Spider Plants & Other Invasives

spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum) Photo credit: Starr Environmental / Foter.com / CC BY

spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum)
Photo credit: Starr Environmental / Foter.com / CC BY

I remember the first time I saw a spider plant. It was hanging in a basket from the ceiling of a sun-splashed living room. I examined it with mouth agape, astonished at the numerous baby plantlets that had grown out of the mother plant and were hanging all around it.
In truth, there was something too-good-to-be true about this pendulous specimen with its perfectly striped and shiny leaves, cloned to perfection in its miniature offspring. I thought the plant was artificial.
Only later was I to discover the deceptive charms of the spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) as a garden selection. If you plant it in the ground, you may never get rid of it. In addition to whole new plants produced on propagation stalks, an aggressive tuberous root system ensures its survival through drought, frost and the most heroic hand-pulling attempts to control its growth.
Sprenger’s asparagus (Asparagus densiflorus ‘Sprengeri’) is another pesky plant. It is attractive enough with its springy and billowy growth habit and long shoots of light green, needley leaves. But once you have planted it, you will probably have it forever. Sprenger’s asparagus has tubers, any of which can spring up into a giant prickly green mass years after you thought it had been eliminated from your garden.
Asparagus setaceus, or fern asparagus, is a vining specimen with the laciest, most feathery leaves imaginable. This soft foliage, which is used in cut flower arrangements, does a wonderful job of camouflaging wicked triangular thorns that sprout from wiry stems. Because of its thorns, fern asparagus discourages extrication from the surrounding plants into which it grows.
Have you ever seen ivy kill a tree? This is not an uncommon occurrence in side yards or in out-of-the-way corners of large backyards. What begins as a romantic notion – how pretty the neat green ivy looks climbing up a bare tree trunk – ends in disaster when the ivy arches and spreads over the tree’s foliage, depriving it of light and life.
Of all invasive ornamental plants, the most seductive, by far, is Hall’s honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica ‘Halliana’). It flowers on and off throughout the year with fragrant flowers that can change color from gleaming white to deep yellow. This plant grows with a zeal unmatched by any other vine or ground cover.
It is an excellent choice for hiding a chain-link fence where water is scarce, since it quickly grows up to 15 feet high and requires no more than a single monthly soaking once established.
Just don’t plant any other species in its vicinity. It will literally bury neighboring plants under its rapidly proliferating shoots and leaves.
Common fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is recommended for gardens since it attracts beneficial insects and swallow tail butterflies. However, it self-sows with rapidity and, reaching several feet in height, will steal the light away from surrounding plants.
Another aggressive self-sower is feverfew (Chrysanthemum parthenium). Known for its medicinal properties, the feverfew plant is a mass of small daisies and lacy leaves that requires minimal water. Golden bamboo (Phyllostachys aurea) has underground rhizomes that cause it to spread without conscience, wreaking both softscape and hardscape havoc. Sword fern (Nephrolepis exaltata), aptly named on account of its fierce determination to fight off all vegetative competition, is one of the few plants recommended for planting under pine trees on account of its capacity for hiding fallen pine needles among its foliage.

Photo credit: Starr Environmental / Foter.com / CC BY

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