For example, Japanese anemones
are lovely late summer bloomers that can be quite aggressive in the
shade and good garden soil. They are meeker in full sun and clay
soil. I think of these plants as garden bullies – plants that will
push right over a neighboring plant without so much as a “pardon
me.” The worst offenders spread aggressively by rhizomes
(underground stems), often popping up alarmingly far from where they
were originally planted.
Lamb’s Ear (Stachys
Many of these plants are pretty, attractive to butterflies
and pollinators, tasty, fragrant, or otherwise useful in the garden.
Although you may wish to avoid these plants altogether, be aware
that these garden thugs can have uses, including holding an
erosion-prone bank in place, even when it is composed of nothing but
clay and shale. In some situations, you may find you need an
aggressive plant. To quote Dr. Allan Armitage, “There is no such
thing as a bad plant, only a bad use for a good plant.”
As long as you are aware of their thuggish nature, you can make use
of aggressive garden plants. They can be grown in areas bounded by
hardscape – between a building and a sidewalk, for example, where
they cannot escape. They can also be grown in containers so that you
can enjoy their beauty, fragrance, or flavor, without spending a
lifetime of weeding them out of areas where you do not want them
growing. Be sure to keep the containers up off the ground so their
vigorous roots do not sneak out of the drainage holes and establish
themselves in the ground.
Always be wary when you hear words like “vigorous,” or “fast growing
ground cover” to describe a plant. Many plants with square stems,
such as bee balm, belong to the mint family, and share its tendency
to take over. Other members of the mint family such as oregano are
much better behaved.
I’m sure there are many plants that could be added to this list, so
use it as a starting point. It is also helpful to look up plants
before you buy them and add them to your garden so you know what you
are getting. A brief bibliography will follow the plant list.
Aggressive Garden Perennials
Bells (Adenophora lilifloria)
Bishop’s Weed (Aegopodium
Anemone (Anemone x hybrida)
spp.) – especially A. ludoviciana ‘Silver King’ and A.
Bellflower (Campanula glomerata)
Lily-of-the-Valley (Convallaria majalis)
(Eupatorium rugosum, now classified as Ageratina altissima)
(Houttuynia cordata 'Chameleon')
Archangel (Lamium galeobdolan)
Loosestrife (Lysimachia clethroides)
Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)*
On the Pennsylvania
Noxious Weed List
Plume Poppy (Macleaya
Bee Balm (Monarda
Primrose (Oenothera speciosa)
Ribbon Grass (Phalaris
Lamb’s Ear (Stachys
are considered a threat to natural areas.
Perennial Plants, 3rd Edition,
Allan M. Armitage, Stipes Publishing, 2008. ISBN 9781588747754.
Allan M. Armitage, Timber Press, 2000. ISBN 0881924350.
Encyclopedia of Ornamental Grasses,
Rick Darke, Timber Press, 1999. ISBN 0881924644.
Well-Tended Perennial Garden,
Tracy DiSabato-Aust, Timber Press, 2006. ISBN 0881928038.
Herbaceous Ornamental Plants,
Steven M. Still, Stipes Publishing, 1994. ISBN0875634338.
Converting your lawn to wildflowers
Photos of perennials
(A - M)
perennials (N - Z)