10 High-Maintenance and Invasive Plants to Avoid

Want to spend less time maintaining your garden and more time enjoying it? Think twice about these pretty-yet-problematic plants.

February 10, 2020

Photo By: Shutterstock/Siriwat Chamnanyoch

Photo By: Shain Rievley

Photo By: ProvenWinners.com

Photo By: Shain Rievley

Photo By: Christopher Shane

Photo By: Shain Rievley

Photo By: Image courtesy of Rosanna Freyre, Ph.D

Photo By: Shain Rievley

Photo By: Shain Rievley

Trumpet Vine

Although showstopping and brimming with colorful blooms, trumpet vine's cons often outweigh its pros. This woody plant is very aggressive and is considered invasive in some regions. As its beautiful flowers fade, they produce large seed pods which, as they dry and split, drop hundreds of seeds. The vine will grow and latch on to anything in sight, so it requires substantial support and regular maintenance.

Read More: Trumpet Vine Will Grow on You

Bamboo

Bamboo may look like a pretty, peaceful addition to the garden, but don't let that fool you. Once established, bamboo can be impossible to control. It shoots up very quickly and constantly — some varieties grow upward of 3 feet a day. Beware when trying to create a barrier for the plant, as it isn't even deterred by concrete. It's best to keep bamboo in a container to better control its invasive nature.

Read More: Avoid Bamboo Like the Plague

English Ivy

With its charming dark-green leaves, English ivy is often used in gardens to cover shady ground area or to twist up and around outdoor structures. But before planting, know that is very hard to get rid of once in the ground and is considered invasive in some regions. The vigorous foliage will climb over many surfaces and keep coming back for years.

Read More: Remove Clinging Vines

Fountain Grass

Native to Africa, fountain grass is a wide-variety plant that bears beautiful, multi-hued plumes. The downside, however, is its vigorously invasive nature. This ornamental grass crowds out neighboring plants and also produces an abundance of spreading seedlings. It's known to fuel wildfires with its dead foliage, so be careful when and where you plant it.

Read More: Invasive Ornamental Grasses

Vinca Vine

Vinca is great for ground coverage in areas with undesirable soil conditions. But beware, it can take over an area in a short period of time and is very hard to pull. Avoid planting vinca in smaller gardens, and be sure to prune the vine so it doesn’t take over other vegetation.

Butterfly Bush

As its name suggests, butterflies are effortlessly attracted to this easy-to-grow shrub. Even with its elongated, bright blooms, the butterfly bush is considered a noxious weed in some areas. Each pod on a single bloom has more than 40,000 seeds that spread rapidly, allowing it to crowd out native plants.

Privet Hedge

Great as a formal hedge or shrub, privet is a dense, summertime foliage. On the downside, it grows very quickly and usually needs trimming about four times a year. The leaves and berries of the plant are considered poisonous and can affect humans and animals alike. For a low-maintenance alternative, consider laurels or boxwood.

Read More: Pruning a Hedge

Mexican Petunias

Mexican petunias can be a beautiful addition to your garden, as long as you’re careful to choose non-invasive cultivars that can be maintained and controlled. The dark downside to most of these attractive, tough plants is that they grow out of control. The wild form of this plant is so aggressive, it’s banned in some states. The state of Florida lists Mexican petunias as “highly invasive.”

Read More: Mexican Petunias: Plant With Caution

Monkey Grass

Hardy in Zones 4 to 10, monkey grass is easy to keep alive, tolerates full sun to part shade and is often used as a dense groundcover or edging for walkways and garden beds. The downside? It spreads easily, which is great if you’re gardening on a budget, but bad when it gets out of control. It’s so aggressive, in fact, that it’s now considered an invasive plant in parts of the southeastern United States.

Read More: Invasive Ornamental Grasses

Cosmos

Cosmos are an attractive, pollinator-friendly, colorful plant, but can be hard to maintain. Because these pollinators reseed quickly, they’re best used as a street plant or displayed in containers.

Read More: Growing Cosmos from Seed

Shop This Look