Certain garden-related websites (and I use the term loosely) like to send out annotated lists—top ten this, ten worst that, six ways to do such and such. And the most disturbing mini-trend in this listicle clickbait is the alarmist listing of “Ten Plants You Should Never Grow,” or (from an eblast I just got) “The Worst Plants for Your Yard.”
There are rarely, if ever, any trusted gardening authorities or scientific studies cited as backup for these lists. No, just phrases like “the consensus is,” “generally speaking,” “studies have shown” (with no link to any), and “gardeners cite.”
You can rest assured that there will always be one or two plants that you’ve never thought would cause any problems and that a plant you’ve been coaxing along for two or three years will be called wildly invasive. The other thing these listmakers love is POISON. Beware! You and your pets are in danger! If you’re snacking on your herbaceous border, you do have some issues that should be addressed, but, as most gardeners know, many common perennials have some degree of toxicity. Fortunately, we and our pets are unlikely to be eating them, or eating them in the quantities needed for any ill effects.
The most recent list I saw (which I will not link to, or to any others) had, as its first direly awful plant, drum roll … ajuga. Really? That’s number one? Oh, but it spreads so vigorously as to “disqualify it for landscape use.” Coulda fooled me. I have several ajuga hybrids I have been trying to use a ground cover in dry shade. I’ve been trying for a while now.
Ajuga may very well be a problem in certain zones, but that’s the other thing with these lists; hardiness zones are never mentioned. The listmakers are assuming a universal authority that pertains over anyone gardening anywhere. Which is ridiculous. They also don’t get into differences between hybrids.
Sadly, I am sure newbie and other gardeners are seeing and believing these and other, sweepingly general lists. Not that certain plants aren’t recommended in a given situation. It’s just that there are better, more responsible ways to educate about them.