Perennials are a fantastic, low-maintenance investment for flower gardeners. Plant them once and they’ll return year after year. However, some perennials are a little too good at their job and can quickly take over your flowerbed and crawl into your lawn. What you thought was a low-maintenance plant can quickly become your worst nightmare.
Previously, I published a post on the 30 perennials you’ll regret planting in Zone 2 and Zone 3. This post is a list I’ve compiled from readers in warmer climates of perennials, vines, and a few self-seeding annuals that can quickly get out of control. Please note that I have not planted most of these and am using the experiences and suggestions of others to inform this post.
What is an invasive perennial in one area, might not even be possible to grow in another. When in doubt, google your province or state plus the term “list of invasive plants.” And remember: one gardener’s invasive perennial is another gardener’s favourite flower. If you love it, plant it. Don’t let some gardening-blogger-on-the-internet stop you!
If you’re sweating at the thought of all these perennials you have to avoid, here’s a video on 20 of the ones you’ll love instead:
Vines of Misery
Sure, these vines may look beautiful, but they can strip paint when removed, clog your gutters, take over trees, and even survive salted ground and dog pee.
1. Bittersweet Nightshade Vine
Seems to be a trend with purple flowering plants…
I can personally attest to the ferociousness of this vine. During a good growing year it would climb the entire height of our antenna! I can only imagine what it would do in an area warmer than Zone 3.
4. Ivy and English Ivy
Stories of terror include peeling paint off a house and surviving both salt and dog pee.
5. Passionflower Vine
This vine is super invasive in Texas–a place where most of the flowers on my previous list are impossible to grow. Think about that for a moment.
6. Puncture Vine
Don’t let those sweet yellow flowers fool you.
7. Sweet Potato Vine
If you live in a very warm area like Zone 8 or 9, beware! This vining cousin of the edible Sweet Potato plant grows rapidly in high heat.
8. Sweet Autumn Clematis
Yes, the multitude of white blooms are gorgeous, but require a lot of maintenance to keep under control.
9. Vinca Minor/LESSER Periwinkle
Thank your lucky stars if you live in a colder area of North America, because it won’t be invasive for you.
10. Vinca Major/BIGLEAF Periwinkle
Same as above, only with larger blooms and foliage.
Sure, they look gorgeous, but this vine is not for the low maintenance gardener. More than one reader has tales of an unchecked Wisteria vine destroying pergolas and climbing into neighbouring trees within 5 years.
So what vines are good to plant? One reader suggests Star Jasmine, Pink Jasmine, Banks Rose and Tangerine Beauty. If you want even more, check out my list of my 53 favourite perennials you need to plant now.
Herbs Gone Wild
I personally love chives, so I’m okay with them growing a lot. It’s a joy to be able to share some with friends. If you want to stop your chive plant from growing, remove all the purple flowers before they go to seed.
14. Creeping Thyme
Any plant that has the word “creeping” in its name is bound to be a problem.
Feverfew looks like a Daisy and it’s medicinal use is primarily for headaches and migraines. Not to be confused with the Feverfew used for cut flowers.
Chocolate Mint, Mojito Mint, Spearmint, you name it. If it has the word mint in it, plant it in a pot unless you want it to take over your lawn.
17. St. John’s Wort
Fun fact: the name of the plant comes from it’s usual blooming time of around June 24th, the feast of St. John. It’s also used for many medicinal purposes. Not so fun fact: it will grow everywhere in short order.
Self-Seeding Annual Flowers
Mirabilis means wonderful in Latin. These flowers are wonderful to look at, but horrible for self-seeding themselves everywhere.
20. Wishbone Flower
If it has Weed in the name…
You really should know better, right? Here are a couple offenders:
21. Bindweed/Morning Glory
I grew up all my life referring to this plant as “Pilgerweed” because my Dad got this plant from a friend in Pilger and it invaded a good portion of our lawn on the farm. No small feat when your lawn takes 4 hours to mow on a riding mower.
To be fair, I actually kind of like this one. The purple flowers really cheer up my weedy lawn.
23. Japanese Knotweed
Beware the Birdseed
If your bird feeder is over your lawn, either invest in good quality seed that doesn’t contain alfalfa as a filler, or put your bird feeder over a location with cement on the ground. If you don’t, you could end up with some unexpected surprises.
Perennial Flowers You’ll Regret Planting
25. Bouncing Betty/Soapwort
Bouncing Betty gets its cute name from an early pioneer who left cuttings of Soapwort as she travelled across America. Soapwort was used as a natural laundry soap, so she was doing all the future families who would arrive in her location a huge favour. Now? Maybe not so much.
26. Chameleon Plant
The Chameleon Plant can be green with white flowers as shown, or more commonly, with red rimmed and green centred leaves. They’re very pretty, but can quickly take over a yard.
Columbine isn’t a problem where I live, but it is a self seeder and can really go to town in warmer climates.
I laughed out loud when I researched this plant and the first variety I stumbled upon was called Lucifer. Make of that what you will.
29. Crown Vetch
Helpful for stopping erosion, but not so helpful in your flower bed.
Gooseneck is part of the Loosestrife family, and like it’s purple cousin, it has a dangerous spreading habit.
31. Bishop’s hood/Jack in the pulpit
A very intriguing shade plant.
32. Lamb’s Ears
Lamb’s Ears are lovely in a children’s garden or a sensory garden, but can take over said garden in warmer growing zones.
A popular old-fashioned perennial. This one is also highly poisonous, so do not plant it if you have any pets or kids.
There are many varieties of Primrose, and not all are invasive. The hardy Yellow Cowslip variety is a prolific self-seeder. One reader laments that “the more you pull them up, the faster they spread.”
35. Obedient Plant
Obedient Plants may behave in your flower arrangement, but they certainly don’t behave in the garden. They’re a flowering member of the Mint family, so no surprises there. Obedient Plants also use the alias Dragonhead flowers, as they resemble Snapdragons.
36. Jacob’s Ladder/Polemonium
Another beautiful perennial that self-seeds like there’s no tomorrow.
37. Black Eyed Susan/Rudbeckia
Some varieties are more well behaved than others. Despite the spreading habit, they provide a welcome hit of colour for a long stretch in the summer.
38. Scotch Broom
39. Snow on the Mountain
This plant is extremely poisonous. It retains its poison even after it dies. Do not plant if you have small children or pets.
Sometimes called Widow’s Tears… maybe because you’ll cry if you plant them?
Violets sometimes also go by the name Jenny Jump Ups or Johnny Jump Ups. Whatever you call them, they can be a little surprise in your lawn that’s hard to get rid of.
42. Chamisa/RUBBER RabbitBRush
43. Rose of Sharon
Rose of Sharon is not actually a rose, but a member of the Mallow family. It’s a prolific self seeder, but is prized in the South Eastern United States because it can tolerate the intense heat.
45. Ribbon Grass
Ribbon Grass is so beautiful, but over time will work it’s way into your other grass and is hard to get rid of.
46. RUNNING Bamboo
Bamboo is excellent in it’s natural habitat. In your home garden? Not so much.
47. Horsetail Reed
Similar to bamboo and just as much if not more work to keep it where you want it.
Only in Texas
48. Prickly Pear Cactus
An edible cactus with a spreading habit. In colder climates this cactus does not spread. In really cold places, like where I live, they make adorable house plants.
Phewf, that was a long list! If you don’t see your most hated perennial on this list, check back to my original list of 30. Still not there? Head down to the comments and tell me about it!
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