Photo by Melody
It's time now to VOTE in our 14th annual photo contest! Voting ends November 7, so be sure to cast your votes for your favorites in each category here. Good luck to all contestants!

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time, or, Unfortunate Planting Decisions

By Toni Leland (tonilelandJune 10, 2014
bookmark

No matter how long one has been gardening, one can make mistakes. I'm not talking about digging a hole in the wrong place, or too deep, or too shallow, or forgetting to water the flower beds, or over-fertilizing. I'm talking about those impulsive, emotional decisions when it comes to choosing plants for the garden. I have fallen into the trap several times and I'm here to share my experience in the hopes that you, dear reader, will not make these mistakes. (You can probably dream up a few of your very own!)

Gardening picture

Some of the prettiest plants available can be a nightmare. I’m talking about plants that are so prolific they take over any garden space within a hundred yards. The correct term for these plants is invasive, but unfortunately they are SOLD by nurseries and greenhouses to unsuspecting customers who have the “perfect spot”.

I’ll start with my own worst nightmare: Goutweed (Aegopodium podagraria)

 gout garden

This is a small bed where I put "a couple" of cuttings one year ago!  

 

In my defense, I did not plant this gem on my property—it was already there. But so pretty, with its white edged green leaves and lovely umbrellas of white flowers. It grows in sun or shade, damp or dry, good or bad soil, so—I dug some up and put it in other beds. That was two years ago. At this writing, my property is swimming in Goutweed, a sea of the stuff, with only a few hardy “real” plants peeking through.

Goutweed is sold as a ground cover known as Snow-on-the-Mountain; other names for this obnoxious plant are Bishop’s goutweed and Bishop’s weed. It is classified as invasive in several states (Connecticut, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Wisconsin), and shows wide distribution throughout the Northeast, South, parts of the Midwest, and the Pacific Northwest. It’s only positive attribute, other than a pretty face, is that deer and rabbits do not like it.

Removing Goutweed from your landscape is an almost impossible task. The plant not only reseeds heavily, it spreads by rhizomes, easily filling up two to three feet of garden space in a couple of months. Goutweed is known to be aleopathic, which means it produces toxins to reduce the vigor of its neighbors, much like the black walnut tree. Hand-pulling is ineffective because every little piece of root you leave behind turns into another plant. Chemical control is the method of choice in all the literature; however, given the manner in which Goutweed works its way into your existing plants, using herbicides is not an option unless you’re willing to dig up everything you want to keep before applying the chemical. In some instances, this might be the only way you’ll win the battle.

For the naturalists in the audience, Goutweed has anti-rheumatic, diuretic, sedative, and vulnerary properties and has a long history of medicinal use dating back to the Middle Ages; it is used little by modern herbalists. As its name implies, the plant was used for gout, rheumatism, and sciatica.

Next on my hit list: Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)

 hyssop1

        Anise hyssop has gorgeous chartreuse heart-shaped leaves.

 

I fell in love with this fragrant plant and simply had to have one. Blazing chartreuse leaves in great profusion, a fast grower, and the final display of gorgeous lavender-blue flower heads was my reward. The bees and butterflies loved this plant and I did too. Until the following spring.

I had NO idea that every seed the plant produced would grow! By mid-June, my front garden was filled with at least 20 full-sized plants (2 feet tall). The seeds sprouted in the brickwork, in the crack in the driveway, in the drainage ditch, across the street, in my neighbor’s rock garden. The plants even grow on TOP of the landscape fabric, working their thread-like roots into the mulch.

Anise hyssop is a perennial member of the mint family, but the fragrance and taste of the leaves and flowers is that of anise, or licorice. The plant thrives in full sun, but will tolerate some shade; well drained soil and not much water make this plant an easy grower. This beautiful plant is one that must be watched carefully. Once the flowers are finished: cut. them. off!

 cranesbill

                Cranesbill Geranium's beauty is short-lived.

Another inherited bugaboo: Cranesbill Geranium

I admit that when I first saw the rocky bank filled with feathery green foliage, I was enchanted. In a few weeks, the plants were covered with lovely bright pink flowers and I thought I had the perfect plant for an area that took brutal sun, no water, and a direct hit from the wind during storms. What I didn’t know was that Cranesbill spreads quickly, pushing its woody roots through the hardest clay soil and anchoring its roots so deeply that pruning shears are required to trim the plant back.

Then the flowers faded and the interesting seed pods shaped like crane bills appeared. Then the foliage grew lanky and dark, shedding leaves and opening up bare spots, into which weed seeds settled and sprouted. In no time, weeds and grasses were growing up through the Cranesbill foliage, defying all attempts to pull them out of the tangled mess below. Shearing tidied up the looks, but the weeds were still there. At the end of summer, the plants rallied briefly, producing a few blooms, then turned dark red-brown and retired for the winter.

Cranesbill is a popular plant in many areas, and it seems to need little to keep it happy. Several descriptions of Cranesbill stated that it helped to keep weeds down, however, my experience is the opposite. If using this plant, be sure to place it in a location where it won’t infringe on other specimens, and be prepared to stay on top of the weeds that take refuge in its tangled body.

My own fault: Morning Glories & Goldenrod

 glories

                 Morning Glories are wonderful in the right spot.


I love the experience of poking a seed into the soil and watching it push through, curling into a tiny two-leaved plant that will end up like the picture on the seed packet. My grandma had morning glories on her back fence and so, when I found myself with a white picket fence, of course I had to have Morning Glories. These versatile climbers are beautiful and today’s varieties come in a glorious array of colors, some even two-tones. But their habit has never changed. They grow fast, grab whatever they can reach, and bloom profusely throughout the season.

Then they drop their seeds. Everywhere. The birds and chipmunks carry the seeds around and drop them. Everywhere. And in the spring, the Morning Glories are—Everywhere.

I don’t know of any way to avoid the dozens of seedlings that come up before you see them. I simply pull the ones that are in a spot not of my liking, and leave the others to grow. I recently found several vines working their way up the branches of a lilac bush. I think it will be lovely when they bloom, and they certainly aren’t going to hurt the lilac.

 golden

          Goldenrod makes a bold statement in late summer.

The Goldenrod is quite another matter. A year ago, I purchased three plants that grew 5 feet tall and provided us with magnificent sprays of yellow flowers. Butterflies and bees covered these blooms all through late summer and early fall. I’m a big believer in providing food for the birds, so I left the plants as a feast for the winter birds. Big mistake. Goldenrod’s vigor is frightening when it comes to proliferation of seed, with estimates of 20,000 seeds per each flowering stem. I have been pulling these myriad seedlings since early April and there is no end in sight. Too bad, birds. This year, you’ll have just have to visit the feeder.

Many Goldenrod species are considered invasive, and the plant is often confused with flowering ragweeds (Ambrosia spp.) which cause allergy misery. Goldenrod contains polyterpene latex and can cause irritation in individuals with latex sensitivity.

Forewarned is Forearmed

Before integrating any plant into your landscape, learn all you can about it. If you inherit specimens, as I did, be smart (as I wasn’t!) and make sure you want to deal with that plant in the future.

NOW--anyone want to share planting disasters?

(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on June 23, 2010. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to promptly respond to new questions or comments.)  

 


  About Toni Leland  
Toni LelandToni Leland has been writing for over 20 years. As a spokesman for the Ohio State University Master Gardener program, she has written a biweekly newspaper column and is the editor of the Muskingum County MG newsletter, Connections; she currently writes for GRIT, Over the Back Fence, and Country Living magazines. She has been a gardener all her life, working soil all over the world. In her day job, she scripts and produces educational DVDs about caring for Miniature Horses, writes and edits books about them, and has published five novels.

  Helpful links  
Share on Facebook Share on Stumbleupon

[ Mail this article | Print this article ]

» Read articles about: Invasives And Weeds

» Read more articles written by Toni Leland

« Check out our past articles!



Discussion about this article:
SubjectTopic StarterRepliesViewsLast Post
4 O'clocks FlaFlower 2 15 Jul 6, 2014 5:03 PM
Invasiveness is the eye of the beholder kmm44 0 1 Jul 2, 2014 7:24 AM
Goutweed and others katsu 0 1 Jun 28, 2014 8:17 AM
Four years later... pastapicker 1 2 Jun 21, 2014 9:31 AM
Trumpet Vine, Giant Catmint hamptons 2 25 Jun 18, 2014 3:49 PM
groundcover ivy dirtface 2 22 Jun 17, 2014 9:23 AM
Lest we forget....The Japanese Anemone MaddieK 7 175 Jun 17, 2014 9:16 AM
Lambs Ear FLStu 2 14 Jun 17, 2014 8:16 AM
Perennial Peas. Everywhere. AmyInNH 0 1 Jun 17, 2014 7:27 AM
Foxglove! Jeanio1111 0 1 Jun 17, 2014 5:20 AM
Now this is invasive! raccoon52 0 9 Jun 17, 2014 12:33 AM
Poison Ivy Twice as Strong as 1960s hamptons 0 2 Jun 16, 2014 9:36 PM
morning glory madness palmbob 17 347 Jun 16, 2014 9:18 PM
Clethra (Summersweet, Pepper Bush) hamptons 0 2 Jun 16, 2014 9:00 PM
gold-leaved Agastache Loligo 4 55 Jun 16, 2014 8:54 PM
Funny how different plants can 'behave' cedar18 13 236 Jun 16, 2014 8:21 PM
I overcame Bishop's Weed ballyshannon 0 5 Jun 16, 2014 6:21 PM
creeping myrtle dordee 0 3 Jun 16, 2014 2:01 PM
You hit quite a nerve! SoooSirius 0 4 Jun 16, 2014 12:10 PM
Bittersweet! gingerlily1216 0 6 Jun 16, 2014 6:39 AM
Lysimachia nummularia and Comfrey goulot 1 7 Jun 16, 2014 6:27 AM
Convallaria majalis and Allium 'Hair' momlady 0 14 Jun 10, 2014 6:27 AM
eryngium and yarrow, AKA Devil Plants Dollykat 6 144 Aug 6, 2013 8:02 PM
campanula glomerata jrgardens 3 65 May 16, 2011 6:27 AM
morning glories txhousewife 0 16 Mar 12, 2011 5:08 PM
Fight Goutweed with acidic soil cakesjean 2 64 Mar 8, 2011 6:12 PM
Chameleon plant CritterResistor 3 70 Mar 8, 2011 5:52 AM
One for me 3pmp 3 45 Mar 7, 2011 1:45 PM
Tips to Help Steer Clear of Invasives Nature_Nut 0 56 Mar 7, 2011 12:39 PM
Invasive plants grubbypaws 1 45 Mar 7, 2011 11:13 AM
The nightmare ground cover patsdogs 1 94 Mar 7, 2011 9:53 AM
Crownvetch bluejays31 1 32 Mar 7, 2011 9:49 AM
Northwest Nightmare Rickf44 1 44 Mar 7, 2011 9:48 AM
Will goutweed conquer garlic mustard? Kerni 1 28 Mar 7, 2011 9:47 AM
Passion Vine mollydog1 1 45 Mar 7, 2011 8:28 AM
Invasive plants in the UK 2salvia 0 17 Mar 7, 2011 8:13 AM
Invasive plants BDoster 4 108 Mar 7, 2011 7:49 AM
overly zealous plants..... seagulldaisey 0 33 Mar 7, 2011 7:34 AM
Goutweed was docile but now fights ivy ridahoan 0 20 Mar 7, 2011 6:46 AM
California Poppy YakimaBelle 2 61 Mar 7, 2011 6:42 AM
My list of pernicious plants plantaholic186 2 163 Mar 7, 2011 6:39 AM
You saw my garden, didn't you? pastapicker 1 102 Mar 7, 2011 5:44 AM
Asian Jasmine cr0ak 1 55 Mar 7, 2011 4:41 AM
rudbeckia Indian Summer and violets gail48 2 95 Mar 7, 2011 3:56 AM
In defense of . . . colonizers LariAnn 8 197 Aug 16, 2010 7:53 PM
vinca vine - morning glories... soothemysoul 1 62 Aug 5, 2010 5:38 PM
Goutweed -" worst nightmare" is right! squirejohn 1 54 Aug 5, 2010 5:09 PM
Invasive Plants omasuziq 1 43 Jul 2, 2010 4:14 AM
Round-up and foam brush method Dollykat 0 68 Jun 30, 2010 7:36 PM
*Fairly* successful goutweed eradication bluemoonmama 1 58 Jun 30, 2010 7:20 PM
You cannot post until you login.


We recommend Firefox
Overwhelmed? There's a lot to see here. Try starting at our homepage.

[ Home | About | Advertise | Media Kit | Mission | Featured Companies | Submit an Article | Terms of Use | Tour | Rules | Privacy Policy | Contact Us ]

Back to the top

Copyright © 2000-2014 Dave's Garden, an Internet Brands company. All Rights Reserved.
 

Hope for America