Adding greenery or flowers is a quick, simple, yet highly effective way to add visual appeal to any outdoor space. However, whether it be for community common areas, or for personal backyards or garden boxes, there are some flora that, although tempting, you may want to think twice before planting.
Whether it be its perfect green hue, or the smell that transports to a southern porch, rocking slowly while sipping a julep, mint has enticed home gardeners for countless years. It is true, mint has many attributes that make it seem like a great addition to a home garden, or decorative outdoor space: It grows quickly, giving nearly immediate gratification to the hurried horticulturist, it does well in areas that receive full sun, or partial shade and can adapt well to nearly any type of soil and is seemingly impossible to kill. Unfortunately, Mint is a bit like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. These same characteristics that make it an enticing plant, can also be the downfall of the amateur gardener. Mint grows well… VERY well. Because of its hardy nature, and the fact that mint spreads through runners underground, this persistent plant can very quickly take over your entire garden. If your longing for that iconic scent and look, or perhaps, a proper mojito, is just too strong to resist and you feel compelled to plant mint (despite the potential downfalls), it would behoove you to relegate it to planters or barrels, so that it keeps to itself.
It is impossible to deny the visual impact that can be made by the stunning blue-purple flowers flowing down off of delicate green vines. Wisteria is, no doubt, a beautiful plant capable of improving the look of nearly any space. Moreover, it can live, literally, hundreds of years. For these reasons, it would seem as though Wisteria is a near-perfect option for anyone looking to beautify their space. Yet, gardeners beware, Wisteria requires constant pruning in order to keep it from taking over your entire garden or greenspace. Wisteria also has a root system that can send shoots upward from the ground quite a distance from the main plant, making it even more difficult to corral. If you have the time, space and dedication to give to this bold beauty, by all means, plant away, but be sure that you are ready for the commitment.
Ivy has long been a favorite of gardeners looking to add an elegant aesthetic to their outdoor spaces. It softens the appearance of hardscapes like brick buildings and walls, which makes it very appealing for those seeking to spruce up the exteriors of community buildings. It spreads quickly, in all directions, making it perfect for covering walls and fences. However, ivy can get out of control very quickly, clinging to any and all surfaces, including other plants like trees and bushes. This vivacious vine also has a nasty reputation for damaging the surfaces that it covers. Additionally, ivy can be poisonous to dogs, causing potentially severe gastrointestinal issues, something that the furry residents of your community (as well as their less-furry, two-legged counterparts) would certainly disapprove of.
Pretty Flowers and Fido don’t Mix
Speaking of our furry friends, there are many common flowers that, although beautiful, pose a very real problem to our four-legged companions. Daffodils, though beautiful and iconic, can cause digestive issues like vomiting and diarrhea, as well as low blood pressure, and even cardiac arrhythmia. Tulips, if ingested, can cause depression of the central nervous system, and convulsions. Many types of lilies can cause kidney failure. Even Baby’s Breath, those tiny white (occasionally pink) flowers so often included in bouquets, is poisonous to pets, and can even cause skin irritations in humans when handled. The takeaway...do thorough research before planting any flowers in your personal or community spaces to ensure the safety of all residents.