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This Plant Had to Go

I was forewarned. When I was eyeing the wondrously variegated Artemesia 'Oriental Limelight', the nursery worker told me it could be invasive. The look on her face said more than her words. But it was so pretty!I noted the warning, however, and decided to plant my new specimen in the ground within a plastic pot. That was two years ago.

Last year I found new sprouts coming up out of the ground, all within a couple feet of the mother plant. I pulled them up but hesitated to remove the original plant. It was so pretty! I even let it flower, because I thought the white buds looked great along with the neighboring yellow day lilies.I was diligent to cut the seed heads off before they dried. Like someone nursing a pet sin, I felt I had it under control. 

This year I had to face my problem. This plant was in front of my house, next to where visitors park their cars. I never intended for it to be a ground cover, but not only did I have new plants coming up from underground runners that had escaped the confines of the pot, but now I had seedlings coming up that were five feet or more from the mother plant. So this week I was ruthless, pulling up the original plant, with its tenacious runners snaking out of several holes in the sides of the plastic pot. How was this plant able to make these holes?! I also ripped out every visible seedling. I don't fool myself that I have seen the last of it. 

There is a good place for most plants. Perhaps Artemesia 'Oriental Limelight' belongs in a meadow with grasses and other aggressive growers. It does not belong in front of my house.

Sometimes gardeners have to admit their mistakes. A plant may overgrow its spot, or maybe it won't grow at all. Perhaps it demands too much maintenance. Maybe it doesn't look good in its setting, and another plant would be a better choice. Maybe a plant is sickly despite all our doctoring. Gardening is often about editing, and that means we have to be willing to let a plant go. 

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Reader Comments (21)

Sounds like you made the right move!

I think being a good gardener means knowing when you've made a mistake and working to correct it.

Lord knows I've done the same a time or three! :P

July 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAaron Dalton

If it has to go it has to go, all part of gardening and being in charge of a garden :)

July 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMark and Gaz

Deb - you are SO right about facing up to the fact that we sometimes have to let a plant go. Loved this line: "Like someone nursing a pet sin, I felt I had it under control."

July 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Jones

We all tend to hope for the best but at least you prepared for bad behavior. It's incredible that it could circumvent the confines of the pot like that. I once planted a morning glory vine in the ground despite warnings about its weed-like behavior. Like you, I felt that, well-warned, I could manage its assertive behavior although I didn't take your precautions. After a somewhat slow start (probably designed to lull the gardener into a false sense of security), it took off. Still, it was beautiful - until it became infested with giant white fly. It took me close to 3 years before I completely eradicated it...

July 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKris P

It is so tempting as you described. The pot should have worked. Maybe you can plant it in a container that you don't then plant in the ground.

My big mistake plant was crown vetch as a ground cover on a hill. It's no longer there because the weeds beat it out but it keeps popping up in another bed where I don't want it.

July 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMarcia

Yesterday I looked sadly at the brown leaves on my Coleonema. I'm trimming back branch by branch, since there are a few green leaves. But are they going, or coming back?

July 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDiana Studer

We've all done it Deb, a few times! Certain plants sound so nice in catalogues, but then when they get their roots down, they go mad! We then have to spend years diligently trying to eradicate them, knowing there will be more next year!

July 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPauline

Oh Deb, I did the same thing a couple years ago. I good friend shared with me a few small plants of variegated Artemesia toward the end of summer. The following year it started to take over and the third year I got rid of it when I started to find it everywhere and plus it had over grown the area I planted it. It is beautiful but I don't grow it anymore either!

check out my new Plant Exchange post,

July 20, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermichael

Like you, I contain those aggressive growers. My neighbor has a Rose of Sharon that spreads it wealth in the form of sprouts everywhere in my garden. My trumpet vine is a plant I have to weed out the offspring too. There are more plants than most would like to admit in aggressive behavior. You are right in removal.

July 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

Well done for being strong Deb. Is the plant a native to your area? The line between right plant right place meaning that it thrives and being invasive is a fine line. I have plants that will pop up all over the place but if they are easy to remove I don't usually consider them invasive; if they can thrive in my drought conditions they are usually welcome.

July 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

A great cautionary tale! I can't believe the plant managed to escape even the confines of a pot!
The timing of your story is perfect because on the weekend I bought a plant that I know was somewhat invasive. Like you, I was swayed by a very pretty plant. Now I am wondering about the sanity of my decision. Hmm....

July 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

Ahhh, I think we all have been there, I certainly have! I planted an Acanthus spinosa in a pot, in the ground, just to find roots and seedlings coming up feet away, turned out the while plastic pot had cracked up and bursted. That was some years ago, I am still finding Acanthus sprouting here and there in that bed…. Gardening is trial and error for most of us :-)

July 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHelene

Thanks everyone for your comments! I read each one, and they all are important to me. Christina, you asked if this plant is native to my area. Not really. It is a native of Europe, but it has naturalized in the eastern U.S. It is not easy to remove because of its long underground runners. I wish I had done my research before buying! Deb

July 21, 2014 | Registered CommenterDeborah Elliott

Oh it is so pretty! And is is soft and fluffy too, like the other artemisias that you want to stroke all day long? I appreciate the warning. I would certainly have fallen for it if I hadn't read this first.

Wow, good post! So true! I have plants like this, but they're even more invasive and they were here when we moved in. One of these days, I'm going to re-do the entire bed. Big project!

July 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBeth @ PlantPostings

It's a good thing you were warned Deb. Who knows what might have happened had you not planted it in a plastic pot! I planted all my bamboos in plastic pots in the garden. I hope they won't escape like your plant did. At least bamboos don't produce seedlings.

July 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDenise

Oh yes, someone gave me some of these years ago and it almost took over. The leaves are so pretty, it is a shame that it is invasive.

July 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPhillip

But the change is always so hard to make. I sneakily think that the plant might do well up here, if it's hardy enough. We get so little water that it would be kept in check with frost, freezing, and drought...himmm.


I've had the exact same problem in my garden with various plants that I thought I could control. Like you say, when they have pretty flowers it's hard to resist them! Gardening is trial and error, and it's better to catch the plant early while there's still a chance of controlling it. Hope you don't get too many seedlings of it popping up.

July 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaula@SpoonsnSpades

I've grown this before and it's an invasive thug! It took years to get rid. Wise move to get it out of the garden before it completely takes over!

July 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCasa Mariposa

Boy have I made this mistake with a couple of plants and will be trying to fix it....

July 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDonna@Gardens Eye View

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