It's bad luck to say 'Thank you' for a plant.
Better to say, 'I'll think of you when I see it.'
One proof of this is in the invasive nature of some perennials.
These are plants that make so much of themselves, so quickly that
they are the type most often given away.
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Beware these gifts. Quarantine gift
Perennials to avoid
Why invasive perennials become gifts, why
they're sold. Experts'
Eradicating an invasive plant: Weeding out running
You can add runners to our list; regarding
spreaders by seed
Caution and quarantine are in
Gardeners are probably the most generous people in the world, so
it's more the shame that their gift plants sometimes go very wrong.
So wrong that the common lore is, "It's bad luck to say thanks for
Some plants spread underground so quickly that the term "running
root" acquires new depth -- pun intended. Others are not so fast or
deep but still difficult to restrain. Some compound their wandering
with deviousness, such as owning roots both good at regenerating
and thin enough or so well camouflaged that they defy even the most
fastidious eradication effort.
These are not weeds -- their appearance put them on our shopping
list. Combine the gardener's quest for beauty and the behavior of
these plants and you arrive at our recommended strategy: Quarantine
Perennials to avoid if
"invasive" is not your bag
The plants on our list are in alpha order by common name, since
the scientific name rarely accompanies a plant passed over the
fence or at a plant swap. That makes the list longer since some
plants have multiple common names. We've cross referenced less
common to more common names. Count the scientific names for the
real total: 60 on this list.
Asterisks following the plant name indicate degree of
invasiveness -- more asterisks, more trouble.
"Just wait!" following the plant name indicates species that may
not run immediately.
"Bulb/corm" following the plant name means that not only roots
but a storage organ must be removed. Sometimes the roots break
easily from the bulb or corm and gardeners do not even realize they
have not removed it all.
Ajuga (A. repens)
Artemisia ludoviciana 'Silver Queen'
bamboo (see yellow groove bamboo, see dwarf bamboo, see Mexican
barren strawberry (Waldsteinia ternata)
bee balm (Monarda species)
bell towers (Campanula rapunculoides)*
bergamot (see bee balm)
birthwort (Aristolochia clematitis)**
bishop's weed (Aegopodium podagraria and A. p.
blackeye Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida var.
bloodred geranium (Geranium sanguineum)*
blue lyme grass (Elymus arenarius, Leymus
blue mist flower (see perennial ageratum)
Canada goldenrod (Solidago canadensis: also other running
canary reed grass (see ribbon grass)
Carolina lupine (Thermopsis caroliniana) Just wait!
chameleon plant (Houttuynia cordata 'Chameleon')***
Chinese lantern (Physalis alkekengi)***
creeping buttercup (Ranunculus repens)***
creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia and L. n.
ditch lilies (Hemerocallis fulva)**
dogtooth violet (see trout lily)
dwarf bamboo (Sasa pygmaea)**
false dragonshead (see obedient plant)
fawn lily (see trout lily)
field milkweed (see milkweed)
field poppy (Papaver perennial species)
fringed loosestrife (Lysimachia ciliata)
gardener's garters (see ribbon grass)
garlic chives (Allium tuberosum) bulb/corm
golden coins (see creeping Jenny)
gooseneck loosestrife (Lysimachia clethroides)*
goutweed (see bishop's weed)
grape hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum) bulb/corm
Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans)
Japanese anemone (Anemone x hybrida) Just wait
Japanese knotweed, dwarf knotweed (see Mexican bamboo)***
Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus)* Just
Lemon Queen perennial sunflower (see Jerusalem artichoke; hybrid
lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis)**
lilyturf (Liriope muscari)
manna grass (Glyceria maxima)
Mexican bamboo (Polygonum cuspidatum, also Reynoutria
milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)***
monkey grass (see lilyturf)
muskingum sedge (Carex muskingumensis)
myrtle (Vinca minor)**
obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana)
orange wild daylilies (see ditch lily)
oregano (Origanum marjorana)
ostrich fern (Matteucia struthiopteris)*
Pachysandra (P. terminalis)
peachleaf bellflower (Campanula persicifolia) Just
perennial ageratum (Conoclinum caerulea)
pink day primrose (see showy primrose)
Pink Panda strawberry (Fragaria 'Pink Panda')*
purple leaf fringed loosestrife ( Lysimachia ciliata
queen of the prairie (Filipendula rubra)
ribbon grass (Phalaris arundinacea 'Picta')*
sensitive fern (Onoclea sensibilis)*
showy primrose (Oenethera speciosa)***
snow on the mountain (see bishop's weed)
spearmint (Mentha spicata)
speckled adder (see trout lily)
spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana)
squill (Scilla sibirica) bulb/corm
star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum)
trout lily (Erythronium canadensis) bulb/corm
trumpet vine (Campsis radicans)***
violets (Viola sororia, V. papilionacea)
windflower (See woodland anemone)
Wisteria (Wisteria species) Just wait.
woodland anemone (Anemone sylvestris & A.
wormwood, variegated wormwood (Artemisia vulgaris
yellow groove bamboo (Phyllostachys aureosulcata)**
yellow archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdelon)**
yellow flag (Iris pseudacorus)
yellow loosestrife, variegated yellow loosestrife (Lysimachia
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Why the bad plant becomes a
How does it happen that a plant esteemed by Gardener A becomes
Gardener B's worst nightmare? We've spent a lot of time thinking
about it -- it passes the time when we do tedious work such as
digging out invasive plants!
- They're pretty, or native, attract wildlife or fulfill another
- Sometimes a plant is shared early, before its
invasiveness becomes apparent.
- Some people are surprisingly tolerant of bad behavior.
- Invasive plants often make good groundcover.
- Large properties often need aggressive, colonizing plants.
- Plants can be invasive in one environment, restrained in
Some plants are real demons, but are so
pretty there's a lot of demand for them. We growers have to carry
them. So we sell them with a warning!
- Karen Bovio -
Invasive? Sure, it can be. We told
you that. But isn't it otherwise all that you asked for?
- Janet -
When I had a small yard I had to be
so careful of what I let loose in there. I tell people if someone
offers you a perennial, ask them 'Why?" If they say 'because I have
so much of it,' well there you go, there's your warning!
- Deb Hall -
Expand our list
Is there a perennial that comes to people as a gift which should
be on this list, but isn't here? Send us an email to
info@GardenAtoZ.com. We'll amend our list.
Please note: There is another category of perennials initially
invited that become pests: Those that spread by seed. We'll make a
separate list of those.
Weeding out running perennials
Weeding out plants with running roots? To oust, evict, remove,
eradicate an invasive perennial, groundcover or suckering
It's the same as any weed war. Observe the plant's method of
multiplying, then be persistent.
Click here for our all-plant
We have previously posted some specific words of advice
regarding the eviction of:
Bethlehem in What's Coming Up 34, page 8
chameleon Houttuynia in What's Coming Up 143,
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