by Connie Oswald Stofko
Sometimes we get plants that just show up in our gardens. If we want to keep those plants, we call them volunteers. If we don’t want those plants in our garden, they’re weeds.
An interesting plant arrived in one of my garden beds this spring. I didn’t know what it was and wasn’t sure whether it was going to be a volunteer or a weed.
It grew about five feet tall and got pretty little daisy-like flowers. It’s been blooming for about two months.
It was a fun plant, but I still wasn’t sure if I should keep it. Was it going to get out of control?
If you’re in this situation, you should do what I did: contact the Master Gardeners in your county.
I talked with Margaret Raupp and Lyn Chimera, both Master Gardeners in Erie County.
The plants in my garden are nearly as tall as I am, but you may have seen other Erigeron species that are shorter, such as Erigeron pulchellus, which grows only 18 inches tall.
Erigeron annuus grows as an annual or sometimes as a biennial. (In the first year a biennial grows stems and leaves, then comes back and flowers the second year.)
Is this plant a keeper?
“I love it because it’s a great cut flower,” Chimera said. “The more you cut it, the more it blooms down the stem.”
Ooh! I wish I had done that this year.
But Raupp isn’t as big a fan of Erigeron.
“This pops up in my garden all the time.” Raupp said, referring to a shorter species. “I usually pull it out or it would be everywhere. It is very sweet though.
“If someone is embracing the wildflower/meadow look in their garden, this would fit in. In the approximately 30 acres that we maintain as meadow this plant is a player.”
I have just a suburban yard. Should I keep my Erigeron annuus?
“It is not hard to pull out,” Raupp said.
That was encouraging.
“The daisy fleabane never comes up where I want it,” Chimera said.
Hmm. Now I’m hesitant.
“I used to transplant the seedlings to make a nice clump,” Chimera said. “Now I just let it pop up wherever it wants and pull the ones I don’t want.”
She does try to encourage the daisy fleabane to grow where she’d like it.
“I cut the seed heads in the fall and place them where I want them but they still have a mind of their own!” she said.
I will try to get this interesting, native plant to grow and bloom elsewhere in my yard.
Bonus tip: Mullein, Queen Anne’s lace, pokeweed and lesser celandine. Find out if these are volunteers, weeds or invasive plants in this article.
Readers: Do you welcome daisy fleabane or other plants in your landscape? Why or why not? Please leave a comment.