Ten Easy Tips
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Invasive, Big, and Dangerous Herbs, Pests and Diseases, Medicinal Value, and Dangerous Herbs
Since invasive seems to be synonymous with this lovely plant, you should consider growing it in containers or with a barrier sunk into the ground at least 10 inches deep. If mint is grown in the ground, with no barriers, it will spread laterally, and your only control is to patrol regularly and pull out the spreaders.
For more, see the Mint Page
This herb is probably too dangerous to grow in a garden where family and friends will be wandering through, and though the plant is beautiful, with blue delphinium-like flowers on tall spikes, all parts are poisonous, especially the roots. This plant should not be handled- even contact with the skin, in some cases, can be fatal.
Horseradish is a wonderful condiment as well as being salt-free and nearly calorie free. It is also very easy to grow. In fact, this plant is so easy to grow you must be careful - horseradish will take over an area and it is not easy to get rid of once that happens. Even the smallest bit of its long taproot left in the ground can become a new horseradish plant. This plant is big and likes the sun and will grow well in a container, though if your winter is harsh, it should be treated as an annual.
- Sweet Woodruff
This is one of the best ground covers there is, and it likes the shade, but it is invasive with a dense mat of roots below the ground. It is an easy plant to grow and is quite lovely with small white flowers and dark green leaves. If you have an area to cover quickly, this is the one. Sweet Woodruff usually dies back in the winter.
- Pests and Diseases for Herbs
There aren't many to worry about, but one of the worst is 'rust' on mint. It is easy to spot- blotches and spots the color of rust appear on the leaves. The best way to solve this problem is to throw out the plants and start over. One of the more common ways to encourage rust and other diseases is by overhead watering in the evening.
Aphids are another common and easily controlled problem. Buy a bag of ladybugs (ladybugs enjoy the delicate flavor of aphids more than anything.) Other treatments include insecticidal soap, squashing, or blasting with a hose.
- Don't Eat These Herbs!
Chaparral, Comfrey, Penneyroyal, Goldenseal, Sassafras, and Tansy. These are either unsafe or contain cancer causing agents. Even Angelica (see Shade Loving Plants) has been shown to cause cancer and skin reactions ("The Honest Herbal" by Varro Tyler). Rue may be interesting in the garden but it can cause skin rashes so remember to wear your gloves!
- Other Invasive Plants That Spread
Tansy: This is a, large plant grown for the yellow flowers that dry well, but it will spread into its neighbors. The stems become very solid and are difficult to remove, so give some thought when planting it. Costmary is another big plant that spreads, but luckily isn't very difficult to remove. The young plants, dried or fresh, are scented and are very nice for potpourris.
- Pretty but Poisonous
Foxglove, or digitalis, is a tall plant with lavender to white bell-like flowers, and a beauty that kills. Ingesting this plant is not recommended. Wallflower is another plant very similar to foxglove. Wormwood is an elegant plant used for ornamental reasons. Once used to make absinthe, it is unsafe and now considered dangerous if ingested.
- Tall Buttercup
This is a reminder that all buttercups are poisonous. This particular variety causes skin irritation as well- blisters, ulcers, and other unwanted side affects can be had from these little plants.
- Chinese Lantern
This may have been used in the past as a medicinal herb, however modern use is for the most part, ornamental. It is possibly toxic as well as being extremely invasive. It has tough underground roots that quickly take over an area. This plant needs its own space.