This Plant is Illegal, Kind Of

Argghh! It’s happened to me again. I’ve inadvertently planted an invasive plant in my garden.

A couple of years ago, I attended a garden tour in the Twin Cities. Sponsored by a garden club, the tour ended with a sale of plants. This yellow flag iris was among the plants on sale. “You will love it,” the club member said as I stood in the rain looking over the selections from gardeners’ yards. I do not believe the usual code words for invasive—vigorous, hardy, fills in well, spreads beautifully—were used.

I planted it in my back garden and it did not do much last year. This year, it bloomed  and I was about to write a post praising this lovely yellow iris. But a little research found that yellow flag iris (Iris pseudacoris) is a “regulated invasive” in Minnesota, which means that while it is legal to possess, sell and buy it, the plant cannot be introduced into public areas, particularly public waters. (These iris are quite invasive in water and bogs.)

Since I live within about 100 yards of two drainage ponds (not exactly Lake Superior, but lovely in their own way), I will be removing the iris shortly — and disposing of it. I’ll also be a bit more wary next time I see lots of one plant type at a plant sale.

What plants that are illegal (or should be) have you bought?

6 Replies to “This Plant is Illegal, Kind Of”

  1. Oh, how I cringed when I saw this post. Yes, I have the same plant, not in my garden, but in my pond! Someone gave us a plant when we first built the pond and said it would look nice in the water. It does, or I should say, it did, and when it blooms it’s gorgeous, but it is taking over. We’ve tried digging it out several times only to toss it on the compost heap and see it start growing out there. So now we toss it on our burning pile to make certain it’s gone. We still have a huge hunk to deal with in the dirt-bottomed pond and it just keeps getting bigger every year. Also, if not dead-headed, it self seeds rapidly.

    So you were very right to get rid of this garden thug, good for you!

  2. Mary here in North Carolina we have Yellow Flag, it grows pretty slowly here. I was completely surprised it is invasive. Out pond is full, yes full of water lilies not sure what to do. On Google Earth it looks green not like a pond at all.

  3. Before I really knew about invasives a friend gave me some yellow flags to put by our pond. They haven’t been invasive there (lucky me) but they flew up into our Sunken Garden where I am still trying to eradicate them. I used to let the grandsons loose with clippers. I might be getting them under control now because we removed a fence that allows us to mow that area regularly.

  4. I’ve learned the hard way to ask certain questions at plant sales about invasiveness. I’m now trying to KILL a patch of snow-on-the-mountain. I’ve also had Tansy and Dames Rocket.

  5. Oh, Joanna — Snow on the mountain is the worst!!! I almost planted that but did some research before putting it in, so even though I had bought it, I threw it out. I’ve always been a bit mad at the nursery sales clerk who, when I asked how hardy it was, told me, “Oh, don’t worry, it will survive.” Ha!

  6. Thanks for this great post! I think it’s good to “spread” (apologies for the pun) the word about invasives! I have three in my yard (if you don’t count the Creeping Charlie): 1. Aegopodium podagraria (a.k.a. Bishop’s Weed; some people call this snow-on-the-mountain which is what I call Euphorbia marginata); I admit I like this plant even though it’s not good to have around, 2. Houttuynia cordata which my husband likes and planted despite my protests, and 3. Mentha which I planted because I wanted to have a mojito now and then and didn’t yet know that I could enjoy them forever more! I’d love to know more about both invasives and “vigorous” plants (i.e. hemerocallis which, for me, borders on invasive) since lots of us have these in our yards yet are not necessarily able to remove them (despite all our efforts)!

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