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The Right Plant in The Wrong Place

Updated on July 9, 2019
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Diana was a member of the Royal Horticultural Society. Her family loves gardening. She enjoys photographing and painting plants too.


Even The Most Beautiful Plants Can Spoil The Overall Effect In Your Garden

When you acquire a new plant, it's so easy just to plonk it in the ground wherever you have enough space at the time

It might look good for the first few months, or even for a year or several years, but ultimately is it going to be suitable for a permanent position there?

In the 1960s someone gave me a conifer tree to keep as a pot plant. When it had grown there strongly for a few years, I thought that rather than repotting it I would plant it in the far corner of my garden.

Big Mistake!

......Think About Future Growth

Not Just Current Position.....

This MeansTreating Pretty Little Seedlings And Container Plants With Caution

The conifer didn't stop growing at 10 feet, or even 20 feet

After about 20 years it was taller than my house and no doubt the roots spread through most of the garden, greedily drawing in all the moisture and making the ground around it dry and barren. It looked commanding and beautiful but, reluctantly, I decided it had to go, and at great expense I arranged for tree surgeons to cut it down and remove it.

My teenaged children were really upset, as birds used to nest in the branches, and they punished me by refusing to talk to me for a whole at least some good came out of it!

Here's a List of 6 Problem Plants in My Garden

I love them all, and am not prepared to eradicate them from my garden completely, any more than I would ban a naughty child from my home, but I certainly want to keep them under control

  1. Euphorbia (2 different kinds)
  2. Montbretia or crocosmia
  3. Nasturtiums
  4. Borage
  5. Verbascum or mullein
  6. Cherry tree

If you want to read about more naughty plants, try this link: Invasive Garden Plants

My Rockery Over-Run by Euphorbia and Montbretia


When you see the photo above, you wouldn't even know it's a rockery

  • In the foreground the yellowy-green euphorbia sprawls all over the rocks and conceals all the smaller rockery plants nestling in the cracks beneath it.
  • The grass-like plant in the foreground is montbretia in spring before it bursts into gorgeous bright orange flowers. That too has swamped the rockery and most of it had to be pulled out.

Lychnis (Where Is It?) Swamped By Nasturtiums and Borage


You Can See That My Delicate Cerise-Coloured Lychnis Was Almost Smothered by Other More Rampant Plants

You can barely see the deliightful silvery leaves and flowers of my beautiful one-and-only lychnis plant with its bright cerise-coloured petals.

Thinking about it, I had just two options if I wanted an appropriate show of lychnis:


  • Dig out the other offending plants, even though they were flourishing


  • Plant some more lychnis, which is what I plan to do, once the seedlings which I am now growing are large enough

Basically my mistake was that I had simply planted the lychnis in an area where I had overlooked the fact that there had been lots of borage and nasturtium plants growing in that space the previous year. I had forgotten that both species are very inclined to self-seed vigorously. In early spring there was no sign of them, just bare earth, but I should have known better.

There's a Popular Saying That "a Weed Is Just a Plant in The Wrong Place"

Very possibly--

But not always!

Euphorbia Growing Out of a Hole in The Front Garden Wall


And This Is What Happens When You Let Plant Roots Grow Through Your Wall


Not a Pretty Sight, And Rather Expensive to Put Right


Surely One Euphorbia Plant Didn't Do All That?

No, of course not. The wall was 72 years old, and had been undermined by tree roots and energy source pipes. However, euphorbia rooting in the cement didn't help.

So what caused the immediate need for a replacement wall?

Promise not to roll your eyes?

OK I'll tell you.

A man came to the door whilst I was out and told my partner he was working on the house next door and noticed the wall was cracking, and he gave a very reasonable quote for rebuilding it, and said if we paid for materials in advance, he could start immediately. My partner agreed and allowed the man to knock down the wall forthwith, even before I got home. We paid for bricks, skip and haulage, and the man then did a runner.

The neighbours confirmed he had never done work for them.

Footnote: It's a bit unwise to do expensive business with strangers who knock at the door without an appointment.

Montbretia Also Known as Crocosmia Is Strikingly Beautiful When In Flower

Unfortunately it is also vigorous and invasive, spreading by multiplication of corms and also by self-seeding.

It thrives in full sun or half shade in moist well-drained soil, which can be clay (as in London where I live) or loam, chalk or sand, and is very easy care, too easy, I would say. It grows to about 2 feet tall, with long grass-like leaves, flowering in summer.

Montbretia or Crocosmia in Full Bloom


But Here's Montbretia Taking Over The Rockery


This June I Had to Dig Out Two Bags Full of Montbretia Plant Corms


The Easiest Way to Remove Unwanted Plants:

Do it when the ground is wet and softened -

Either after it has rained


After the earth has been thoroughly soaked

with a hosepipe

Self-Seeded Verbascum or Mullein


Verbascum or Mullein Should Not Be Growing On a Pathway

This beautiful plant has silvery slightly textured leaves. It is a biennial and in the first year it just grows leaves and buds, but still has a spread of about 2 feet. In the second year it can grow up to about 5 or 6 feet, with a spread of about 2-3 feet and out of the upright tall stem grow lots of little buds which develop into yellow flowers.

Stunning, but not the sort of plant you want self-seeding itself in the middle of your path in the gap between paving stones.

Here Are Some Interesting Facts Which You Might Not Know - I Didn't, Until I Watched This Video:

My Cherry Tree Decorated With CDs to Scare Off Greedy Predators


I Hung My Cherry Tree With Shiny CDs to Stop Birds and Squirrels Stealing the Cherries

But it never did stop squirrels and birds raiding the tree as soon as any cherries appeared

In its final year, the only single cherry I managed to save, by covering the tree with netting, fell off and was eaten by slugs. In case you are wondering, it's actually very difficult and dangerous for someone like me to cast netting over a whole tree, so I was pretty annoyed when it didn't work as expected.

I felt it was unwise anyway to have a cherry tree with deep roots sucking all the moisture out of my garden flower beds, so I made a decision to cut it down.

I still miss the cherry blossom in spring, but at least I don't have the annoyance of missing cherries. In the year it was cut down, we didn't get a single cherry to eat, even with the netting over the branches.

Rhs Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers

Rhs Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers
Rhs Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers
I can't recommend this book highly enough. This is the Fifth Edition, but I refer to my older version all the time to get ideas for plant sizes, colors, and growing information. It is very comprehensive and a bit expensive, but well worth it, because it will save you putting plants in the wrong place. Your plants will be more likely to flourish well, which will save you money and provide untold pleasure. If you like lots of excellent photographs of plants, both common and rare, buy this gardener's bible.

Tree Surgeons at Work


Have You Ever Had to Cut Down a Mature Tree in Your Garden?

See results

© 2019 Diana Grant


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