Can You Turn Down a Free Plant?

This mess is now gone. It contained a mixture of Ribbon Grass (probably Phalaris arundinacea), False Dragon's Head (Physostegia virginiana), and Four O'Clocks (Mirabilis jalapa) . I pulled it all out yesterday, still blooming. I don't have an after picture yet, but I will once I've planted something nice there. You all know what bare dirt looks like.

The False Dragon's Head and the Ribbon Grass were passalong plants given to me by a well-meaning co-worker when I first moved to my new house and had a blank slate of a garden. Literally, the only plants on my property at that time were the lawn grasses beginning to germinate in the newly sown lawn.

I graciously accepted these plants from her, and planted them in this spot to hold them over until I had a chance to figure out what I was going to do to create gardens. A few years later, in a nostalgic moment, I sowed seeds for Four O'Clocks in this same area, just because my Dad had Four O'Clocks in a few spots in his garden. I remember that they self sowed in the window wells of the basement windows, and I liked that. (Never mind that I didn't plant them near any window wells, because I don't have any.)

If you've been reading along this blog for awhile, you know that I am now on a mission to get rid of these particular plants. Oh, how I wish I had turned down the gift of these plants or thrown them in the trash!

A new reader, "Jennifer", also a Hoosier, commented a few days ago, "As we were ripping out overgrown landscaping in our corner lot bed yesterday, a neighbor stopped and gave us some of that same ornamental grass that you warn about. Now I have to come up with a way of not planting it without offending the nice lady. Any ideas for a graceful exit strategy?"

Obviously I couldn't say no ten years ago to Ribbon Grass. So I'm throwing the question out to anyone who wants to offer advise on this.

How do you say no to someone who offers you a plant you know you shouldn't plant in your garden? Or that you just don't like? Do you have a 'horror story' about accepting and planting a free plant that shouldn't have?


  1. How about planting it in a container? That way it won't spread and if it dies over the winter -- problem solved.

    Alternately, you could very politely go back to the neighbor and say "I was so excited by your gift that I jumped on-line to research it and discovered that this grass has some invasive tendancies. Since this is my first time gardening I think I need to stick to low maintenance plants, but thank you so much for thinking of us."

  2. thank you for the offer but I just cannot plant another..I am sure you'll think of someone who can accept your lovely gift.. > simple and straight to the point. hugs NG

  3. "plant" it in such a way that it is sure to die.

  4. I haven't been given very many plants...I must be hanging around the wrong people! But my privets came partly from my mom and dad and partly from birds...and they are one of the biggest repeat jobs in my yard. I spend a ridiculous amount of time pruning them each year.

  5. I like the idea of planting it in a container. Let it live there for a while, then get rid of it. Explain to the giver that it didn't fit in with your new plan, which it doesn't!

  6. I'd chuck it and if asked about it, I think I'd say that I passed it on to someone else because it was exactly what they were looking for and I couldn't decide on the perfect place for it anyway.

    As for horror stories: well, that Bishop's Weed, Goutweed, Aegopodium podagraria 'Variegatum', whatever you choose to call it, looked pretty darn harmless when I was given a clump. I blogged about it last October. Ugh! It will eat your house - after it has dined on your dog, your cat ... and your kids.

  7. The woman in charge of the local arboretum gave a talk I attended recently.

    The thing I remember the most is one statement:

    "Beware of gardener's bearing gifts."


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