Gardeners Worst Nightmares: 28 Perennials You'll Regret Planting | Shifting Roots

Gardeners Worst Nightmares: 28 Perennials You’ll Regret Planting

Perennial plants are a good investment.  Plant once and have flowers that bloom for years.  However, some plants that seem innocent enough literally take over the garden and quickly spiral out of control.  Others bloom for such a short time that they don’t seem worth the trouble.  Here’s a list of 28 perennials I’d rather not see in my next garden.

Disclaimer: This post contains plants that are problematic in USDA hardiness zones 2 and 3.  Some of these plants may not be problematic in your area.  If you have difficult growing conditions, you’ll want to put these plants on your next shopping list.  🙂 

Disclaimer #2: Just because your favourite plant is on this list doesn’t mean it is “bad” or you shouldn’t plant it. This list is intended for brand new gardeners who think these plants are low maintenance, then aren’t able to keep up with them when they get out of hand. I just wanted to spare them some heartache until they get better at gardening and are able to keep up with any more aggressive plants.

This post also contains affiliate links.  If you purchase something from my link, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. You can read more about it in my Privacy Policy.  Thanks!

The Invaders

1. Lily of the Valley

Hated by experienced gardeners everywhere, it’s best to confine this one to a pot if you can.

2. Anemone

Plant only if you like running around in circles trying to contain it.

3. Yarrow

I love yarrow, especially for making floral arrangements all summer long.  However, it will spread to your lawn and is very difficult to get out.

4. Ferns

If you’ve read this blog any amount of time, you know I really dislike ferns.  Last year I removed at least 100 from our yard, and this year I’m already at 22.  (I’ve only cleaned out the area that I worked on last year. . . grr.)  They look beautiful, but if you want to remove them it takes a lot of muscle power.  I recommend using a hand-held garden tiller like this one.

Update: I counted and kept track this season and I pulled out 218.  Yes, you read that correctly. . .218 ferns.


Curious about what’s in my backyard?  Check out what we started with and this years progress on our urban garden.

5. Lady Bells/Bellflower/Campanula

These are EVERYWHERE in my overgrown backyard and they are driving me crazy.  However, I’ve had decent luck keeping them under control since I dug up most of them last year.  This tied for most hated perennial in my local gardening Facebook group.

6. Daisies

Just don’t.  Yes, they are pretty, but they’ll be out of control within 3 years.

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7. Chinese Lanterns

I LOVE my Chinese lanterns, but they are slowly taking over my lawn.  The roots travel just below the surface, so chemicals are the only way to get them under control.

Related: 6 Truths New Gardeners Need to Know

8. Lemon Mint (Beebalm)

A beautiful herb that is so aggressive it will grow in gravel.  Enough said.

9. Goats Beard

Any plant that resembles a dandelion in full seed is probably not a good idea.

10. Persian Coneflower

Self seeding and fast-spreading.  Unless you have lots of goldfinches that will eat the seeds and keep them under control, don’t plant it.  See more photos at Dave’s Garden.

11. Soapwort

Very useful as a natural cleaner, but can run wild if it has ideal growing conditions.  Learn more about soapwort at The Herb Gardener.

12. Veronicas

When a plant’s other name is Speed Well, you know it’s going to overtake your garden in short order.

Ground Cover Gone Wild

13. Lamium

Another great solution for ground cover in a shaded area. . . until it takes over in 5 years.

14. Clover

Unless you want it as your lawn or have a horse to feed, don’t plant it.

15. Snow on the Mountain/ Bishop’s Goutweed

While it works great for ground cover in a shaded area, you will never, ever get rid of it.  In my poll on my local Facebook Gardening group, this tied bellflowers as the most regretted plant.

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Keep it in a Container

16. Mint

You know that friend who is always trying to pawn off mint to you?  This is why.

Does a plant have mint in it’s name?  Chances are it’s super invasive.  Catmint and Lemon mint, I’m looking at you.

17. Shamrocks

Shamrocks are beautiful indoor container plants, but become an invasive headache if planted outdoors.

18. Oriental Limelight

Cut back aggressively in June and DO NOT plant anywhere outside of a container.  For more information, check out perennials.com.

Too-Short-Blooming-for-the-Effort-Perennials

19. Irises

Irises are so gorgeous, but it seems like they last for 2 days and then they’re done.  They can also get out of control if not divided regularly.

20. Day Lilies

There are so many beautiful day lilies, but the variety I’ve grown seems to bloom for less than a week and take up a lot of space.  If you plant the common orange one, it will take over your pretty specialty hybrid ones over the years.  And that would be tragic!


Want to Create a Perennial Garden that Blooms from Spring to Fall?

Click here to find out how!


Difficult in Saskatchewan

21. Any plant labeled Zone 4A or Higher

It doesn’t matter if you’re going to put it in a south facing spot right against the house. . . it will die.  Unless you live in the southern-most areas of the province you can maybe scrape by if you mulch it well.  Enjoy your zone 4A-ish privilege.  Nope. . .not bitter at all. . .

22. Roses

While not impossible to grow, especially if you choose a variety bred for the prairies, it is best left to more experienced gardeners.

23. Dahlias, Calla Lilies, or any other plant that you have to winter indoors

Unless you like that sort of thing.  Carry on.

Update: Since I first wrote this post I have come to love this sort of thing. But I don’t recommend it if you’re brand new to gardening, as you likely will not remember to bring them in for the winter.

The Impossible to Kill

24. Rhubarb

When I was young my Dad dug out our rhubarb plant at least a foot and half down and sprayed it with round-up.  It still came back.  I personally like having a rhubarb plant, but any more than one is excessive.

25. Raspberries

While the fruit is delicious, be prepared for your canes to spring up in unexpected places.

26. Snow on the Mountain/ Bishop’s Goutweed

It’s so hated it deserves to be listed under two categories.

27. Hollyhock

Hollyhocks only live for two or three years but are masters of reseeding themselves.

28. Comfry

While super useful as a medicinal plant, comfry plants can take DECADES before they start to decline.  Learn more about it at The Spruce.

29. Perennial Bachelor’s Button

Another prolific self-seeder.  Save yourself the headache and plant the annual version from seed instead.

30. Virgina Creeper

The good news: it will grow in practically any light or soil condition.  The bad news: it will grow in practically any light or soil condition.

31. Tansy

The tansy weed can produce up to 150 000 seeds a plant that remain viable for up to 15 years. (Source: bcinvasives.ca)

P.S. Wondering why there’s 31 perennials when the title is 28? I’ve since updated this post from my original publishing, and I counted one perennial twice because it ended up under 2 categories.

One mans weed is another man’s favourite flower.  If you really love any of these perennials, please don’t let this list stop you from planting them.  You can always just embrace the overgrowth.

Want to know what you should plant instead?  Here’s 53 Perennials you have to have.

and a video to see 20 of the easiest to grow:

A super special thank you to the gardeners in the Gardening in Saskatchewan Facebook Group.  Your generosity is amazing and this post would not have been possible without you!

If you’re reading this and you live somewhere warmer, you might enjoy 50 more perennials you’ll regret planting, a compilation from my readers in other places of what perennials have been disastrous for them.

Did I miss anything?  I’d love to hear about your perennial gardening regrets.


Want to Create a Perennial Garden that Blooms from Spring to Fall?

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Click here to find out how!


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Kristen Raney

Kristen Raney

Kristen is a former farm kid turned urban gardener who owns the popular gardening website, Shifting Roots.  She is obsessed with growing flowers and pushing the limits of what can be grown in her zone 3b garden.  She also loves to grow tomatoes, but oddly enough, dislikes eating them raw.

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Kristen

Welcome!

Hi, I'm Kristen and I help new gardeners learn to grow their own vegetables and beautify their yards. I also share recipes that use all that delicious garden produce. Grab a coffee (and your gardening gloves) and join me for gardening tips, simple recipes, and the occasional DIY, all from the lovely city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

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