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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Invasive Plants

What is an invasive plant? For that matter, what is a weed? Is it just a plant that grows in a spot you don't want it to grow in?

Some plants reseed easily such as the charming Viola 'Bowles Black' and the unusual yellow blooming Sedum aizoon 'Lemon Snowflakes'. Does the fact that they self sow make them invasive? At one time I thought I had too much 'Lemon Snowflakes' but now I have hardly any of them here at all.

What about all the little creeping Sedums such as Sedum acre? They creep into little cracks and crevices and I just adore them all.

The dark purple plant in this photo is Eupatorium rugosum 'Chocolate'. It is a total thug. It is also absolutely beautiful. What do you do with this plant? In my garden I have only myself to blame as I begged a friend for multiple pieces.

I refuse to pull it all out as I do so love the foliage color but I've learned to never let it get as dense as you see in this photo. Once it establishes itself like this it has a root system that you need a pick ax to get through. I let single pieces of it emerge in spots though and then try the year after to remove a few of the runners so there's only bits and pieces around here.

My poor mom was given the job of attacking a massive patch of this plant. One thing in it's favor, it will grow in full sun and also grow in dense shade.

There's quite a few plants growing in my garden that people might consider "invasive". The Lysimachia clethroides (Gooseneck loosestrife) seen in the backdrop here is one of them. I have had this plant contained in a spot of the garden for many years but this year I see it has finally broke free of it's underground prison.

Yesterday I pulled up some of the stray runners, they come up easily and so I decided to leave a few behind.

When it comes to potting these plants up for sale, I don't know what to do. Many times people tell me that they have a tough spot where they can't get anything to grow. I have some excellent, beautiful perennials that would fit the bill but I still hesitate to share the wealth.

What do you think? Do you grow plants like these and do you share pieces of them?


Creative Country Mom said...

Depends on the person I guess. If they know the work involved, then yes, but if they are a plant it and forget it person, no. I have a friend with 40 feet of black-eyed susan. She had other things at one time, but these are all she has now. So, it depends! Lol.... I have some speedwell, and I like it in it's place. I love violas, but have big tough things around them, so they cannot take over. Great post! ~Brooke

Doris the Great said...

So far, I haven't come across any thugs. I did plant a few that began to get out of control(Campanula and Sweet Woodruff). But just into the 2nd year, a more experienced gardener warned me about them; so, I keep them in select spots. I'm fortunate in that I have a little "forest" next to me and I'm doubting anything will get too wild in the poor soil and poor light conditions. (We'll see!!)

I think it's entirely up to the gardener whether they're planted or not. But I wouldn't sell them on the roadside to inexperienced gardeners unless you write labels detailing their wild nature.

Helen said...


You never know what will happen with a plant and how "invasive" it will become. In some of the toughest spots in my dry, sandy, mostly shade garden, I have planted all kinds of invasives, hoping they will tough it out, including goutweed. They all bit the dust.

A neighbour gave me some obedient plant -- similar to the goose-neck loostrife in its colonizing habits. Elsewhere. Not in my garden. You'd need a magifying glass to find it.

So I'd say, pot them up and give them out: with a strong caveat.

Helen of Toronto Gardens

Ellie Mae's Cottage said...

I have dead nettle that I planted in my garden and I love. It has nice color and pretty purple flowers. A lot of people consider it evasive. I do control it though. I also have Lily of the Valley, which a lot of people love, but it's all over the place in my garden and I'm constantly pulling it up. It's a personal choice and I think it's best to just do whatever makes you happy. -Jackie

Sheila said...

I agree, some of my favorite plants would be listed as invasive, but when you have a lot of tough terrain to cover, they are a blessing! I would take those little violets any day!

Chandrika said...

Just curious about where are you located. Could we just come by to see your garden.
Also, since you sell plants too,I could pick up a few as well.


Melanie said...

Thanks for the great advice! I do have some pots of aggressive growers potted up and I will certainly explain their growth habits to any customers interested in them.

Doris, just had to tell you that I was born in Canada, I have family in Wedgeport NS, my middle name is Doris and I have daughters :-)

Chandrika if you click on the link to my other blog Melanie's Perennials (it's on the right hand side of this blog) you'll find my address. We're in south Huntington, Long Island and my front gardens are always open for touring if I'm open for business. We hope to open the back gardens too in two weeks for a formal "open garden" day.

Tatyana said...

I planted Bishops weed exactly for this reason - to put in the spot where nothing else grows. And Vinka...
Good post, thank you!

Gail said...

Melanie~~ I was just this morning contemplating removing a fall blooming anemone...I like the leaves but it smothers all in its path. Once it's gone the heuchera and other beauties will shine. I have a native euphatorium that is next to impossible to get rid of ...I would make sure the buyer knows what he/she is getting, then you have a happy repeat customer. Have a great day, gail

Anonymous said...

Melanie - First off I have to tell you that I LOVE your website. It lets me be in the garden when I'm stuck at work!

I agree with everyone else. As long as people know what they are getting into then why not allow some of these beautiful "invasive" plants to shine in their garden. I've got LOTS of plants that are considered invasive. When they start overstepping their boundries they are treated as weeds. I love pulling the MINT weeds! smells so good.

Melanie said...

Mmmm, I love the smell of mint too! I have some potted up for sale but most people are afraid of it.

I grow my mint in pots that don't shatter over winter and it does just fine. I know where it is when I need it and want some in my iced tea :-)

Fran said...

I work in a plant nursery in MD. We do our best not to sell species that, if a seed or rhizome escaped from a garden, would take over a wetland, leaving nothing for local fauna to eat.
"A rhizomatous spreader that could be a problem if it escapes into natural areas is Gooseneck
Loosestrife Lysimachia clethroides. It is a very
invasive spreader in the garden; it does not set seed but can “run” quite a distance. Its use is
strongly cautioned, especially near natural wetlands."
- Alan Branhagen, Director of Horticulture