I never thought I would say that I regretted buying some plants. When I first started with perennials and herbs, I couldn’t wait to grow them. I wanted all kinds: tall ones and ground covers, yellow flowers and pink flowers, shady and sun-loving. Give me all the flowers! I found out very quick that our light sandy ground did not grow things like I had planned. I worked very hard to build up the ground through mulch, compost, manure and even purchased black dirt. But still I had troubles growing many things.
If I heard a plant was “almost impossible to kill”, or that it “spread like crazy”, I would immediately buy it. If it thrived in good soil, surely it would at least survive in mine. As the years have passed, I have found plants that work well for me. Maybe I can’t have that astilbe that I really wanted, but there are other plants that I can grow and enjoy. However, I have some regretful purchases and plantings that I want to share with you. If you do not have any of the following plants in your yard yet, I caution you to think real hard about your decision to do so.
1. Lady Bells (Adenophora Confusa)
First on my list is something that I bought a very long time ago. Lady Bells grow in shade and sun, although in deep shade they do not bloom well. The bell-shaped blooms are a blue-purple and last for a couple of weeks in July. They were pretty enough, but I soon found that these plants were hard to keep in one place.
Some growers advertise that these plants are “easy keepers” and that “gardeners in the south may find that a little goes a long way”. I’m not really sure how these plants spread, but I find them all over the flower bed where the main plant is growing. It is difficult to pull up all the roots of the little plants that I usually found coming up between the roots of hostas and other shady plants.
2. Bouncing Bet (Common soapwort)
This plant was a gift to me. I liked the common name of Bouncing Bet and the little simple white flowers were really sweet. It is called Soapwort because the thick roots have saponins in them and can be used as a soap substitute. These thick roots are what makes the plant indestructible, breaking into pieces when you try to pull the plants up. They also spread quickly underground similar to a mint plant, but are harder to pull. I stopped cultivating this plant more than a decade ago but am still battling the roots near my garden and at the edge of the woods.
I believe this plant was also a gift (I’ve got to stop receiving gifts!). Spiderworts have thick tall stems and grass-like leaves. Their flowers are unique and each only lasts one day. They also have some serious thick and ugly root systems. Based on the look of the roots, I have always wondered if that is where the “spider” in their name comes from. This plant usually needs to be dug up with a shovel very carefully to remove it from a location where it doesn’t belong. I have stopped officially cultivating this plant also but it hasn’t given up on me. I spent a couple hours digging it out again this year.
On the Better Homes and Gardens website, Spiderwort is described as “resilient”, “extremely forgiving”, and “have no problem multiplying”. What a sneaky way to say this plant will turn into a weedy problem all over your yard!
4. Lily of the Valley
I love this plant and really hate to include it on this list. I was so excited to finally get some of these plants: their greenery stays short and very nice all season and the tiny little bell flowers are so sweet. Two of them were planted beneath a tree where I wanted them to fill in.
Not only has this plant filled in under the tree where it was planted, it has defied all laws of physics and keeps popping up in the farthest reaches of my lawn. It has even shown up on the opposite side of our driveway with roots extending under the gravel.
5. Ground Ivy or Creeping Charlie
This nasty weed is included on my list even though I didn’t actually intend to plant it and I certainly never purchased it. I remember seeing it for the first time in the dirt of a perennial that was given to me from a friend. I pulled it out thinking that it was probably a weed and I’m pretty sure I just tossed it. From that one simple act, ground ivy has now taken over everything.
From the mint family, this noxious weed spreads by running stems that have nodes where the leaves are. Each of these nodes can potentially become a new plant. When you till your garden or mow your lawn, the stems are broken up and each one will root and grow like crazy. These plants have very shallow roots, basically growing on top of anything, sucking the moisture and nutrients away from other plants.
The only way I have found to eradicate this weed is to pull it up, dry it in the sun, and burn it up. It is a constant battle to pull them up before they take over everything else. Apparently there are uses for this weed, but it is a mystery to me.
It’s interesting to note that my goats and my chickens won’t touch anything on this list, in fact many of these plants are toxic to goats. I don’t like having plants near them that may make them sick. If you have animals, make sure you research what types of plants may poison them and don’t allow them to be on your property. You might have the best fence, but accidents do happen and they might escape and head right for the plants that you don’t want them to eat (ask me how I know!!)
I love digging in the dirt and growing things. If I can keep up with the plants on this list, I feel very accomplished! I have also learned my lesson and look a little more closely at what I am bringing onto our property. I hope you will reconsider before you buy any of these plants.