Invasive plant horror stories

Hometalk member and gardener extraordinaire Barb Rosen recently wrote of her nightmare experience with chameleon plant, Houttuynia cordata, and what may be her life-long project of getting rid of it. But Barb surely isn't alone in having planted something she regretted. For me, my biggest mistake was planting gooseneck loosestrife, Lysimachia clethroides. I'd heard how "rambunctious" the plant could be, but I had a dry, shady spot where I couldn't get anything else to take hold and bloom. Well, the lysimachia did, and soon started looking for territory to annex. I've since sold the house and it may have taken over the entire property by now for all I know. Here's your chance to sound off and put up the warning flag about plants that belong on a "do not plant" list. Please post a photo if you have one, and let us know what zone you're in.
It looks harmless enough! (Photo via Bluestone Perennials.)

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Have a question about this project?

9 questions
  • Phyllis Marsh
    on Apr 27, 2016

    Has anyone been able to get rid of Virginia Creeper? It is terribly invasive. We are constantly pulling it out, but it has invaded my blackberry patch.

    • Loreta
      on Jun 2, 2016

      This may seem tedious, but it will absolutely work: instead of pulling it out (which stimulates root pieces to actively grow and multiply), get some Roundup (not the concentrate), put into a medium lidded glass jar. Get a cheap, soft bristle 1/2" paintbrush; paint any leaves that are 3 to 6 inches from your "unwanted zone" with the paintbrush dipped in Roundup, being careful to not get any on other plants. The creeper leaves don't have to b covered completely, n it doesn't have to b all the leaves. After a few days u will see the plants leaves yellowing a lot farther than the area you painted. You can then pull the plant and roots, and they won't return. Those roots have to b dying before you break them. Just repeat elsewhere u find leaves u don't want. It may take 6 weeks of determination and some painting, but it will be gone eventually, and within one season. Just b patient n persistent. Loreta

    • Pamela Culpepper
      on Jun 8, 2016

      The best way I know is to cut near ground level and "paint" the raw end with roundup for shrubs. Make sure you pull the vine out of the tree or off the house and put in trash.

  • Carol Crane
    on Apr 29, 2016

    How to get rid of Snow on the Mountain. It even grows under the concrete sidewalk and comes up between concrete and the brick of our house.

    • Debbie
      on May 12, 2016

      have you tried vinegar and salt wit a little dish soap? Hope it works, I use it in my yard for weed control, as we have dogs

    • Carol Crane
      on Jul 14, 2016

      Debbie, will the combination of vinegar, salt & dish soap kill all vegetation in a flowerbed?

    • Rosel Kynast
      on Sep 2, 2016

      Debbie, can I use the vinegar,salt and dish soap mixture to get rid of creeping charlie? I have no clue where is came from but my yard is full of it. I do not like and will not use chemicals.

  • Nancy Kozak Pollera
    on May 30, 2016

    How to get rid of Lily of the Valley and Gooseneck Loostrife

    • Char Hanson
      on Jun 15, 2016

      Dig it up at least one foot deep and throw it away

    • Lynn Fitzgerald
      on Jul 12, 2016

      I don't know if I would throw it away...We have both and I love the Gooseneck and husband won't let me get rid of the lily. If you dig it up, burn it. It's like the Blob (for those people who are old enough to remember that movie)

  • Nancy Kozak Pollera
    on Jul 5, 2016

    How do you get rid of Lily of the Valley and Gooseneck Loostrife plants

    • Murray Osborne
      on Sep 22, 2016

      I had planted these in my bordered garden but when I learned that they were invasive I just began pulling them out and continued as they sprouted leaves. Over the 2 year growing period I did not see them again.

    • Nancy Bilava
      on Oct 12, 2016

      move!! they are so pretty in a spot, but will absolutely take over .

  • Shirley
    on Oct 1, 2016

    Gooseneck invasion. Is there hope to rid my garden of these pests? What worked best, the root systems are awful to deal with. Any thoughts will be appreciated. I am desperate they "OWN" the garden (sadly)

    • Lml8229862
      on Oct 13, 2016

      I dig it out around the edges each year to keep it where I want it. So far (at least 4 years) so good....

    • Jul20755140
      on Feb 14, 2017

      Yes, I do this too...just don't yank the plant. It's roots break off and new plant! I had marked the area when I dug out the "whole" plant and it took me about 4 years to rid it in my home garden. But I have it growing in two separate gardens up at the lake. And keep watch and dig edges out to keep in check. It's gorgeous there as it's a more free wheeling garden(s) style.

    • Jul20755140
      on Feb 14, 2017

      I should add the home garden area was marked and isolated do that I could spray Roundup on any shoots and their roots. I had other flowering perennials surrounding it. It may have been eradicated before four years but I wanted to really make sure lol

    • Lis20928928
      on Feb 19, 2017

      In the spring when it starts shooting out, start thinning it out. Then when the flowers start dying off, snip them off to keep the seeds from germinating. I've had them for years and have been able to keep them under control.

    • Ruth76114
      on Apr 17, 2017

      I planted mine in five gallon buckets. Cut out the bottom and bury the bucket. The deep walls keep the runners contained. Three years now and so far so good! They are beautiful in mass. Do cut the seed heads before they drop.
    • Beverly Cross
      on Oct 24, 2017

      I use a weed kill also to keep mine in check. I have to say that I pull them up when I see babies pupping up where I don't want them in the spring.

    • Revive
      on Feb 4, 2018

      We have had our challenge with gooseneck loosestrife, as it was in the garden when we moved to a new house. OMG what a challenge as it certainly took hold and took over before we realized what was there. It has even come up in the middle of other perennials. WIP right now. I agree, it should come with a BEWARE sign.
  • Ginger the farm gal
    on Mar 22, 2017

    Is this also know as Vernique (TM) White Speedwell? I just bought this plant marked down at Lowes from $8.98 to $1.00, it is in bloom now 3/20.2017 and it looks just like your photo.

  • 8184301
    on Jul 7, 2017

    How can I get rid of goat head sticker weeds? They keep coming back every year, get stuck to the bottom of our shoes and drug inside!
    • Karen Nanninga
      on Aug 1, 2017

      We use to have them. My Amish neighbors say sheep will clean them up. I pulled every one I saw and burned it in the trash. I don't have any now but I still keep a watch for them.
    • Carey
      on Mar 19, 2018

      I wish my neighbor would loan me his sheep if they could clear out the puncture vine (Goathead sticker weeds) My husband and I have fought them for 26 years and never found a way to eradicate them. They were on the property when We bought it and the first year we made the mistake of liking the little yellow flowers and thought that they were probably OK. WRONG!!! My husband is gone not but the Goat heads are NOT!!! I am going to move away from the awful things!

    • Carey
      on Mar 19, 2018

      Two other weeds that just showed up in my flower garden, was wild Morning Glory and the more I tried to get rid of it, the further it spread. It has taken over the flower beds and the lawn. It is a nasty weed to get into the farmers fields and I am sure that it was probably planted by the birds and Virginia Creeper. The birds planted it on my fence and I have tried and tried to get rid of it. No luck. I finally enlisted my husbands help as it has gotten really big. He looked at me and said, It looks nice and you planted it didn't you? NO! I DID NOT! IT MUST HAVE BEEN THE BIRDS AGAIN!!! Well, we did get it a bit smaller that year, but it is massive again now. I love to see the birds, but I am not happy with all the weeds that they and the wind bring in here. : ) The Virginia Creeper spreads prolifically! I would NEVER plant it

    • Sparkles
      on Jul 2, 2018

      To get rid of the morning glory you have to be sure and pluck EVERY seed head and make sure NOT to pop them open while doing so. Or just after flowers hit their bloom maturity you can dead head the flowers BEFORE they make seed.

      Any tiny seed that drops will make more flowers.

    • Sparkles
      on Jul 2, 2018

      mow, mow, mow. keep lawn shorter during seeding time. this makes it harder for them to make the goat heads.

  • Justine
    on May 15, 2018

    Does anyone know how to get rid of trumpet vine? It is the absolute worst plant! I’ve been trying to kill it for three years now. It actually gets into the foundation and water pipes! I’ve even tried thrush from Lowe’s ! Help!

    • Miriam-Ellen Mickey Bonk
      on Jul 15, 2018

      Thrust is a very selective agricultural weed killer and may not be good for Virginia Creeper. Try Groundclear also available from Lowes.

    • Stella Love
      on Jul 20, 2018

      Trumpet Vine and Virginia creeper are two different plants.

  • Sandy
    on Oct 8, 2018

    Does anyone know how to get rid of creeping Charlie. It’s invading my entire lawn. I know it’s a weed, not a flower but looking for any help. We’ve tried all the weed killers normally used for lawn. Can’t kill it.

    • Kathie Watson
      on Mar 10, 2019

      horticultural molasses

    • Lefty 48
      on May 18, 2019

      I had creeping charlie a few years ago, came over from the neighbor's yard! Used 1/2 cup Borax to 5 gallons of water. Put in a sprayer. Got rid of it that 1st season. Hope this helps.

Join the conversation

3 of 563 comments
  • Barb Rosen
    on Jul 10, 2018

    I have tried everything except dynamite to get rid of this stuff. Someone told me the only way to kill it is with Roundup. But I am going to try multiple rounds of straight vinegar sprayed on it. That does seem to set it back.

    • Barb Rosen
      on Apr 22, 2019

      Thanks, Chris - I have actually now tried your concoction as well as a few others and the chameleon plant, Houttuynia cordata, is still alive and well. It will lose leaves but then grow back. Afraid I may have it for life at this point!

  • Lynn
    on Jul 24, 2019

    I got gooseneck strifeleaf through the historical society in the next town they had about five free giveaways which my daughter brought home, incud ing a beautiful dark blue bearded lily of the valley and two other plants i have yet to identify...they all reseed except the lily, and iris.... I put them all in the front garden near the bathroom window....we, ahem, can watch the butterflies and bees flying around while has kept them contained quite well for 10 years and if course any that take root outside the garden get mowed down so have no chance to reseed! Good luck!

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