Fight the Good Fight or Wave the White Flag?

In my mind, I’m a very Zen sort of gardener. If a plant doesn’t thrive, I don’t try again. I don’t fight the good fight to get something to grow. I don’t amend my flower beds. I don’t irrigate. I’m very ‘fend for yourself’ once something is planted and watered in. Let Nature take its course, I say to myself!

But it turns out when the situation is flipped, I’m not altogether sure I’m very Zen after all.

Witness: Agastache foeniculum (Anise Hyssop) and Tradescantia ohiensis (Ohio Spiderwort). Plants I voluntarily put in the garden because I knew they would thrive in my unique and often difficult site. Plants that, because they thrive in my unique and difficult site, seed themselves EVERYWHERE and show up in places I never intended for them to grow. Hooligans, hoodlums, bullies, thugs.


These plants are lovely. I wouldn’t have planted them in the first place if they weren’t. None of my research on them noted them as being aggressive or invasive, just stout & sturdy plants that anyone with sandy soil should consider. But holy cats, everywhere I look, more and more seedlings.

Can a plant be TOO successful in your garden?

These two will certainly take over if I let them. Every year for the past 3 years I’ve dutifully dug up unwanted seedlings and attempted to keep it a bay. At the very least, relegating it to regions they can ‘have’. The bees and butterflies/moths LOVE both plants. The flowers of the Spiderwort aren’t super showy, but they are lovely and the lush grassy leaves make a nice, soft addition to the garden. But did I mention that they are taking over everything?

The question then becomes, do I fight back or do I acquiesce?

I know there isn’t technically a right or wrong answer. I’m glad the plants are happy and healthy. I’m just worried that in 10 years the Dry Garden will actually be the Anise Hyssop and Ohio Spiderwort Garden. Doesn’t exactly have the same ring to it. It will also be really boring and redundant.

I’ve come to think of these two plants as locally advancing armies. I don’t have the time or resources (or heart) to kill the whole army. I also think the seed bank for these two armies is so deep I’d be killing off ghost armies for years to come. So I’ve just tried to keep the advancement at bay. It is certainly an ongoing battle as I’m fighting it every year. But I’m at a loss for what else to do.

Have any of  you struggled with a thug that isn’t a “weed”? How did you approach it and who won- you or the plant? I’d love to hear your take on this as I’m plumb out of ideas and questioning my tactics.


4 thoughts on “Fight the Good Fight or Wave the White Flag?”

  1. I have, many times. Battles with coreopsis and artemisia have left me so scared I’ve yer to return to those plants even though I know there are much more we’ll mannnered cultivars available. I’ve allowed things to run a bit but I’ve always gone for full kill mode and asked them to leave the garden ans not let the trowel hit them in the rear on the way out.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Don’t even mention Asarum canadensis or the European variety. Then there is the monster that is Solomon’s Seal. I bought the giant version of that before I discovered their thuggish tendencies. I think these are never-ending battles because seeds got scattered before one discovered how rampant their behavior was. I have been ripping all these plants out for years. They show up everywhere and I have never figured out an ultimate solution. Many of them often show up in the crowns of good plants and that means you can’t randomly dig or spray. This is why you have gardening friends: so you can endlessly complain about these things.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amen! I’ve been finding the Anise Hyssop popping up in the middle of my irises and baptisia. Sigh. Its somehow worse that I did this to myself! But I’m always glad to know I’m not alone and have sympathetic ears!


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