A Gardener’s Enemies: Pest plants

Certain plants are invasive or aggressive and spread by hidden under grown runners or by self sowing prolifically, eventually taking over a garden and growing out of control.  I am not talking about weeds, but plants that are intentionally introduced by homeowners.   A variety of plants sold at big home improvement stores and some nurseries behave like weeds after spending a season or two in the garden.  Eventually, the gardener will wish they never planted them in their yard in the first place.  It happens to all good gardeners at some point in their gardening lifetime, including myself.

I have been fighting a regular battle with morning glory creeping over the fence from an adjacent backyard.   The twining vines reach over and try to choke my fruit trees branches and drop their seeds on our side of the fence.  After spending a few years regularly weeding to eliminate four o’clock from my yard, I intentionally re-introduced it when I realized the chickens don’t eat it as a mature plant, but they do keep the seedlings weeded with their scratching.  I must be nuts!

Morning Glory- Very pretty, but will self sow like crazy

Here is my list of top gardener’s enemies:

  • Morning Glory
  • Mexican Evening Primrose
  • Shamel Ash trees
  • Bamboo
  • Nut Sedge
  • Horse Tail
  • Sword Fern
  • Fountain Grass
  • Honeysuckle
  • Periwinkle
  • Pampas Grass

Desirable plants, like berries, I manage to co-exist with by choosing the right spot where they can be kept under control.  When selecting a new plant, I have learned to double check my Sunset Western Garden book to see if it is listed as invasive, spreading, or “naturalizes.”  I don’t recommend the following plants to novice gardeners or individuals that don’t want to spend much time gardening.  Plant with caution and in only in a controlled location or with a barrier.

  • Asparagus fern
  • Japanese Anemone
  • Ivy
  • Creeping fig
  • Four o’clock
  • Passion flower
  • Blackberries
  • Bermuda grass – It tenaciously crawls into flower beds, but it is a better lower water choice for local lawns than most fescues.
  • Wisteria
  • Raspberries
  • Borage
  • Mint

Triple Crown Black berry. Blackberries will spread by tip layering anytime a cane touches the ground.

I also recommend checking invasive plants at California Invasive Plant Council before planting anything you might be unfamiliar with.  Some non-native plants are escaping from yards in the Southern California region and invading wild areas. Because of their aggressive growth, non-natives plants can degrade native habitat, cause flooding, or increase fire risks.

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