Burnett: The danger of pesky plants that take over your entire yard

Have you ever been given a plant by a well-meaning friend and rue the day you planted it in your garden?

You are not alone. The fact is most of the time someone has a plant to give away because they have too many of them and just can’t bear to see their little darlings go into the compost.

The reason there are too many of them is they multiply like rabbits.

Of course I’m speaking of plants such as Aegopodium or gout weed. Now there is a hint, stay away from anything that has “weed” in its name.

Another plant that should be banished from this earth is Euphorbia myrsinites or donkey tail spurge.

Once this baby gets into your yard it will be there forever and, unfortunately, this plant will live without irrigation so it will naturalize and invade hillsides and meadows to the point it is the only thing you can see.

Some of these invasive plants come by accident such as the Lamium maculatum dead nettle that sometimes escapes from hanging baskets.

Sometimes a plant will arrive unannounced and just appear in the garden.

Beware of these sneaky little devils because if they come from nowhere they will take over in short order.

So, should a gardener never accept a thoughtful plant gift from a friend or neighbour?

Should we never leave any plant that arrives mysteriously in the garden to do its thing?

You just never know when something like that could become one of your favourite plants in the garden.

The key here is to learn to recognize a plant that misbehaves before it gets established and becomes difficult to manage.

I was once given some Jerusalem artichokes which I planted in my garden. Within a few weeks I had little sprouts coming up as far away as three meters all hooked to the original main tuber.

At that point I said “no thank you” and proceeded to dig them out. Easier said than done at that point.

But after chasing them down for a month or so I finally got the last of them.

If I had waited any longer I’m afraid I could have been in trouble.

A similar thing happened with some comfrey.

I recommend if you wish to grow anything like this to create a strong barrier between the plant and the rest of the garden. Put it in jail so to speak.

Perhaps in a barrel buried in the ground or in a container above ground.

Whenever you have a new plant in the garden, whether it is a volunteer, a gift or a new purchase from the garden centre, keep a close eye on it and watch for any indication it wants to take over.

It’s always easier to get rid of it in its early stages than it is after it gets established.

If there are any questionable plants already in your garden consider removing them before fall and winter because this is the time they can really root in which will present a real challenge in the spring.



Tune in to The Don Burnett Garden Show on AM 1150 News Talk Sports Saturdays from 8 to 10 a.m.


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