Invasive. It is a word that is closely related to prolific; however, invasive refers to a plant that will invade an area and kill any other flower, shrub, or tree in its path. A few invasive plants can be controlled but many are aggressive and can over run an area in a matter of a couple years. Ivy, Kudzu, Japanese Honeysuckle, and Wisteria are a few on this list of the plants that ‘do not play well with others’.
In the south (I am in zone 7) there are many plants that ‘do not play well with others.’ Many are favorites of people who enjoy them in their yards and beds not knowing the detrimental effects of these invasive plants climbing on their trees and homes. Unfortunately these plants are being sold by many garden centers and big box stores without the label warning the consumer that these plants are invasive and, without a great amount of work, cannot be controlled. Ground cover most often means invasive. I know, sometimes you want a plant that will cover an area and require no work but there really is no such thing as maintenance free. Ground covers are just that-they cover the ground and nothing else will grow with them!
If you do not know what a plant will truly do in your garden, then let me give you homework before planting-walk through your area and see what plants are climbing and growing all over other plants and homes. Go to older neighborhoods and see what is growing. Google invasive plants in your state and get the list before you purchase. In many zones there are invasive plants and colder climates are no exception. In colder climates these plants just take longer to grow and become troublesome. Know what you are planting- if it is a vine, ground cover, or even bush-know how it will grow because many invasive plants grow sending out shoots or roots when the branch or leaves touch the ground.
If you love the look of ivy climbing on your home, then know that ivy can break down the mortar on the joints in your home. Ivy can creep under siding and boards and push your siding out causing water to penetrate and rot your home. Ivy will kill any tree it climbs. If you use it as a ground cover, just be sure to go out every time you mow to chop and pull up any vines that creep into other areas or up trees.
Gardening is a rewarding and sometimes very fulfilling hobby or lifestyle. Gardening requires us to understand that our human interaction with nature through planting and cultivating can have a positive as well as a negative effect on our environment. It is through our understanding of plant behavior that we can create a beautiful world.