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My Categories of Invasive or Easy to Grow Plants in My Idaho Garden

Some of my labrador violets getting their morning sun in early April.

Some of my labrador violets getting their morning sun in early April.

I recently wrote an article for the D&B Supply blog about how to decide whether or not a plant is invasive in your own yard. In it I mention a few plants along the way, as examples, but I thought I’d go ahead and make a more thorough list of categories of vigorous, easy to grow, and potentially overwhelming plants, according to my experiences in my Idaho garden. I will mix up vegetables and flowers, grouping them more by

  • how they spread,
  • how hard they are to keep under control, and
  • if I like them enough to deal with them.

 (click on any photo to enlarge)

A swath of volunteer, baby calendulas along the front sidewalk needs to be drastically thinned out.

A swath of volunteer, baby calendulas along the front sidewalk needs to be drastically thinned out.

Spread a lot by seed, but not too hard to pull, and I like well enough to deal with the extra weeding out of volunteers –

  • marigolds, including calendula
  • larkspur
  • sunflowers
  • balsam impatiens
  • hollyhocks
  • cilantro
  • lettuce
  • onions
  • labrador violet
  • heavenly blue morning glory
  • perennial lavender statice
  • tomatoes
  • dry beans
  • petunias
  • California or Thai silk annual poppies
  • horned poppy
  • four o’clocks
  • portulaca, also known as moss rose
  • double Shirley poppies
  • bachelor buttons, both perennial and annual
  • squash, mostly winter varieties like pumpkin
  • snapdragons

 

Vigorous, easy to grow larkspur and hollyhock volunteers still thick by the daffodils.

Vigorous, easy to grow larkspur and hollyhock volunteers still thick by the daffodils.

Spread by seed en masse, are not too hard to pull, but have no qualities I value  –

  • horehound
  • elm tree (only easy to pull when very small)

Spread by seed easily, but one or two is enough and the rest are just weeds –

  • maple trees
  • oak
  • hisbiscus shrubs
  • euphorbia

Spread by seed and root, I like, but take diligence to management –

  • comfrey
  • chives
  • lamb’s ear
  • allium

 

Silver leaf lamium and catnip coming to life under the elderberry bush.

Silver leaf lamium and catnip coming to life under the elderberry bush.

Spread all or mostly by root, tubers, or bulbs, but have I am willing to work with and try to find good locations for –

  • raspberries
  • blackberries
  • strawberries
  • irises
  • tulips
  • oregano
  • mint
  • chrysanthemum
  • daffodils
  • crocuses
  • honeysuckle
  • lace vine
  • catnip
  • lamium
  • bunching onion
  • hyacinth
  • wind flowers
  • Spanish blue bell
  • plumbago
  • sweet woodruff
  • sedum
  • hens and chicks
  • elderberry bush

Spread by seed, borderline on qualities I appreciate, and kind of hard to keep under control –

  • flowering tabacco
  • yarrow
  • alyssum

Spread by seed to the point that I never want to see another seedling –

  • crimson rambler morning glory (much more vigorous than the heavenly blue variety)
  • tall open pollinated purple aster
  • grape hyacinth
  • butterfly weed (not to be confused with butterfly bush)
  • pink evening primroses
  • tall yellow, evening primrose

 

My little black mondo grass patch among some hyacinths, columbine, and violas.

My little black mondo grass patch among some hyacinths, columbine, and violas.

Spread by seed some, and only in certain micro-environments –

  • forget-me-nots (shade)
  • black mondo grass (shade)
  • mountain columbine (shade)
  • pink coneflower (full sun)
  • yellow corydalis (reseeds a lot, but only in the limited shade areas I have)
  • balloon flowers (shade)
  • Japanese anenome (shade)

 

 

It can be very helpful to learn to identify volunteers, and their first leaves, which are often quite different from the true leaves. If you have to wait until you see the flowers or fruit to know if you want the plant, you are at a disadvantage. This is also why I have been studying the weeds in my yard and working on the backyard weed series. (see link backyard weeds in tag cloud at the bottom of the blog page) Even weeds tend to look different when small, plus it has been motivating to learn about the seed counts and characteristics of the weeds. Please feel free to add your own experiences with the vigor of certain plants, but try to include specifics about location and what you do or don’t like about the plant. It may be a bit of a balancing act sometimes, but a happy plant gives all it’s got!

 

 

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