One reason I have to hoe as much as I do is that I don’t like to put mulch on very early to keep weeds down.  I like to see which plants seeded themselves.  Many times I like the new combinations I would never have thought of.  When I read the gardening magazines the authors talk about “thugs” that prefer to do their own planting.  I have a number of these so wait until I think volunteers are up.  By then, so are the weeds!  Some plants may be invasive in parts of the US but not in others.

          I’ve heard people refer to Morning Glories (Ipomoea tricolor) as weeds as they do produce many, many seeds that seem to be able to spread quite widely.  The seeds are very long lived.  A trellis I removed about seven years ago was covered with the blue ones, and this spring a number of plants came up.  The vines can become very thick and heavy enough to take down a weak trellis, but that 6x6 blue “blob” was gorgeous.  The babies are easy to recognize and easy to pull, so I’m hoping to get more started on a six foot chain link fence in full sun.  I’ve had a white Moonflower ( Ipomoea alba ) climb to the top of a Crabapple and spread out with its huge white flowers that open at night, but it’s not a spreader like our Morning Glory.  The decorative Sweet Potatoes such as ‘Blackie’ (black) and ‘Margarita (chartreuse) are also Ipomeas.  Seeds of this genus are highly toxic if eaten.

          If some of your daisies don’t live very long or don’t do well, there is a native Oxeye Daisy (Leucanthemem) that would be glad to fill the space.  Flower heads are single in late spring between 12-36 inches tall.  The centers (disc flowers) are a bright yellow and do well in a bouquet.  The plants can be divided in either Spring or Autumn, but I find it easiest to pull up the entire plant when the spent flowers have matured.  Then, I shake the entire plant where I want it to be the next year, and soon there will be hundreds of new plants for the next year.  They do well in sun or partial shade.  The heads have so many blooms they tend to flop, so I cage them about 18 inches apart early in the spring as I’m thinning.  Soon, you won’t see the cage.

          Anemones are a vigorous group.  There are several varieties with tuberous, fleshy, or rhizomatous roots.  I find the ones called Windflowers to be the most invasive, but they are a neat plant for a shady area pushing other plants aside in spring.  There is also a fall, pink blooming Anemone (Anemone japonica) of 4-5 feet just as vigorous.  The Windflowers spread by roots and even if you pull them will be right back up unless you get all the roots.  I like that white patch about 15 inches high in spring and find Roundup® is very good for control.  Mine was given to me about 30 years ago as a Windflower, but I am suspicious that is really Anemone sylvestris, the Snowdrop Anemone.  They even come up in the gravel path.  Like many spring bloomers, they like moist, not wet, soil.

          Under a trimmed up Crab Apple I have a colony of Forget-Me-Nots (Myosotis sp.) that acts a little differently.  They bloom near the ground with little blue flowers off and on all summer.  Then some summers the whole patch seems to disappear. [The plant encyclopedia says they are short-lived perennials.]   The first summer it happened I could not see what I had done wrong, for them to just drop dead.  As with many of my plants, they had been given to me by someone moving into a retirement home.  Then, the next spring I had the thickest colony of blue.  This same thing has happened to me about every other year.  Those little flowers must make many, many seeds.  My patch was about 3x3 foot this last summer.

          Perhaps the most vigorous of my “invaders” is Perilla (Perilla frutescens) from India or Japan .  It’s also one of my favorite plants with its dark, reddish, pineapple leaves about 3 feet high.  I like it in areas to show up the green of other plants.  Blooms are plentiful, but so small I hardly see them.  They like damp soil in sun or light shade.  Also called Shiso (in herb catalogs) and are put in some Japanese tobaccos.  They are very easy to pull or hoe, so I try to keep two areas each summer.

          In spring we have lavender or white blooms in either sun or shade.  It is a biennial that was planted along our roadsides years ago, but was mowed down before the seeds matured.  Its one of the plants one can pull up and shake where you want the new bed to be.  Hesperis matronalis is called Dames Rocket, Wild Phlox, or Sweet Rocket.  Some states have it listed as a weed from its many, many seeds.  About three feet tall, the blooms last long in bouquets.  It’s a favorite “home” for many insects.

          I have a much longer list of those plants that plan to succeed by taking over.  Actually, I wish there were more as I like surprises and have several good hoes.

Copyright 2010