This year has been a challenging one for gardeners. We had early warm weather, then our February snow, and then lots of rain. As the weather has warmed up, long-dormant plants have started to bloom and grow. One day the plants are blooming and the next they are exploding. The weeds are waist high and paths are closing due to excessive growth. What has happened?
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Most of us know that we live in a plant paradise, but did we overdo our plant enthusiasm?
Maybe we should have curbed our purchases. Did we pay any attention to the warnings of natives? Were we aware of such things as noxious weeds?
This is not a new problem. Our state has a history of welcoming new plants such as scotch broom, only to find out that the plant will grow anywhere and should be avoided. Ivy, butterfly plant (buddleia) and blackberries were welcomed, only to be found damaging to native plants.
To address this issue, the Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board was formed. Its website lists the worst of the plants and has pictures. It’s a great source.
But perhaps their list called weeds of concern is most practical for gardeners. These plants are not noxious, but have so many problems that gardeners are wise to avoid them.
These are seven of the top plants to avoid.
1. Bishop’s Weed (aegopodium) which spreads and overwhelms less vigorous plants
2. Buttercup, creeping (ranunculus). loves wet areas and can overtake other better plants
3. Buttercup, tall, similar to #2
4. English holly. looks good but overcomes natives. Catch it while it is small
5. European mountain ash, rapid grower and often outgrows the original place it was planted
6. English laurel, makes a thick (8 feet plus) hedge which often outgrows its space and needs lots of pruning
7. Morning Glory, convolvulus, grows through and over plants. It’s a rampant grower.
How to avoid these problems:
– Visit other gardens and ask gardeners what plants have been good and what a problem.
– Be wary of the nursery signs, which only show 10 years of growth. What plant stops growing at 10 years?
– Be a little stingy with your plants. Plant some faster-growing plants, which you promise to remove when new plants grow (as they will). If you can’t bear to remove plants, this won’t work.
Console yourself with how much beauty you will enjoy because you live here.
— By Barbara Chase
Barbara Chase is a Master Gardener who also serves on the City of Edmonds Citizens Tree Board.