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Yesterday, in my latest “Landscape No-No” post, I asked you if you could figure out what was wrong with this landscape that I drove by earlier this summer.

I had some great guesses.  

Here are a few of my favorites…

“The grasses are planted too closely together.”

“There are too many similarly-shaped plants.”

AND

“The large Pine tree is too large for this landscape and planted too closely to the wall where its can fall or its roots can cause damage.”

Well, they are all great answers and are correct.  BUT, there is something else wrong with this landscape, which no one noticed.


Look closely at the two photos below…


Above, is Purple Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’).  


It is a beautiful ornamental grass and is fine for this landscape.


BUT, notice the ornamental grass to the right with the cream-colored plumes.


Here is a closer view…


This grass is also called Fountain Grass, just without the ‘Purple’.


The problem with regular Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum), is that while attractive – it is considered an invasive plant in many areas including the southern half of the United States and Hawaii.


Native to Africa and the Middle East, it spreads easily and is overtaking areas of the desert, outcompeting the native plants and grasses.


The reason that it’s a problem here is that it was widely planted in the mid 20th century.  Unfortunately, that was before people knew it would become a problem.


In this landscape, the homeowners were probably thinking that they were planting the same type of grass as the Purple Fountain Grass (which is not invasive).


SO WHAT CAN BE DONE?


Well, removal is necessary and requires someone with a strong back to take it out.


A great alternative to Fountain Grass that looks even better is called ‘Gulf Muhly’ or ‘Regal Mist’ (Muhlenbergia capillaris ‘Regal Mist’).



It starts out green in spring and summer…



As fall approaches, burgundy-colored plumes begin to appear…



Once winter arrives, the plumes fade to an attractive wheat-color…


Maintenance is very easy – simply prune back to 6 inches in late winter/early spring.

**For more information on Fountain Grass, including on where it is found and how to manage it, click here.

I promise to show additional “Landscape No-No’s” and how to deal with them in the future.
Mexican Evening Primrose (Oenothera berlanderi syn. Oenothera speciosa)
Aren’t these flowers just lovely?
I do love pink flowers. 
Our local big box nursery had quite a few of these on display over the weekend.  
Mexican Evening Primrose is a groundcover the produces beautiful pink flowers in the spring.  They are drought tolerant and hardy to Zone 5 through 9.  They do not require fertilizer and thrive on neglect.
 
Now you may be wondering what secret it is harboring.  Surely a plant with such beautiful flowers cannot have anything to hide, can it?
Well, I discovered it’s secret years ago as a new homeowner.  I was in heaven over having my own garden for the first time.  I discovered these pretty plants at my local nursery and brought some home and planted them in a raised planting bed.  
 
They grew very well and although they were fairly boring when not in bloom, they more then made up for it in the spring when they were covered with pink flowers.
 BUT, one year after I planted them, I began to notice them coming up in my lawn, adjoining beds and the cracks in the driveway.  It was then that I found out that they could be invasive.  They spread by stolons and by seed.  **It was experiences like this one that I had as a new gardener that motivated me to obtain my degree in horticulture.  However, I am still learning as I go along and just when I think I know all about a particular plant – one will surprise me by doing something different 😉
Now, I am not saying not to ever use Mexican Evening Primrose in the landscape.  They do have a place in the landscape.  For example, they do very well along dry hillsides and other areas where their growth can be contained in a particular area.
What I do recommend, is to research a plant before you decide to put in your garden.  Mexican Evening Primrose can be invasive in a residential garden, but can be the answer to a difficult, bare hillside.  This goes to prove that just because a plant has a “pretty face”, doesn’t mean that it is delicate.

**Butterfly Update:  Guess What?!!  The butterflies emerged for their chrysalis.  I will post about them soon!

I hope you all have a wonderful week!