Do you use self seeders and are you happy with them?

prairiemoon2 z6 MAFebruary 1, 2014

I have a few plants that are self seeding, that I wouldn't be without. Lunaria, Cosmos and Aquilegia. I have dabbled a bit in California poppies. Portulaca has petered out but I got a good three years or more of reseeding after I pulled them.

I do like some control in the garden. Just don't like it to get away from me and suddenly present me with unusually large amounts of work that I wasn't expecting. So as a policy, I usually stay away from self seeders and anything that has rhizomes. But, I have become more comfortable with the few that I do have and I have not found them to get so out of control that I want to rip them all out. I have violets in the yard too. In the lawn mainly. A white one that was here when we moved in that I don't care for. But I added 'Queen Charlotte' viola that is purple and fragrant and I LOVE that one. I wish it would seed around more than it does. I wouldn't care if it covered half my lawn. [g]

So, how do you feel about self seeders? Do you have any that are driving you crazy, or some that are welcome additions that make you happy?

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I don't mind some self-seeders, though most of mine are annuals and biennials. I dislike the ones that are difficult to remove such as Angelica or Joe Pye weed, though they would probably be fine in a wild meadow. Those required a lot of work with a spading fork to remove the large ones and lots of vigilant grubbing out of the small ones. Feverfew, lambs ears, and Lobelia siphilitica/great blue lobelia produce so much seed that I haven't been able to get rid of all of them. They come up in the gravel drive, in the lawn, in the compost pile, etc.; just generally a pain.

I like Columbine, a light purple meadow rue, Johnny jump-ups, annual poppies, Verbena bonariensis, Digitalis/foxgloves, and Nicotiana. All are easy to remove when they appear where they aren't wanted. Sometimes I have petunias or Portulaca reseeding from my pots into the edge of the beds, and I leave those.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 1:56PM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

If the reseeders are difficult to get rid of then I have a problem with them. Echinops, Knautia, Campanula persicifolia, and Scabiosa ochroleuca are on my annoyance list. I try to keep them deadhead, but sometimes that just doesn't work out.

One of my favorite reseeders is Linum perenne 'Sapphire'- blue flax. Such a great filler plant. Columbine reseed of course, which I don't mind. Only annual that does it is Calendula and perhaps a few wayward poppies.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 2:34PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

why would you need a self seeding perennial????

i multiply my perennials thru division...

and would probably get rid of a perennial.. that was too aggressive in self sowing ....


Here is a link that might be useful: a link from the annual forum ... very simlar to yours.. from the other side of the equation .... started by some nut in Adrian mi ... lol

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 2:52PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Babs, you're right, Joe Pye Weed is a bear to get out, and IâÂÂm going to have to be on the lookout for seedlings in the spring. I missed a couple and last year had to dig out another one in the Fall.

I had Feverfew, and Lobelia siphilitica and never had one seedling. They petered out on me after just a couple of seasons. I never let LambâÂÂs Ear go to seed and I didnâÂÂt have it long. I had Verbena bonariensis for about 5 yrs, but last winter killed them and I think I saw 2 seedlings in the spring. Digitalis, I get a few here and there and wish they reseeded more.

CMK, IâÂÂve avoided using the Echinops, Knautia, and Scabiosa for that reason. All because of kind posters like you who post about your annoyance. :-) HavenâÂÂt tried that Campanula either, but I just looked it up and itâÂÂs very pretty. I know we always think we are going to keep up with the deadheading, butâ¦the best laid plans and all that.

Ken, great minds think alike. ;-) Thanks for that link. IâÂÂll look that thread over. Well, IâÂÂve been pleasantly surprised by those I have because when you like them and they are well behaved self seeders, it does sort of do some of the work for you. And then there is a surprise element every season of where they are going to come up, sometimes creating new combinations that you hadnâÂÂt thought of. So I thought maybe there are others that IâÂÂm missing out on.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 4:51PM
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mxk3(Zone 6 SE MI)

I don't purposely grow self-seeders - like Ken mentioned, can always divide perennials. And some of them are a PITA like brunnera and Joe Pye. Oh man is brunnera a PITA - but I love it anyway :0)

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 5:34PM
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Campanula UK Z8

heaps of them....but try to contain them roughly in the veggie area where the hoe is never far away. I usually treat them as ground cover until I actually have something else to plant in the seedlings space. Right now, the whole allotment is a thick sea of various annuals, biennials and weeds so there is no getting around the endless intensive weeding which defines months of my life. growing in a public space where weeds are always dominant, any tiny bit of soil will be colonised with something (usually wild oat grass). As I am happy to see no soil at all, it doesn't bother me much. I aim to have every inch of the allotment covered in plants I want but until then, I will settle for plants which want me.

As for in my woodland - I am deliberately seeking them out (Hesperis, lunaria, forget-me-nots, hellebores, aquilegias, foxgloves and so on. I need 100,000 plants to fill 5 acres (well, probably half that because there will be trees and paths but still, a lot of plants).

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 7:27PM
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I generally avoid self-seeders but made the unfortunate decision to grow Adenophora pereskiifolia/ladybells from seed via winter sowing. They've now multiplied a hundred fold despite my mulching heavily over corrugated cardboard. The blooms attract pollinators so I'm glad to have them. The fact they self-seed so prolifically is a regrettable consequence. Time to haul out the vinegar.

Like PM2, neither feverfew nor Lobelia siphilitica self-seeded in my garden. The feverfew remains a single plant after nearly 4 years and the Lobelia disappeared after Y2.

A few years ago I discovered Stachys 'Helen Von Stein' which doesn't produce flowers and is therefore not a self-seeding cultivar. The clumps do expand but haven't posed any threat to near neighbors after several years. I'm completely sold on these for their textural & color contrasts in my perennial beds + their season-long appearance.

I have multiple Aquilegia/columbine varieties that bloom profusely each year but I've had few reseeders. I'd welcome any that showed up. Violets, on the other hand, are the bane of my existence. I've poured vinegar on them but that only kills the top growth. They ignore cardboard topped with 6 inches of mulch and persist in growing right up through it.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 8:34PM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

L. siphilitica reseeds like mad in my mulched gardens. I deadhead them and still get a few.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 5:55AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

I used/was tolerant of self-seeders in the early years of this garden, but they are becoming less welcome as the garden - and gardeners - age :-) For years I used feverfew as a filler - and mulch (as the flowers faded, I yanked the plants and left them on the ground to 'compost in place', which worked well). Now that the garden is full of plants, there is less need for the feverfew, so I yank (and leave as mulch still) any that I see. Blue flax is another self-seeding filler plant. I still like that one for the flower color and the ferny foliage so generally leave seedlings be. Campanula persicifolia is the main, annoying sel-seeder in the front that I'm now trying to control/reduce in quantity. They are pretty in bloom and DH likes them - which means they are likely to hang around for quite awhile! :-) Ditto coneflowers - which seed too much. Shasta daisy 'Becky' was a stalwart for years in the front garden but became an annoying spreader by both seeds and roots, so I've been on a campaign in the last two years to get rid of it. Deadheading should control the seeding and daisies NEED deadheading because the fading flowers are downright ugly! But, when there are too many plants of it, deadheading just starts taking up too much time. I'll probably keep one in the driveway border but the rest are gradually getting whittled down.

In the backyard the main self-seeder is the white corydalis. That has become the main filler in the shady beds. It's easy to just yank handfuls if it is growing where I don't want it. I may regret it at some point in the future, but for now I'm happy with it. One thing I was very happy to see seeding in the backyard is the white trilliums! The red ones are also spreading nicely but mostly from offsets I think. I'd be quite happy to have lots more trilliums back there so, while it will take a few years for the seedlings to flower, I'm very happy to have them.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 11:12AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

I have because when you like them and they are well behaved self seeders,

=>>> i think that is an oxymoron ...

when you have a couple... then a few seedlings are ok.. i suppose ...

then you turn your back for a year or two ... and the next thing you know.. you have thousands.. in a 10 by 10 foot area.. and you cant even put a shovel thru the root mass .. just a couple seedlings from each.. mind you l... lol

lol.. live and learn ...

think chameleon plant.. lol .. or chives .... or.. .didnt i do a post on this on year??? ... lol ... or violets.. or bramble.. or.. or.. or ... wonder what the title of it was ....

something about plants you wont give to friends.. but to people who arent friends.. lol ....


    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 11:53AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

mxk3, I didnâÂÂt realize Brunnera self seeded.

Campanula, itâÂÂs so interesting how you garden differently than I do. You must have a lot of energy. :-) I imagine you will have a lot of seedlings to look after in the spring.

Gardenweed, sorry to hear about your Adenophora. I still have to figure out this season if it is Adenophora or Campanula. Either way, I want to get them out of the yard completely, so I stopped letting mine bloom at all. What strength of vinegar do you use and has it worked in other situations?

I have a common Aquilegia that I started from seed that reseeds a lot and I have a cultivar âÂÂDragonflyâ and I havenâÂÂt seen a seedling in 5 years.

Woody, I have a lack of daisy like flowers. I really like feverfews and I was sorry mine disappeared. I should try it again. I grew Shasta daisies two seasons and ripped them all out. Congratulations on the trilliums reseeding, I would be excited about that too.

Ken, I know there are some plants that can reproduce by the 1,000s, I just havenâÂÂt had that experience. Maybe I pack my plants in too closely or IâÂÂm too dry and I mulch a lot. I had Cosmos in one sunny bed for 10 years and every season I couldnâÂÂt have had more than a dozen plants. I never ripped one out, I was always looking for more. ThatâÂÂs what I mean by a well behaved self seeder. I have had chives for probably 20 years and again, maybe 6 seedlings every season. It must be the way I garden. My chives are in a raised 4x4ft vegetable bed surrounded by mulched pathways, so that must limit itâÂÂs opportunities and I do deadhead. I have a small garden and you have a large one, and I think that must make a big difference too.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 3:28AM
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I welcome any self-seeder or rampant spreaders.
My favorite self-seeders are borage & clary salvia. Both attract pollinators & both are big plants that provide lots of compost greens. Dill, other salvias, penstemon, sunflowers & black-eyed Susans are some others.
Black & Blue salvia & many mints are my rampant spreaders. In my yard salvias have the right of way so Black & Blue can spread far & wide. The mints are dug up & thrown into the compost pile when they get obnoxious.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 4:20PM
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gyr_falcon(Sunset 23 USDA 9)

I have Milkweed that self sows for the butterflies. Occasionally I pull up/transplant a few that come up between the patio pavers or elsewhere where I do not want them. But they generally are welcome in large patches and scattered throughout the back of the garden.

Gazania reseeds in the road strips. Because most the front yard is elevated from those strips, spread is controlled.

Ochna reseeds easily, but they tend to sprout only in the immediate zone beside the shrub. They are slow growing, so they never get out of hand. Besides, Ochna is one of my favorite plants, and each seedling is encouraged to thrive. The more the merrier!

Aquilegia, gailardia, passion vines Leonotis menthifolia and sycamore only reseed in limited numbers. The birds introduce loquats and some other unidentified offerings occasionally. Thankfully the ash trees are far enough away that we do not get many sprouting here. But the real pain is our neighbor's hopseed bushes. Ugh! I am always yanking up those seedlings throughout the garden. I wish I could remove those ugly things.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 3:15AM
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I have two self-seeders I love.

Persicaria 'Painter's Palette' seedlings are easy to spot and remove when young and it makes a great filler in my garden.

Humulus japonicus 'Variegatus' is a beautiful vine IMO, and not overly aggressive in my zone.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 10:01AM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

Mulch bores me, I love reseeders (annuals and biennials)! These yank up pretty easy after blooming and I can put in some later annuals or mums to carry through till frost.
Self seeding perennials are a little worse. I pull up any violet I see and avoid anything with deep roots.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 11:06PM
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Joe-pye weed is the one self-seeder that I've had trouble with, but vigilance keeps down its spread.

On the other hand, the self-seeding tendencies of Brunnera macrophylla have been entirely welcome. The original plant has become 8-10 plants scattered around the front yard planting beds, giving me terrific blue flowers for a long period in spring.

I'd love to have feverfew spread itself around, but it hasn't done so. Maybe the reason is the scarcity of bare ground in the garden.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 9:33AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I found a new gardening book at the library that looked promising. It was titled 'Plantiful'. It turned out to be a different book than I expected and it fits right in with this topic. This author decided when she started a new garden that she didn't want to wait for what she considered the usual amount of time for a landscape to fill in, 12 years according to her. She wanted a garden fast. So she went with a lot of self seeders and spreaders.

I was surprised at the plants that she was recommending. Especially since she left out any warnings about how much they could get away from you and become a problem. She did identify any plants that were on the invasive list, which there were quite a few of, but there were plenty of things on her list that were not considered invasive that I would never have in my garden.

Plume Poppy? Mint? Stipa tennuisima, Creeping Jenny, Oxeye daisy. Teasel? I don't know much about that one, but it looked lethal. [g] Mexican Evening Primrose, Perilla and Sweet Woodruff. Chamomile. Maybe some of these could be used in pots, but I wouldn't want them in the ground.

I can't imagine a garden using all these plants. I suppose it is a different style of gardening, but I think you must really love how it all works out because I can't imagine ever getting them all out once they'd been growing for a few years.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 4:54AM
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Campanula UK Z8

Um, yep, am going down that road a bit myself. Wild and bosky acreage, limited cash, time and energy....have decided on the gladiator style of gardening.....or a kind of enforced Darwinism in that various thugs and bullies have been invited to the party, plied with drink and left to get on with it (I expect ripping and tearing, strangling and suffocation, brawling and sneaking). My list, Prairiemoon, would possibly cause mass fainting amongst sensitive types - campanula rapunculoides, symphytum officianale, hesperis matronalis (feeling a bit light-headed yet?), petasites japonica, eupatorium, angelica, silene, betony, wood sorrel, ranunculus.....and going in for the kill with arum maculatum.............

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 11:06AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

LOLâ¦well, you're a different case, Campanula. The exception. Somehow I don't worry about you a bit. You seem to know what you're getting into and have experience with this kind of growing already. I wonder though if there is any concern that some of these plants might escape cultivation and invade natural areas? I know Hesperis, for example, is banned in my state as an invasive, noxious weed.

I can remember the landscape when I was a child and how different it is today. One plant that has become invasive here is Loosestrife. Drive by a body of water in the state and more often than not you see ribbons of the stuff all along the edges, having choked out the native plants that were growing there, so there's no longer a diversity of plantings, but close to a monoculture.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 1:55PM
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PM2 - I've also observed the invasion of loosestrife and not only near bodies of water--any damp/swampy area also appears to suit it just fine. It bothered me not just a little when I learned the person who lives next door deliberately planted it beside his driveway but am pleased that, so far anyway, after 8 years I've never found any coming up in my garden beds.

Convalaria majalis/Lily of the Valley was growing here when I moved in and it took a backhoe + many hours of physical labor to eradicate it.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 7:10PM
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Campanula UK Z8

Um, I wouldn't be sowing Japanese Knotweed, Himalayan Balsam, Epilobium angustifolium or giant hogweed (no, that's a lie, I have the white willowherb)....those really scary monsters - that would truly be irresponsible. Nah, I am going for the second tier rampagers, those which have become naturalised, if not exactly native. We do have lists of dodgy villains (and yeah, lythrum is on it, as well as various aquatic weeds I will be avoiding like plague). I am also thinking of sowing lunaria, Welsh poppies, forget-me-nots, bulbous buttercups....those sorts of things. It has to be an improvement on the demonic trio of completely domineering plants - bramble, nettle, poplar!

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 8:12PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

gardenweed, I've even seen it by the side of the highway. Thankfully, I have not seen any in my neighborhood. I am surprised that anyone could still purchase this plant in our state. Lily of the Valley, I escaped a close call with that one. Someone gave me a patch from their garden and I had heard it spread, so I put it between the house and a cement walkway, but later, after reading about other's who had worse problems with it and seeing how fast it spread, I got it out of there before it was a problem. The plants that I am opposed to using the most in my garden are those that can grow back from a little piece of root after you think you've dug the whole thing out and it's gone.

Campanula, that does sound like a horrible trio you have going on there. Do you do any kind of cover crop to improve the soil at all? That might cover some large patches of ground too while you are waiting to get to some of it and leave you with fewer weeds and better soil. I'm ordering field peas, vetch and oats this year. I usually just do vetch, but I wanted to try something new.

I just heard it is only 41 days until spring! I don't even have my seed yet, let alone sown any.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 9:27PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

paleogardener, I may try borage this year. I could use more greens for the compost pile too.

Ruth, IâÂÂve seen Hops grown on an arbor and it was very pretty. Can be a very useful plant too. :-)

Pretty daisies, Kato!

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 9:35PM
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Hehe, borage gets big, ugly & in the way you'll have no problem sending it to compost :)

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 9:50PM
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My favorite spring reseeder is celandine poppy. Stylophorum diphyllum. Love the yellow blooms, and they last into the summer if kept well watered and in a shadier spot.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2014 at 9:06PM
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runswithscissors(MT 4/5)

I found out that borage has stickers. No, I mean, really! It has alot of stickers. Mine found it's way eradicated!

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 1:55PM
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