10 Beautiful Invasive Plants You Do Not Want In Your Garden

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These invasive plants are all beautiful so you will be tempted to plant them in your garden. Find out which invasive species are not worth the hassle.

10 Beautiful Invasive Plants You Do Not Want In Your Garden

Since I’m in planning mode for adding a Japanese-inspired garden to my yard, I have been looking for plants that I will want to include in the space.  (You can see some of my inspiration for that HERE). And I was surprised to find that some types of Japanese maples (a requirement for a Japanese garden if you ask me) are on the Invasive Species list!

That got me thinking about all of the experiences I have had with invasive plants over the years.  I know that I do not want to intentionally plant another one!

For one thing, invasive species add so much more work to the gardening process.  If you read my post on low maintenance gardening, you know that even though I love my garden, I also don’t want to spend all of my free time working in it.

And the second problem is that most of these plants can easily escape your garden. When they set up shop in a natural habitat, they really cause a lot of damage to the native ecosystem.

So in the interest of sharing, click Next to see my list of beautiful invasive plants you do not want in your garden.

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88 Responses

    • Penstemone. I bought this from our extension service a few years ago and it has been a thorn in my side ever since. It takes over everthing, choking out all other plants and you CAN NOT get rid of it. The roots are very deep and break off easily when you try to pull them out. Any little piece left in the ground will grow a new plant. Horrible! This plant should definitely have come with a disclosure statement. I finally sprayed a small section with round up which killed it but harmed surrounding plants. The rest is still going wild in my garden.

      • Thanks, Tammy! I hate it when I have to resort to using Round Up, but sometimes it’s the only way that seems to work. I won’t be planting Penstemon in my garden any time soon 🙂

  • Wisteria …
    I have wisteria that was already growing when I moved into my home. At first I was excited because they smell so wonderful, but, they are sooooo invasive. The roots, well the shoots, spread out all along and crawl along the grass wanting to latch on to anything and grow. Mower doesn’t cut them up. They jump across on a nearby tree and scramble up it over and over, no matter how much you cut back on the wisteria. When they are really in full bloom, they are covered up in bumblebees. Sorry, but as much is I like a fresh bouquet, I’m not sparring with bumblebees for one! This thing smells wonderful when it’s blooming but I am ready to put weed killer on it and cut it down to the ground and it will probably still come back!

    • Hi MJ…I agree on the Wisteria…I love the look and smell of it when it’s blooming, but not sure it’s worth the effort 🙂

  • Non clumping bamboo!
    I lived in a two-story home with no tree on the south side, I thought I will plant some bamboo for shade on that side of the house. The bamboo grew to the second story, when the rain came it waited it down so it leaned out over the side yard. It multiplied quite quickly and every year it came up there was more. Finally after having a rainbow arch of bamboo instead of shade on the south side of my house I thought I should take it out. What a job!! I was much younger then, and worked a lot outside anyway, but this stuff was like it was concreted into the dirt. I had a pick ax I had shovels I had everything I could think up time to dig those roots out, but they are so embedded in the dirt, even with a pickax in all of my weight, they are nearly impossible to get out. I was thankful I didn’t have a yard full of that stuff. I will never ever plant bamboo again I don’t care what kind it is. I did get it out, but my back my body and everything about me hurt. So, it is invasive, and very very hard to get out, even if you only have a few “stalks” or whatever they are called!

    • I have heard that taking out bamboo is quite a chore! I didn’t realize that the clumping bamboo is still pretty bad…haven’t actually tried it…and I guess I won’t now! Thanks for the warning 🙂

  • Geez, my third comment… I’ve had this stuff too! I guess if you put it in a big field that you didn’t care if it just grew and it didn’t matter it would be OK. I put some in the corner of my yard in my little flower bed… looked really pretty for a while, until it got so big that was all you could see and it was at a corner with a stop sign, so it eventually made it hard to see oncoming traffic. I should’ve known when I had such trouble digging it out to get a start, having to use an ax to chop roots to get a start, it might be trouble! I do think this stuff is very pretty, but if the plant it somewhere, it needs to be somewhere that it will not bother other plantings. There’s a place around here that has a long driveway up a hill, and with no trees. They have it planted up each side of the driveway, it looks nice there, and there’s nothing there for it overtake. They burn it back every year to remove all of the dead leaves, as they are also very sharp on the edges. This is one place that looks nice and seems to be OK.

    • I agree that the grass looks very nice, and it would be pretty if you have a wide open space to plant it in…my garden never has wide open spaces 🙂 Burning it down every year sounds like a great way to keep it a little under control…thanks for sharing!

  • I personally have had trouble with Trumpet Vines and Boston ferns. I’m currently battling the ferns. They have completely taken over my landscaping and are spreading into the lawn. This after just a year! I regretfully did not research them until I realized they were monsters. Yes, they are classified as invasive.

    • TRUMPET VINES Just put in a new lawn, thought the vines were removed. Two weeks into the new lawn and the vines are showing up. Did a totally organic replacement of lawn and surrounding area and don’t want to use chemicals but may have to as they are very persistent. I will be researching every plant from now on.

      • Thanks, Diana…I hate it when plants with such pretty flowers end up being such a nuisance. And I totally agree about having to research before putting new plants in my garden!

  • I have two that I am battling now – #1 Soapwort aka Bouncing Bet, it’s the first to sprout in the spring and the last to die in the fall. It spreads by seeds and by rhizomes. It infiltrates your favorite plants and chokes them out. #2 Bittersweet. I wish that the garden center I purchased it from would have forewarned me. Also, there are two varieties and I was sold the one that never produced the berries. So now I have a vine that is prolific in greenery and also spreads by rhizomes and will show up even 6 feet away from it’s original planting.

    • Hi Robin…Thanks for the additions to the list! Those plants that spread by rhizomes are really tough to get rid of. There always seems to be some little bit left in the ground that grows where you don’t expect it.

  • Morning Glories! We have spent a decade trying to get these “sweet little vines” OUT of our yard. They have even choked rose bushes out, they wrap around and strangle everything, everywhere, and they keep popping up like a weed. If you don’t catch them when they are just sprouted, they will eat up any plants and take over the soil with their roots. Morning Glories are the biggest threat to mankind as far as I’m concerned.

    • Thanks for the addition to the list, Pam! And I completely agree with you…Morning Glories are a real nuisance, and very hard to get rid of.

  • Monarda (bee balm) is lovely, but spreads very quickly via underground runners. Passion fruit vine is also super-invasive. I can attest to pampas grass, ivy, and vinca as invaders, too!

  • I have had wisteria as a container plant. You have to prune it if it gets out of hand, but I had the same wisteria in a container for 15 years with no problem or runners.

    • Hi Susan…Keeping wisteria in a container sounds like a great idea! That way you can still have it in your garden and not have to worry so much about it taking over 🙂

  • Ruelias, had them on the ground for just 2 months and they started growing everywhere, removed them digging 2 feet and they still come out.

  • We bought a house that had Liriope (Monkey Grass) and English Ivy taking over the entire yard. It is uncontrolably spreading into the nature around us! They spread like bermuda and even penetrate thick landscaping fabric designed to control weeds.

    • Hi Tina…I haven’t tried Liriope before…thanks for the warning! But I definitely know the pain of trying to get rid of English Ivy. It sounds like you have a big job to take of…Good luck!

  • My evil addition to the list would be Privet. It’s taking over everywhere here in Tennessee and all over the south. It gets hundreds of berries on it in the fall that birds eat and then “deposit” all around. Each seed that touches the ground becomes a new plant. They are incredibly fertile. Privet is at the level of being an emergency hazard for native wildlife and vegetation all over the eastern U.S. because of how thick it grows, blocking space and sunlight for other plants. Fortunately, when it’s small, it’s pretty easy to pull up out of the ground with the roots intact.

      • I have had privet heges for over 30 years and had no problem with them! I wonder if there are other varieties maybe?

        • Hi Judy…it could be different varieties, or it may be that the growing conditions where you live keep it from getting too out of hand.

  • I think the key to all the talk about invasive plants, is what area you are! Not one of those plants is a problem in my area. Yes not one! I’m in a zone 3. Most of these struggle or don’t survive the winter at all. And also remember your soil type. Our soil is alkaline here.

    • Hi Shauna…that is true…if the plants can’t grow in your climate / soil conditions then they don’t have much chance to become invasive (and you probably wouldn’t be planting them in your garden anyway since they don’t grow very well).

  • I planted a start of Chevron Plant 2-3 years ago under a pine tree. It spread out of control. It seems to travel by sending out runners. It also spreads by seed that spire from the plant in late summer adding to the potential for it showing up all over the landscape. I like the look of the plant but it is out of control. I plan to spread pre-emergent herbicide and dig up all that emerges this spring.

    • Thanks, Ann! I haven’t tried that one but now I know not to 🙂 With runners and self-seeding, it sounds like a nightmare to get rid of!

    • I hated to add Wisteria to the list, because I love the way it looks. But now that I’ve grown it in my garden (and subsequently tried to get rid of it), I don’t think I would try it again 🙂

  • I have found that gooseneck loosestrife and chameleon plant are horribly invasive. And your preaching to the choir about lilly-of-the-valley.

    • Thanks, Vicki! Good to know about the Chameleon plant…I definitely feel your pain with the loosestrife and lily-of-the-valley 🙂

  • have a tan skin tree ? that is spreading up shoots from one side of the house to the other and in all directions.. one side of the house to another means the roots are going under the house.. have a septic and worry about it causing damage to drain field.. how do i kill it ?

    • Hi Lorraine…I would cut the tree down, then drill holes into the stump and pour motor oil in them. If you have large roots coming up in different areas of your yard, you may want to drill holes and apply motor oil to them too. That should kill it off pretty fast. Good luck with it!

  • i’m in zone 9—-lambs ear is so pretty but very invasive-wherever it touches it grows. best to keep in pots.

    • Hi Sandi…that’s a good one. I’ve had the same trouble with Lamb’s Ear…definitely best as a container plant 🙂

  • Wow ladies!! Thanks for all the great information. I used to want a couple of these and not now. I just soaked and planted red Morning Glory seeds. I will see about finding and digging them up before they go crazy. My raised bed is really not that big. Being in Colorado Springs, CO in the high altitude, higher than Denver, I have a lot of problem with plants doing anything. I am good with annuals but I have 2 thornless roses that I have had for years and the tallest they have gotten has been 3 ft. I did not prune it at all last fall. It is suppose to bloom like crazy and get as high as 12 ft tall. Never happened. I have had a few plants or seeds that came up 3 yrs later. Crazy. Hopefully these Morning Glories will be ok, sure I can’t find them all. I do have some 4 O’Clocks come in every year and bloom around 4:pm. They are not invasive and really pretty. They are a kind of Morning Glory that is why I bought these red seeds. Will see what happens. Thank you again ladies.
    Linda

    • Hi Linda…it sounds like you may have some tough growing conditions, so the morning glories may be okay. They do have really pretty flowers 🙂 Those thornless climbing roses are a bit tricky. They grow pretty well in my South Carolina garden, but when I lived in Canada I could not get them to do much (I don’t think they like cold winters).

  • If you want to add another invasive, it is Donkey Tail spurge. Very pretty in the spring with bright yellow flowers, but it spreads like crazy, and the white milky substance in the stems can be very toxic to the skin. A neighbor here in Colorado (zone 5) went to the hospital after trying to weed out this spurge.

    • Thanks, Linda! That sounds like 2 reasons not to plant it…invasive and toxic! (I hope your neighbor is okay.) Definitely a good addition to the list.

  • Rose of Sharon, grows fast and the seeds blow everywhere causing tiny bushes to pop up. If you don’t see them early they put down roots to China! Beautiful flowers and the humming birds love them but they are a real pest!

    • Thanks, Sharon! I haven’t had too much trouble with Rose of Sharon re-seeding itself (good to know it could be an issue!)…but I can certainly vouch for it growing fast and taking over whatever spot it is planted in.

  • Yes, I saw trumpet vine on here and agree. I currently have bishops weed (dont know it by any other name). We have dug and dug it and if there is the tiniest of root left in the ground, it will sprout. It is outlawed in some states because it has been known to take over wild areas. It is a ground cover of sorts but grows about 6 or more inches tall. We managed to almost eradicate it in one area by spraying it with weed killer and then covering it with a piece of plastic or tarp to smother it out..left on for over a year..

    • Hi Patti…I have heard horror stories about Bishop’s Weed…Good addition to the list! Thanks for the suggestions on how to get rid of it.

  • Trumpet vine-don’t EVER plant it-spreads like crazy even in the grass-turtlehead and black eyed Susan’s-never plant em-common orange daylillies too-think my whole garden is a cautionary tale of what not to plant….

      • Hi Wanda, it’s true that many of these invasive plants are quite OK on alkaline soil – I’ve been gardening on highly chalky soil for 40 years, trying desperately (and failing) to grow wisteria. On my high pH soil, a plant to avoid at all costs is aconitum (roots down several feet!) The lovely little crucianella stylosa with its wondefully perfumed spherical flower heads can get out of hand too.

        • Thanks for the additions to the list, Andrew! The soil in my area of SC is pretty acidic so definitely different growing conditions than what you have…good to get some advice for those that are dealing with alkaline soil.

    • I second that comment on trumpet vine. I have shoots coming up in my new grass. My organic landscaper is even contemplating using a chemical to get rid of it.

  • I havehad a lot of experience with invasive plants, unfortunately. I agree that it really depends on your location. I am in zone 5. Trumpet vine was nearly impossible to eradicate, along with physostegia, or obedient plant, along with snow on the mountain, aka bishop’s mantle. It was a many year’s long battle to discourage these plants. However, i have not had a problem with lily of the valley or morning glories. I guess it’s all about location, location, location!

    • St John Wort. Their root structure is incredibly difficult to remove. I’ve livedone in our home almost 4 years and still trying to eradicate it. Takes over everything!

  • Violets- ground cover I inherited in my SE MI garden. Cute in early spring with little purple flowers, then they grow to about a foot, rampantly, trying to take over, making the while garden look messy. Every year I dig out huge clumps of them. They seem to spread by both seed and rizhome.

    • Thanks for the addition, Renee! I think the plants that have multiple ways of spreading are the worst to deal with!

  • Wanda,
    I have found that love-in-the mist is also very invasive. After it flowers, it produces many seed pods and some of these seed pods can be pretty good size. These pods contain many seeds. So I work the last two or three years trying to keep them under control. The wind just carries the seeds everywhere. Before you know it in a year or two you’ve got more than you can handle.

  • I agree with you on all of these, especially Japanese Honeysuckle! I had been feeding the birds, no more! They eat the berries, spread the seeds in their droppings and it spreads by runners. I have been and out of the hospital for three years with doctors telling me to take it easy and it has taken over the whole yard. The only way to kill it is to cut and then paint the cut stems with Tordon. This way you save valuable plants and reduce the risks involved with using herbicides. This year I will have no garden.

    • Hi Dorlis…sorry to hear about your health issues. Yes, that honeysuckle is terrible! It is growing wild behind my house and I have a constant battle trying to keep it from taking over my yard. I’ll have to try Tordon and see if that makes more headway. Thanks for the suggestion!

  • Zone 7 here. I have to add Cleome to your list. They self seed and spread everywhere. They smell bad and are not pretty after a while. They get very thick ,thorny stems as they age.
    I pull out 100s and they still show up the next year.
    I agree on the ivy , ground cover vinca and I will also add lemon balm to your list.

    • Thanks for the additions to the list, Pat! I haven’t tried either of those, so I’ll have to remember to steer clear of them 🙂

  • Avoid Snow on the Mountain…I just takes over. You pull it up and it ccomes back. Zoysia grass is the worst. It grows everywhere and is a terrible Brown in the winter.

    • Thanks, Jane! I have experience with Zoysia grass, too…you’re right, it always seems to grow better in my garden beds (where I don’t want it) than it does in the yard 🙂

  • Omg,chameleon is awful,im not sure how i ever got it ….but it was beautiful poppin up in one spot n thn it got roots as long as about 2 ft long n spread all over to another bed…….im in process now of takin out my flower beds due to this plant…and my beds were beautiful n about 20 ft by 12 ft or more…..we are adding gravel n i hope that takes care of it…under layers of weed barrier…..if u have it,get rid of it nowwwww.
    Im dreading the site of a piece poppin up again.

    • Thanks, Bob! It sounds like you have a battle going on in your garden! I will definitely but Chameleon plant on my “Do Not Plant” list!

    • Thanks, Dot! The self-seeders do become a nuisance pretty quickly if they like your growing conditions (and apparently Foxglove is in love with your garden!)

  • In Colorado, while aspen trees are lovely in the mountains, they should be outlawed in the suburbs. They multiply through the root system, so if one neighbor plants an aspen or two, pretty soon entire groves are trying to pop in their yard, their neighbors’ yards, the whole neighborhood, and because the root system is everywhere, it’s impossible to eradicate! In terms of flowers, Jupiter’s beard (Centranthus ruber) is pretty invasive, too.

  • We had some morning glory come up in an area of the yard that needed some help. By the end of the summer it had taken over everything. We were never able to completely get it under control.

    • Thanks, Geneva! I have had that same problem with morning glory. It has such pretty flowers but it definitely is hard to keep under control!

  • I have four of these plants in my yard and get along, fine, with all of them. Well, Vinca minor can be a problem but I live in the foothills of the Sierra with a very hot summer, heavy clay soil and other growing problems and VM chugs along and keeps the bare spots green (or varigated, which I have, also). The secret to growing these invasive plants is to plant them in a contained spot. I love the large, shiny leaves of acanthus or Bear’s Breeches (not so much the dramatic blooms) and it will gobble up all other plants but I keep mine in a separate bed, surrounded by curbing and enjoy it. The ivy I have, is actually on the neighbor’s fence and I cut off any runners that try and invade my lot. I do have a problem with Chinese Sumac (not a flower but a very invasive tree) or Tree of Heaven, which will destroy a septic tank or the house foundation in a few short years. Trumpet Vine should have been on the list…invasive and loaded with ants that love the gooey secretions this plant oozes.

    • Thanks for the additions to the list, Bonny! Keeping invasive plants in a contained spot is a great idea if you still want to grow them 🙂

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