Life's Too Short For Problem Plants

This was a statement I heard a couple of years ago from a veteran master gardener. I was taken aback a bit when I heard it because I thought that's what we're suppose to be able to do. We are trained in how to deal with problems, but first and foremost we try to avoid them in the first place. That is the key. Many of us are plant collectors and we like to enjoy our plants,  Collecting plants often times makes for large garden areas to care for so problems plants have to go.

Its kind of like going into your closet and seeing a piece of clothing that doesn't fit right, causes problems or just makes you feel bad to look at it. It takes up space and doesn't add any spark to your wardrobe. You just need to say goodbye to it and pass it on. You then free up space for something that does work for you. Gardens are the same way.

This year I've had a draw the line on a particular plant. I would say the name of the plant, but it was a gift from one of my gardening friends and it just has been trouble in my yard. It may work for someone else, but here it seems to be severely prone to powdery mildew and it reseeds prolifically. It just doesn't make me smile anymore and it needs to go. I've been digging this plant up for days on end and I am so very much looking for a replacement for the area it occupied. 

Today I'll highlight roses:

Roses seem to be a plant that people often feel like they can't get to grow right. They love them, but can't get past the black spot, powdery mildew, yellow leaves and poor blooming. The problem is not the gardener is most cases, the problem is the variety of rose they've chosen. Unless you are a rosarian with knowledge on how to prevent these issues, you're best to go with proven cultivars for your area.

In Texas we use the  Earth-kind™ Roses list tested and proven by Aggie Horticulture and AgriLife Extension as trustworthy choices. 

In the northern U.S.,  Buck Roses are a line of roses tested over the years by Dr. Griffith Buck of Iowa State University. These would fit the bill for more cold hardy cultivars. A nice .pdf publication here on them.

A common rose that I like that grows many places is the Knock-Out Rose™

From a sustainability perspective, choosing plants that require less disease treatment, fertilization and resources are definitely a better choice. Plus, who doesn't like being a successful gardener? I know I do and a lot of the secret is in the plants you choose.


  1. I'm seeing so many Knock-Out roses in large public plantings that I have to think that they're the Bradford Pear trees of this gardening decade!!

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  2. They are everywhere commercially for sure. I hope they can come up with more colors of them soon. I do know from a master gardener's water-wise perspective that many Knock-out roses are being pushed because they are good for xeriscaping. Unfortunately it may make them have less WOW factor as time goes on.

    Bradford pears are a builders special around here too. Fast growth for all of these new subdivisions I guess. Too bad that they are so prone to problems with the way the limbs grow! I think we need more choices going into neighborhoods. (Same way with the problem prone red tip photinias too) :)

  3. You are so right, life is too short for problem plants. I have three personal problem plants. First, mint. Love it, but it's way too successful; it's in all my beds. Want some? Second is lemon balm-same problem. Third is the bee balm, because it isn't successful. I've planted them in various parts of my yard. They get mildew and die. I get mildew resistant varieties. Doesn't matter. I've spent so much psychic energy trying to keep them alive. I quit.


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