Sometimes we gardeners have the best intentions with the plants we choose, and yet sometimes our decisions come back to haunt us. It’s like buying a pet—sure, that little puppy is so cute, but one day he will grow up and be a very big responsibility. Some plants are like that … they catch your eye when they’re small and manageable, but a few years down the line they can be difficult to deal with.
Bamboo has become a poster child for sustainable materials production in recent years. It grows very fast, has robust health, and can be used to make everything from cutting boards to bedsheets. Not to mention, it can be used tastefully as an addition to your garden.
The problem with bamboo is that its vigorous growth can ruin your landscaping. Bamboo send out their rhizomes in all directions looking for new territory to take over. You can deal with this either by digging a trench around the perimeter of your bamboo plant or installing an underground barrier.
Sure, it’s an herb and it tastes and smells good. But in terms of annoying growing habits, mint is basically bamboo’s little brother. Anyone who’s ever grown mint in the garden knows how the plant will grow beyond its allocated area. And once it starts spreading, it’s nearly impossible to get rid of.
Suggestions for controlling mint include growing it in its own pot, or sinking a pot into the soil as a root barrier if you’d like to grow it at soil level.
Jasmine is favored for its heavenly scent and delicate white flowers. It was actually my first plant when I went away to college. However, like other vines, it has a tendency to take over if it’s not kept in check. There are a couple species that are actually considered invasive (Brazilian jasmine in Florida, for instance).
I have personally seen an overgrown jasmine choking out a thirty-foot-high Douglas fir on a property I once rented. This is something to consider before being enchanted by the plant’s perfume.
Another amazingly beautiful vine, wisteria is known for its grace and fragrant purple flowers that look like a real life version of a Van Gogh painting. But when wisteria grows without being checked, it is known to get very heavy and to throw its weight enough to knock down walls, arbors, or even porch columns. And think twice before you decide to grow it on a balcony—you don’t want to risk your balcony falling off.
Morning glory is a beautiful vine with heart-shaped vibrant green leaves and trumpet-shaped morning-blossoming flowers in various colors; purple is one of the most popular. It has no smell, but the seeds of some species are valued for their psychoactive properties.
But because of its fast growth, morning glory is considered an invasive weed in many areas. If you take one home, it will be happy to take over your landscaping and choke out any and all plants in its path unless you prune it.
As a home gardener, do you have experience with other plants that seemed like a good decision in the beginning but were too much work in the end?