In gardening, know when enough is enough

If you are a positive thinker, you spend much more time dwelling on all the wonderful things you would like to add to your garden than you do considering the undesirables. But it is good every once in a while to sort through a list of plants and other things you do not like.

You probably will find, as I do, some of those less-than-

desirable items are right out there where you see and, for the most part, ignore them.

Sometimes, it is not worth the effort to dig out or otherwise dispose of plants you do not want, until one day the traits that upset you in the first place become overwhelming. For instance, many years ago, I somehow acquired a liriope. This creeping lilyturf is a good ground cover in the right place, and the lavender flower spikes are a nice touch of color in late summer.

The trouble is in the name. It creeps.

Liriope spreads by rhizomes that grow just below the surface and are difficult to remove.

A couple of years ago, I decided the only way to make more room in the side border was to dig them out, but that was easier said than done. I tried to reach all of the plants but did not get all the rhizomes – and they have come back with renewed vigor.

There are several small bulbs that are best avoided unless you have bare patches that need a fast-growing cover. Winter aconite and star-of-Bethlehem both self-sow readily and are inclined to pop up in all directions, including the lawn. There is a fine line between spreading and invading.

Hyacinths and hybrid tulips are lovely in the first year, and so will not disappoint if you regard them as annuals. Second-year blossoms tend to be sparse and the foliage that lingers is unsightly. Daffodils behave much better, and are available in pink and white as well as the traditional yellow.

Garden chrysanthemums take a lot of pampering if they are to do well after their first season. They can rot over the winter in wet soil, need pinching back in spring and summer, are subject to aphids and spider mites, and need dividing every other year. But they are a lovely sight in fall.

I buy mine already in flower and bury the pots. Then, when winter comes, I dig up the pots and keep them in a sheltered place. Sometimes, they survive the winter and start new growth in the spring; if not, they are good fodder on the compost heap.

Some nice perennials that are short-lived are lupines, Shasta daisy, delphiniums, cardinal flower and primroses. Just be aware they are not with you for the long haul.

Then, there are perennials that arrive quietly but are determined to reproduce prolifically and stay with you forever. Included here are the herbs borage and dill, violets, loosestrife (designated an invasive species in Ohio), perennial sweet peas, feverfew, plume poppies and rose campion.

Finally, there are ground covers that are hard to keep in bounds including ajuga, creeping buttercup, English ivy, Virginia creeper, creeping Jenny, dichondra and bishop’s weed.

None of these plants are actually harmful, and there are probably some of your favorite flowers included. Just be aware they have characteristics that make work for you, dividing, replacing, weeding out or pinching back. They may be worth the trouble, but if not, you know what to do.

Janet Del Turco is a local gardener and a graduate of the Ohio State University Master Gardener program. Contact her at