Are these native perennials going to be invasive at all?

prairiemoon2 z6 MAMay 28, 2006


We just spent an incredibly long time clearing out our yard and getting rid of plants that got away from us. We have a fresh start on a small 1/4 acre lot and I am trying to go as native as possible without creating any maintenance problems for us.

I would love to add joe pye weed, asclepias, native asters,liatris, and echinaceas. I just want to make sure before I add them, that they are not going to eventually become a problem for us. A problem for us would be if they reseed tremendously, if they outgrow their predicted space and encroach on neighboring plants, if their root system makes it difficult to remove the plant, especially if when you attempt to dig it out, any root you miss, turns into another plant.

What would be okay for us...if we have to divide them maybe every 4 yrs, if they gently reseed, if they increase in size at a slow to moderate rate, without taking over the yard. If they can easily be dug out and given away if they don't work out for us.

Can someone share their experiences with these native plants?

Thanks :-)

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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Oh, I was also going to try to add Little Bluestem grass and wonder the same questions as above?


    Bookmark   May 28, 2006 at 5:56PM
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philmont_709n2(z6 Ohio)

i have seen some asters get out but i dont think they would be a very big problem to remove.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2006 at 8:06PM
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rsmallen(z6 PA)

I have recently done the same thing on about 2/3 acre. My design came from a professional who specializes in natives and natural landscaping. All of the plants on your list are in my new yard except the Joe Pye Weed. I can't say if that is more because of its cultural requirements that hte yard did not meet or because it would not be a good choice for my goals. My goals were...native as possible, reasonably civilized so the neighbors are not appalled, habitat for birds, small mammals, encourage hummingbirds and butterflies and above all else, after the garden is established it must be virtually maintenance free. I like the idea of a garden but not hte gardening. So I have lots of groundcovers so there won't be weeding. Things like that. As to the plants he some cases they were smaller versions of the species depending on where they were Kim's Knee High rather than the species. As to Asters, he chose Aster Oblongifolius "October Skies". I think it may be a bit more restrained than some others.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 6:18AM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

I grow all of the plants that you mentioned.

First of all we should define invasive. None of the plants are invasive as in detrimental to agriculture or natural habitats.

You are more concerned with "aggressiveness" in the sense of a landscape or garden.

All of the plants you mentioned have extensive root systems. However, if you want to remove them, you can dig the core of the roots out and missed roots will not resprout. Its the extensive root systems of these plants that make them desirable, drought resistant, disease resistant, they won't need soil amending or fertilizers etc...

Little blue stem tends to spread and cannot be divided without a saw... its does widen and spread, but slowly ...

The rest of the plants do widen as they grow and they will tend to fill in the space that they are given.

The grass (LBS) is recommended to fill in between the flowers because without the competition from the grass the flowers tend to get top heavy, wide and fall over. The grass interplanted with the flowers helps keep them from falling over...(my observational opinion)

The asters tend to reseed readily and some species are considered aggressive. It depends upon the species and your growing conditions. (This can easily be controlled by dead heading the flowers not letting the seeds hit the ground...)

Some of the aslpeias spread readily too, depends upon the species and your soil conditions. Asclepias are quite lovely and make excellent landscape plants. I think they can be controlled fairly easily by snipping the seed pods before they open.

If you do plant those plants, get ready for lots of butterflies. All of those plants are butterfly favorites and you will enjoy both the beauty of the flowers and butterflies.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 9:54AM
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Most of the plants you list will possibly spread by seed (Aster, Echinacea, Liatris) and/or by runners (Asclepias). With the exception of common milkweed (A. syriaca), none of them are invasive by my standards. They tend to fill in gaps in your planting, producing a more naturalistic look (which I like). They may encroach or overtop smaller species.

Most asters do get large and they will spread by seed if they like your conditions. Joe-pye weed can get HUGE. Both of these can be maintained at a smaller height by cutting them back by one-third to one-half early in the season. My asters are due for a haircut this weekend. This year I will experiment and let my Joe-Pye grow as tall as it wants. It is about six feet tall already and flower buds are barely visible.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 4:37PM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

I think john mo's post is an excellent example of different soil and growing conditions. In my yard, its the asters that get HUGE and get a trim, while joe pye is left to grow at his own pace, the joe pye spreads but not as quickly as the asters or culversroot.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 5:46PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Gee thank you all so much for all the great input.

philmont...thanks for sharing your experiences with asters. I am happy to know if they do reseed they can be pulled out easily.

Robin, that is very encouraging that your professional chose these for the goals you specified. I would have had similar goals so I was happy to hear that.
Joe....thanks for defining invasive..yes you are correct, I am more concerned with aggressiveness. I am relieved to hear that if I need to take them out, missed roots will not resprout. With the reseeding...I guess I could control the extent of the reseeding by deadheading some or most of the flowers.

John...I hadn't thought about keeping them smaller with pinching. I am hoping to try to let them grow as they like for one year but it is good to know that I could get a different result with pinching if I wanted to.

Lots of help here, thanks very much in helping me to think through how I can accomodate these great plants in my yard.


    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 8:43PM
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I enjoyed reading all the postings and they tend to go along with my experiences, both in my home garden and as a professional for the past 10 years. I also cut some plants in half or thirds--especially around my front door--rosin weed (for example) is very pretty and well behaved when treated this way.
The natives that I usually avoid because they are too aggressive here in Kentucky are Ratibida (grayheaded coneflower); almost all coreopsis--(one exeption--I like the tall coreopsis--true to its name is is tall, but not outwardly bound); and the grass that people call sea oats-- it spreads everywhere when given a chance. If you avoid those, the rest are slow enough in growth for you to get to know. Some people have problems with ashy sunflower, but I haven't. Good luck and have fun with your native plants--you will love the birds and butterflies you will attract!!

    Bookmark   June 2, 2006 at 3:56PM
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pam_aa(z5 Berwyn Il.)

I have found that Cup Plant, Silphium perfoliatum, is extremely aggressive in my loamy-sandy soil. I get HUNDREDS of seedlings every spring, tough sneaky little buggers too! The Mother plant is easily three feet across and twelve feet tall at flower, and the birds go bonkers over the seed. I've tried pinching it back to shorten it and and it didn't do very well cosmetically. Although I consider this plant in the way high maintenance category, it is too magnificent not to include, just be warned.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2006 at 7:58PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Hi Pam and Katherine..

Thanks for your input too. I am determined to provide as much for the birds and butterflies as I can and to use as many natives as I can, but have to keep yourself on track to be able to care for it all. So it is important to know what you are in for. Pam, I couldn't give that Cup Plant that kind of maintenance so I really appreciate having that information. Although I wasn't considering using it right now, who knows, at some point I might have been. I have seen the plant and it is really a great plant.

I also have had enough experience with coreopsis to know how much of it I can contend with, and after having read a number of posts on the problems with sea oats grass, I have thankfully stayed away from that one.

Yes, I am looking forward to the birds and butterflies.
thanks :-)

    Bookmark   June 16, 2006 at 5:37AM
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Make sure you put a shallow dish with water, or better yet fill it with sand, THEN water, for the butterflies to get a drink without drowning. I also put rocks (some low, some high) in a regular ground birdbath for the smaller birds - and so no one gets trapped.

I have aromatic aster and false aster that have tripled in size in one year. Wish my butterfly weed had done that!

    Bookmark   June 16, 2006 at 4:34PM
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I'd just like to say that my garden has many of the plants you list, and they all reseed. In fact, about half of the "weeds" I get are in fact volunteers of my flowers and need clearing out. On the other hand, this gives me lots of seedlings to move around if I want, and sometimes the spots they choose are better than the ones I choose for them. One reason I enjoy gardening with native species.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2006 at 3:13PM
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