In Your Garden: Garden Invaders


Snow-on-the-Mountain. This looks so innocent. The leaves are variegated white and green, but it is a real monster.  It spreads like oil on water with deep discouragingly brittle roots that run. Dig until you are exhausted and five minutes later, it is off in a new spot.  Run for the Roundup.

Another root spreader is ostrich fern. While it is a great plant for the north side of a house with an ugly foundation, in a year or two, it will be off and running.

The common daylily, a ditch flower if ever there was one, is another root spreader. Not only does she run, but as soon as she is done blooming, all you have left is a chunk of long ribbon-like leaves.

Gooseneck loosestrife, has very loose ideas of where it belongs. It spreads by roots, and any farmer can tell you that loosestrife is the name of a weed.

Then there are the seed spreaders.  They start out innocent enough. That is, until you find their babies popping up in every uncovered bit of soil. Ornamental fountain grass, (Pennistetum alopecuroides) popped out of its bed in Noerenberg Gardens on Lake Minnetonka and invaded the lawn.

Squire House Gardens, another professional garden had problems with plume poppy. It is quite a spectacular plant, tall and big leaved. It took a five foot leap and crawled into a bed of iris. They fought its sisters all summer.

An even more obstinate plant they had to deal with was a giant butterbur. It hopped seven feet, across a path no less. They dug and sprayed that one for two years before they got rid of it.

While blue or white clips campanula are quite delightful, but some of its cousins are out right criminals.  One looks like a chicken’s drumstick. Bright blue and quite attractive, but give it a home and it is “home on the range”.   It’s very difficult to get rid of.  Brush killer might do it.

Another is tall and skinny with blue bells on a stalk. These spread by roots and hides a tuber deep underground.

The  innocent sounding hardy geranium is another sneaker. It’s short so it can hide in taller plants. You may not even notice it until it blooms either pink or blue.

Even if you must insult the giver, avoid these plants at all cost. Also beware if you see large clumps of a pretty bloomer. She may be a “Nasty Nancy” wanting every bit of soil she can get her roots into.

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