To buy, sell and swap plants and use our full service, please log in or sign up - it's completely free.

Wild plants and their flashy relatives

  • Wild plants and their flashy relatives
  • Wild plants and their flashy relatives
  • Wild plants and their flashy relatives
  • Wild plants and their flashy relatives

What weeds are most common in your garden? Lots of nettles? Then you have rich, damp soil.

Field buttercup, Wood aven, mosses and sedges? Then you have wet soil.

Spurge? Dry, well-drained soil.

Dock, thistle and Plantain? Compacted soil. Don't dig it with a spade but after weeding make a few deep holes with the garden fork and cover with a thick layer of organic mulch...

What garden weeds tell us about our soil is a topic worthy of a lengthy piece in itself, but the creative shortcut I'm proposing is to replace them with more exciting versions that have similar requirements.

So look again at the weeds that thrive in your borders and, with a little imagination, you can see the kinds of plants that will be trouble-free.

Here are a just a few examples:

If you regularly go to war with nettles, then (although it is a different genus) you might like to check out Lamium maculatum or Lamium galeobdolon.

If spurge is the fiend, then the genus Euphorbia might be your friend.

If you have lots of buttercup you might want to look at Ranunculus: two garden examples being Ranunculus aconitifolius and R. ficaria 'Brazen Hussy'.

Similarly for Wood Avens, check out other Geums: two common examples are G. 'Mrs J Bradshaw or G.'Totally Tangerine'.

If thistles are driving you insane then why not consider cardoons (Cynara cardunculous) or Cirsium rivulare 'Atropurpureum'; and for Plantain there are garden varieties called Plantago major rubrifolia, P. major 'Frills' as well as P. rosularis 'Bowles' Variety'.

Photos: 1. Euphorbia x pasteuri, 2. Ranunculus ficaria, 3. Plantago, 4. Geum 'Mrs Bradshaw'

Comments (2)

  1. Grower

    Good Earth Gardens

    It sounds like you've got healthy good soil and plants that thrive in it! :-) The fact that Sea Holly us doing well suggests you may have fairly free draining and possibly more alkaline soil than some. I would say that it is normal to have to dig out the odd seedling and divide plants and some grasses and Crocosmia are known to be invasive and may need dividing every year. Then you could swap and sell it here on GreenPlantSwap! Buddleja can be trimmed as soon as it has finished flowering if self seeding is a problem. Whether a plant is a 'problem' in a garden depends on the size of the garden and what can seem like 'thuggish behaviour' of a plant to one gardener can be a godsend to another with a lot of space to fill in an awkward spot...

  2. Grower

    Good Earth Gardens

    I was obviously wrong to guess your soil was alkaline, as being clay, it will be a bit acid! However, Camelias should tolerate acid soil, as my parents have very acid, boggy land and some very healthy Camelia plants. So perhaps it isn't the acidity that has killed them. Maybe avoid planting them right under the canopies of your oaks, as it might be too dry as well as a bit dark, although they do cope with semi shade. Generally you would be fighting a losing battle to try to change the pH of your entire garden, and more organic matter (particularly coffee grounds) will increase acidity, even though they will help the structure of the clay soil, as will leaving the fallen leaves to rot naturally. Egg shells are alkaline but you'd need tonnes of it..Good luck, anyway! :-)

Production v5.9.2 (d960957)