Many people avoid a plant when they hear it is invasive. I like them! They fill in spaces where nothing is growing; they surprise you with the combinations that appear.  But I have several hoes and a squirt bottle of Roundup so all goes well.  Let’s meet a few of them as there are many!

          The most persistent for me is the chameleon plant (Houttuynia) a gorgeous pink, white, red, and green leaved, short plant that likes water and sun. Flowers are white but I generally just cut them off.  If you want to keep it in one spot, plant it in a container and leave the top edge out an inch or so.  Since it spreads by running roots its easy to see them escaping and cut them off.  Another way is to put it in pots in your pond near the edge.  It doesn’t do as well in deep water.  In the sun the colors are brighter than in shade.  Good ground cover for a wet spot.

          Bee balm comes in red, pink, purple, lavender and maroon growing about 2 ½ to 3 feet tall.  Clumps send out runners from all sides so each spring I choose one side of new plants for a new clump and pull the rest.  This way I always have fresh plants.  It pulls or digs very easy.  Bees love it and so do butterflies.  It is easy to chop out a “hunk” and give to your friends.

          Perilla, a 2 to 3 foot almost black reddish purple plant with curly leaves spreads by seeds it makes by the thousands.  The color is so perfect with clumps of it here and there.  It makes the greens look greener and the white’s whiter.  There are small whitish flowers that appear in the fall.  When I have time I cut them off and wait until spring to see where my new crop will be.  They pull up super easy.

          Cleome or “spider plant”, is a tall one for the back border.  The spider legs are the seed pods full of many seeds.  There are pink, white, and lavender ones.  I have a set of three pinks that tower over a currant bush with yummy yellow currants.  It has also migrated to the front yard among the dahlias. The lavender came up among the rocks around my lily pond.

          In the fall I carry all my “frosted” plants back to the compost pile.  They tend to shed seeds all along the way.  Among the seeders are larkspur, dwarf hollyhocks, sweet rocket, black eyed susan, and cone flowers.

          A very different way is used by the old fashioned tiger lily our grandmothers carried with them in covered wagons.  They produce little black beads all along their stems where the leaves come out.  In three years those beads are 6 feet tall and covered with orange lilies.

          My root creepers include ribbon grass, buttercups, wind anemone, and Chinese lantern.  Autumn clematis produces a parachute for its offspring which you can expect to land anywhere.

          Remember, invasive plants are not necessarily bad.  If you want something to fill in bare spaces where nothing is growing, consider growing one of the plants I mentioned.

Copyright Sept.11, 2004