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10 aggressive plants to keep out of your garden

Hold up! These invasive beauties will quickly take over your outdoor space and prove practically impossible to remove.
By Sarah Nixon
10 aggressive plants to keep out of your garden

There are some plants that are so beloved, we wish they would just take over the garden — imagine if those roses or hydrangeas self-seeded! Then there are plants that multiply in such a small way that they're a pleasant surprise. I love to see Echinacea, Baptisia or Japanese Anemone pop up in unexpected spots. They're also easy to remove.

And then there are the varieties that will take over the garden and prove extremely difficult to eradicate. They usually spread via rhizomes, an underground stem which puts out new growth and produces new roots. (If even a small piece of rhizome is left in the ground, it can generate a whole new plant.)

Here are 10 plants to avoid:

10 aggressive plants to avoid planting in your garden


Many varieties including peppermint and spearmint are extremely opportunistic and will spread rampantly. Try planting mountain mint instead, a beautuful, delicious native plant which the bees love, too.  

Mint plantPhoto, Instagram/@lady_robe.

Chinese lantern

Though this is a beautiful plant, make sure you keep it in a container or you will quickly end up with a yard full.

10 aggressive plants to keep out of your gardenPhoto, Instagram/@kajelida.

English ivy

This evergreen climber or ground cover can quickly out-grow its intended space. It creates a thick mat that can choke out any other species and strangle trees and shrubs.

English ivyPhoto, Instagram/@bltstl.

Common orange daylilies

Although attractive, these day lilies will form a thick, difficult-to-remove clump and can displace native species.

Common Orange DayliliesPhoto, Instagram/@ramsydude.

Reed canary grass

There is a native and non-native species of this plant. The non-native is invasive and prefers wetlands. It can choke out other species of plants in the area.

10 aggressive plants to keep out of your gardenPhoto, Instagram/@afflatedzingaro.

Raspberry plant

These are everyone's favorite...until they take over. Remove the suckers that grow outside of their alloted space and set a barrier into the ground to contain underground runners. 

Raspberry plantPhoto, Instagram/@stephjrobinson.


This is a ground cover plant known for its erosion control on sloping areas. It will spread easily — one plant can reach eight feet across — but can strangle other plants it meets. Periwinkle is difficult to remove once it's established. 

10 aggressive plants to keep out of your gardenPhoto, Instagram/@csicsu07.

Bishop's goutweed

Sometimes called Snow on the Mountain, this variegated ground cover can look pretty in a shady corner, but will spread quickly and is problematic to remove.

10 aggressive plants to keep out of your gardenPhoto, Instagram/@daniel_tsarevsky.

Gooseneck loosestrife

This is a lovely cut flower with the sweetest curl to the flower head. Keep in a shady spot to slow their spread and dig up the plants that migrate outside of where you want them. 

Gooseneck LoosestrifePhoto, Instagram/@dkfabrics.

Purple loosestrife

This is one of the prettiest, yet most invasive, species on this list. One plant can create up to 300,000 seeds and the rhizomes are almost impossible to remove completely. Purple looserstrife has taken over wetlands, ditches and marshes all over Canada. It out-competes native species and the lack of biodiversity that results can have wide ranging effects. It has been shown that even supposedly sterile varieties sold in garden centres can actually produce seed and will spread. 

Purple LoosestrifePhoto, Instagram/@bikeboypaul.

Sarah Nixon is an urban flower farmer and floral designer in Toronto. Since 2002 her flower company, My Luscious Backyard, has sustainably grown over 50 varieties of cut flowers in a micro-farm arising in many residential yards in Toronto’s downtown west side. 

This article was originally published in July 2016 and updated in August 2017.

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