funny and not so funny. His heart was in the right place. I'm glad my DH doesn't help me in the garden! That sounds like something he would do.

Last summer I made the mistake of growing morning glories too close to my neighbors' fence. The vines loved that fence. I don't think she liked the vines though!


Troy, VA(Zone 7a)

When I was a rookie gardener, I planted the Russian vine (mile-a-minute vine). It took off like a rocket in no time and looked lovely festooning an old garden shed, but it started to make its way through the wood siding of the shed. I couldn't get rid of it. In the end there was only one thing to do - dig the plant up and get it to heck out of my garden! Trish:- I will remember your story and disregard the advice to incorporate sand into my clay soil!!

This message was edited Saturday, Mar 24th 3:34 PM

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

Tick Seed Coreopsis. One of the biggest garden thugs I have ever come across. Bought three cute little 4" pots of it, and by the next summer, I was pulling it out by the shovelfull. I didn't even try to give away the divisions to friends, because I try to be a nicer friend than that!

I've since learned to read between the lines of plant descriptions, and think twice about planting anything described as a vigorous grower. Unless I can put a bunch of aggressive growers together in one bed and let them duke it out.

Joshua Tree, CA(Zone 8b)

I have had some disasterous mistakes, and some good ones. The tall sweet allysum has taken over my garden. But is a welcome freind. It insulates more tender plants in the winter. And it looks like white clouds next to my roses and perrenials. Also works as a living mulch. The mistake I have finally learned not to make is to buy just anything at the local Walmart, or Local nursery. Just because they sell it does not mean it is the best thing to grow! The humidity is so low here. A Tropical plant is sure to die. And has. And anything acid loving. Desert soil is so alkaline . I can not grow and have tried more than once. Gardenia, Hydrangea, Delphinium, Foxglove, Azalea and the like. If the soil doesnt support them, the heat and lack of humidity will.
And these water lovers, made my Aug/Sept bill of 1998 $220.00!!!!

(Zone 7a)

Solidago canadensis "Golden Baby" from Park's. I remember what a proud mother I was when it was born...a whole flat. This was just last summer. This spring, it is running rampant in the garden...I, too, am removing it as fast as my fingers, shovel, and daughter can. It has been removed from my trade list and I want to warn anyone that I may have traded with it, DON'T plant it. Unless it's way down in the north 40 where you don't plan on trying to civilize it. Although I have never seen so many different insects pollinating one plant (probably at least 20 different kind at a single time, if not more) this is no garden gem.

Wayland, KY(Zone 6a)

Approximately 20 years ago a flash flood washed a small ivy type plant onto our property. At that time I thought it would make a good erosion control plant for growing along the creek that borders our property. This plant turned out to be 'Creeping Charlie', a thug ground ivy. I'm still battling this plant.

Bay City, MI(Zone 6a)

I agree with Bluejay-creping charlie is running rampant in my new garden and Ive got to try to get rid of it ALL this year-its a crazy lil plant!

Westbrook, ME(Zone 5a)

Here's some of mine that pop into my head. I can probably come up with hundreds more if I really think about it.

1. Planting comphrey smack in the front of my herb garden
2. Tilling over Jerusalem artichokes
3. Using hay as a winter mulch (weed's every where)
4. Planting tender things out before the last frost date

Lake Toxaway, NC(Zone 7a)

I just learned today that I shouldn't use nitrogen on iris.

Scotia, CA(Zone 9b)

When I moved here a couple years ago I started clearing out the brambles and poison oak. But in one area there was a small spot covered by a large leafed ground cover that had a lovely glossy green color that I liked. Wanting to save anything worth saving I fertilized and watered it faithfully. It spread far and wide and I was quite pleased. Then it flowered tiny little delicate flowers and I was thrilled! then it went to seed...Burrs! I found out from a neighbor that they call it goat weed. It is next to impossible to get rid of. I am still pulling it up, spraying it and my husband is still laughing at my marvelous gardening expertise!

Moorestown, NJ(Zone 7b)

Chocolate mint and plains coreopsis were my biggest mistakes. Trollius is another, although that's been moved to another part of the yard (it totally took over my front garden in less than 6 months!).....and while beautiful (buttercup/ranucula-type yellow flowers), it was totally invasive. Now watch it not live in the new location where I don't care if it takes over! :-)

No one told me how invasive mint was.......I am still pulling this stuff out of my rose garden, and yes, it is STILL on my trade list (anyone want some??)....I promise it will come with appropriate warnings! As for the plains coreopsis, only time will tell if I've ridded my garden of it!

Like Poppysue, I know there's many other boo-boo's I've made, but can't think of them at the moment.

Troy, VA(Zone 7a)

Mom - Try planting your mint in a bottomless bucket or container and sink it into the ground, it should not become invasive then :-)

Richmond Hill, GA(Zone 8b)

I'm holding up my hand! Here's another mint mistake right here! Before I found out how invasive mint was, I planted some in the middle of one of my raised vegetable gardens. What a terrible mistake!!! It took me years to get rid of it all.

OMG! I just thought of something else stupid I did!!! This is really baaaaaaad. ROFL!!! The time goes back to one of my very first gardens, (No, I'm not telling you how long ago! LOL) I got very frustrated as I was trying to dig up the grass for my new garden spot...VERY frustrated. Besides the grass problem, there were ants everywhere and they were biting me. I got soooooo mad that I got a can of gasoline and poured it all over the garden spot and lit a match. I know, I know that was very, very stupid. Not to mention ruining my soil, I almost burnt the whole fence down. Know you all know the awful truth!


(Zone 7a)

I used to have an invasive mint problem until 3 years ago when it stopped raining and the grasshoppers came to visit. They ate the whole patch and I've now only got two containers (6" pots) of it left that I managed to salvage. If the grasshoppers come back this year, I'll be more than glad to box up a bunch and send your way. Would any of you like to send some chocolate mint this way? They might like a taste change this season...

Santa Barbara, CA

I let a friend talk me into planting Mexican Portulaca (vertelaga?) which she said was a favorite soup and salad green with the hispanic community. Well, I never sold much, gave away a lot and the original small planting is still giving!!! [weeping he is at this point]. In this subtropical region this succulent groundcover is impossible to irradicate -- thousands of seeds from each flower, all parts of the plant roots so you can't till it in, the seeds live a long time, the plants inhibit other seeds from germinating it seems.

I bought bird seed which contained wild onion seed which does very well around here although I was told by my local county ag comm fellow that it was not a weed here...NOT! A prolific weed crowding everything else out -- numerous seed, bulbs and pups, never quits. Even the birds won't eat the seed, nor snails the leaves.


Crestview, FL(Zone 7b)

Removed by member request

Moorestown, NJ(Zone 7b)

Lantana - if you want chocolate mint, email me. I still have plenty left! If I'd known BEFORE I planted it to put it in a bucket or pot, I wouldn't have it running rampant through my cottage/rose garden!

At least I don't feel quite as dumb, knowing others have made this same mistake. I SHOULD have remembered all the cussin' my mom did when she mistakenly planted spearmint in her front garden bed! But the years have taken its toll on my memory (my son says I have "Swiss Cheese Brain"), and it wasn't until AFTER the mint took over (almost overnight too, I swear!), did I remember mom's laments!

Pete2 -- thanks for making me feel better.....having moved from SC, I am very familiar with those *%*(#@&!^ ants....(I am assuming you're talking fire ants!)........battled many of those for a "hole" for my roses back in Charleston! But never did I light them (or me!) on fire! haha! Thanks for making me laugh!!

What a great idea for a thread.....I sure do hope some newbies are learning from our mistakes!

Scotia, CA(Zone 9b)

This Newbe is learning a lot! I just bought some mint and I am going to take all your advice and just keep it in a pot! In fact I think I'll set in a pot on concrete...I have enough to do pulling my original mistake out!

Don't feel bad, Pete2. I did the same thing with gasoline way back in my pre-teen days - burned my hand nicely.

A mistake I made last year: Planting snap peas in July in Atlanta. Needless to say, they did not produce very well.

Deep South Coastal, TX(Zone 10a)

Planting pink Oenothera speciosa in my flower bed. I swear it spread 10 feet in all directions and even went under a building and came out on the other side!! It took about 5 years to get those out of my garden and every now and then I still find a plant. I even piled 3 feet of compost on top of the stuff trying to kill it and it grew thru the top of the pile. When I spread the compost, I also spread bits of the plant that grew everywhere.
I have a friend that spread a whole package of seeds in her small flowerbed against my advice. Now her whole yard is pink primrose!! She said she would listen the next time I gave her advice!!
I remember my mom planting spearmint in her garden. I hoped pineapple mint would be different, guess what, it's not!! Sometimes we never learn.
I bought a plant called "Obedient Plant" , physotegia, it's not "obedient". It took over a flowerbed in no time. Still pulling it out.

Saint Louis, MO(Zone 5b)

I'm glad I'm "wathcing this thread". I'm really learning a lot.

I knew the mint was a fast spreader. I was warned last year by my sister. I had my spearmint in a pot all summer long. It didn't winter over very well for me and it died. :-( I've got a few seeds here to start some more though. I really like spearmint tea.

I didn't know about the plains coreopsis or the primrose. Is all primrose that invasive or just certain varieties? Same thing with the coreopsis? I have several varieties of seeds of the coreopsis.

I didn't spread the bird seed around, but under the feeder I had that "corn like" plant come up too. It was easy to pull out and get rid of.

This is a good thread to be watching!

Deep South Coastal, TX(Zone 10a)

Lots of the Oenothera are invasive. I have Oenothera Missouriensis that isn't invasive, but have found the pink and white ones to be pretty bad. Also a yellow one that is tall and spreads by runners.

Saint Louis, MO(Zone 5b)


Thanks for the information. I've got some seeds for the Missouri primrose. So that's a "go" on those seeds for me.

I'm happy to be finding out all of this information BEFORE I plant the seeds and the plants.


Lake Oswego, OR(Zone 8a)

I've been battling mint for years also. I have a surprising plant turning up from here to the hinterlands this year: Cerinthe. During the summer it is a pretty little shrub, but just a bee magnet...the bush is constantly humming. I guess they must take some seed with them because it is everywhere. I also expected it to be an annual, but we have had a fairly warm winter in Oregon. I will be digging all the volunteers and making a bed...they make nice cut flower foliage, sort of a gray green succulent look.

[ Removed per member request. - Admin]

Moorestown, NJ(Zone 7b)

Patty -- if you're talking about wood ashes from a fireplace, then that doesn't work in my garden (that's where I put all mine) roses love the ashes, but it doesn't phase the mint that is in there.

As for the Missouri pink primrose being invasive, ya'll, what is considered 'invasive' in one's mind, may not be in another. I planted the pink evening primrose in my front garden (put a whole packet of seeds out there), and yes, I've had to do some thinning, but I think it's pretty......I adore all those pink blooms.........I guess one gardener's "treasure" is another's "weed".

I do have to admit that this is the case of the Plains Coreopsis with me......I just don't care for it and it tends to self seed everywhere! I rip it up and it just comes back somewhere else. I wish I had this luck with the other coreopsis' I've the rosea and the moonbeam! No such luck!

[ Removed per member request. - Admin]

Powhatan, VA(Zone 6b)

Hi everyone,

Just thought I would add my two cents. I work for a garden center, so buyer beware if the label says vigorous grower, most likely means invasive!

I have made the mint mistake with catmint. I almost lost my rosemary as it crowed out the plant. Pretty as it is, I just yanked it up before it totally took over. My biggest problem is a small yard, so some mistakes included plants that get too big, for example comfrey, malva, oh yes and those darn red raspberry bushes. I have been giving those away at work.

I must say, I did enjoy the plants while I had them, just did not have the room for them. I need a farm!


Moorestown, NJ(Zone 7b)

Sally -- I'd love your red raspberries....have just the place for them along my back fence (keeps the neighbor kids off my wire fence!!!!!). Plus, I adore raspberries! :-) Again, one gardener's "weed" is another's "treasure"! :-)

Richmond Hill, GA(Zone 8b)

I just went shopping yesterday and bought all kinds of wonderful smelling mints! Don't worry, I won't be planting them directly in the garden again! LOL

Yup, they were fire ants, mom24cats. Ouch! Those little suckers can really put a hurtin on you. I'm not sure which I have more trouble with... the fire ants or the millions of huge, biting, black/brown grasshoppers I have to deal with every summer. :(


Bodrum, Turkey(Zone 10a)

I've had the mint nightmare, but here's one I havent seen posted: Parsley......egads....I have it all over the place, we've eaten eat it (as much as we can), given it away, finally last weekend I decided it had to go. It has totally taken over a spot right under the faucet/hose, on the walkway, between walking stones,in my flower beds, they are hard to get rid of, I sprayed round up on it, and it hasnt even phased it... Now to remember not to eat any of it. I'm going to have to go out there and pull them all up - but they are everywhere...I loved it at first, I could just run outside and cut down a handfull of parsley and I was happy as a clam, now I cant look at it without thinking I have to get out there and weed before it spreads anymore.

Moorestown, NJ(Zone 7b)

Pebble I don't know how you got so lucky - the swallowtail caterpillars ate every piece of my parsley last year! Didn't get a single piece of it! And rather than "weed" your parsley - trade it! SASE it! I'm sure there's lots of gardeners here at DG that would love to have some!!

Terri -- do you have scars from those #_$&@! fire ants too? I remember them biting me through my support hose nylons when I was stationed at Charleston AFB and used to have to go out to put up the marquee signs each week! OUCH! The only thing I hate more than fireants are the scorpions in OK!!

Menahga, MN(Zone 3b)

Years ago, I had a lovely little strawberry patch of fifty plants. Well, if fifty was nice, why not plant those runners that I kept breaking off. So....I had about 200 new plants and put straw on as a mulch. What a mess...straw had weeds in, 200 plants sent out hundreds more runners, and didn't produce as much as the original patch!

Bad mistake lately was moneywort taking over flowerbeds. It stayed very nicely as edging for two years, then in that typical perennial fashion, leaped the third year!

Philadelphia, PA(Zone 6b)

Ok, I feel another mistake coming on Yesterday as I was out clearing the front garden and cutting back the ornamental grasses, I noticed some different new growth coming up from the soil, which made me think twice about something. Last year I planted some vinca vine to hang over a small wooden wall. I know this vine can be aggressive but I thought I had it in check. The new growth coming up around the miscanthus and pampas grass now is vinca vine from 20 feet away!

Joshua Tree, CA(Zone 8b)

You See . Here we go again. Being a Desert Gardener, what you say is bad . Is Good here. Invasive agressive plants, make it in a dry isolated spot out in my yard!I have the Evening Desert Primrose here. I guess where there is no water and no humidity for the plant to search.It just maintains it self. I have mint planted on the ground . No problem. I bought portaluca last summer. Died. Too hostile here!!
Something totally off the subject. Every morning for the last week. I have heard the birds in my Oasis Zone outside my bedroom window , Roses and Perrenials, Just as the sun is coming up. They are so loud , they wake me up.(I do not have a large tree They get so loud. I have heard the bugs are out and the moisture , attracts the Robins here, They make a LOT of noise , in a feeding frenzy. I have heard of this. And that the sounds are stimulating to your plants. Has anyone heard about this?
Tomorrow morning listen for the birds. About an hour later you will notice is much quietier.

Montrose, PA(Zone 5a)

I TO HAD A GREAT TIME WITH MISSOURI pink primrose> In fact I still haven't got rid of all of it and it's been four years since I planted it! But it sort of nice when there's just a plant here and there.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

I am not sure what oneothera I have here... I think it was labeled 'japanese primrose'. It has partial shade so it leans out, but has spread very little, and I love it! I do have to take a few out of the garden path on the sunny side, but worth it for the lovely pink flowers.

As to catnip or catmint, mine never gets very large as the two housecats love to lie upon it, chewing fresh leaves! For some reason, they seem not to like the leaves that I dry (assuming any survive).


Powhatan, VA(Zone 6b)

The cats will tear up the catnip, but catmint doesn't attract them. My "Fluffy" was in the catnip today. I am surprised there is any left. lol


Rockford, IL(Zone 4a)

I am in the middle of my worst gardening mistake right now... trying to do too much! This will be my third season gardening, and right now I have 8 flats full of baby foxgloves, datura, tomatoes, cerinthe, jacob's ladder, lettuce, broccoli, (this list could go on forever, but I'll stop here!), as well as 2 flats or seedlings at school. I know I'll have to repot some soon, and I'm not sure where they're going to go, as the space under the shoplights is already maxed out. Our last frost date is May 15th, need I say more? Luckily, a friend just purchased a house, so most of my "extras" can go to her, provided I can keep them until then!

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