Perennial Plants to Avoid Adding to Your Garden: A Guide to Finicky Choices

Perennial Plants to Avoid Adding to Your Garden: A Guide to Finicky Choices

If you are an avid gardener, you know how important it is to choose the right plants for your garden. While there are many beautiful perennials to choose from, not all of them are easy to grow. In fact, some can be quite finicky and require a lot of attention and care. In this article, we will discuss some of the perennials that you should avoid adding to your garden.

One of the perennials that you should be cautious about is the rhododendron. While this plant is well-known for its stunning flowering and fragrance, it can be quite difficult to grow. Rhododendrons prefer acidic soil and a shaded site. They are also prone to a variety of pests and diseases, such as black rot and powdery mildew. Additionally, they require regular pruning to maintain their shape and size.

Another perennial to avoid is the orchid. While orchids are known for their beauty, they can be quite temperamental and require specific growing conditions. Orchids thrive in humid environments and need consistent irrigation. They also require a specific fertilizer, such as ferti-lome Orchid Food, to promote healthy growth. If you are a beginner gardener, it is best to start with easier plants before attempting to grow orchids.

Finally, one perennial that may not be suitable for your garden is the pine. While pine trees are commonly seen in larger landscapes, they can be challenging to grow in a home garden. Pines require well-drained soil and prefer cool temperatures. They are also susceptible to fungal diseases, such as pine rot. Additionally, pines can be difficult to propagate and may not grow well in southern climates.

When selecting perennials for your garden, it is important to consider their growing requirements and attributes. If you want low-maintenance plants, it is best to avoid those that require special care and attention. Instead, opt for hardy perennials that can withstand a variety of conditions. Some examples of easy-to-grow perennials include the ‘veitchii’ and ‘prostrata’ varieties of rhododendrons, which are more tolerant of different soil types and temperatures.

In conclusion, while there are many beautiful perennials to choose from, it is important to select ones that are suitable for your garden. Avoid plants that require specific conditions, such as orchids and pines. Instead, opt for hardy perennials that can thrive in a variety of environments. By choosing the right plants for your garden, you can ensure that it remains a source of beauty and enjoyment for years to come.


Gardenias are a popular choice for gardeners due to their beautiful and fragrant blooms. However, they can be quite finicky and may not be the best choice for every garden. Here are some things to consider before adding gardenias to your garden:

  • Gardenias are sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity, so they are best suited for gardens with stable environmental conditions.
  • They are prone to dropping their leaves, especially when exposed to cold-winter temperatures, so they should be planted in a controlled environment if you live in a colder climate.
  • Gardenias are susceptible to various insects, such as whiteflies and black mold. Regularly inspect your plants and use insecticide or other methods to control infestations.
  • These plants prefer well-balanced soil with good drainage. Adding peat moss or compost to the soil can help create a suitable environment for gardenias.
  • Gardenias require frequent watering, especially during the spring/early summer seasons when they are actively growing. However, avoid overwatering as it can lead to root rot.
  • If you want to propagate gardenias, it is best to do so through cuttings rather than from seed. Take a cutting from a healthy plant and root it in a mix of potting soil and perlite.
  • There are many varieties of gardenias available, including the dwarf ‘Radicans’ and the larger ‘Miami Variegata’. Choose a variety that suits your garden’s size and preferences.
  • Gardenias can benefit from the use of a well-balanced fertilizer, such as Ferti-lome Gardenia Magic. Apply the fertilizer twice a year, once in early spring and again in early summer, following the instructions on the package.
  • To encourage more blooms, pinch off faded flowers and lightly prune the plant after the blooming season. This will help redirect the plant’s energy towards new growth and flower production.
  • Extra sunlight can help gardenias thrive, but be cautious of exposing them to direct afternoon sunlight, as it can lead to leaf burn. Provide them with filtered or morning sunlight for optimal growth.
  • Gardenias are known for their delicate and double-flowered beauty, making them a popular choice for table arrangements and gift-giving.

By considering these factors, you can make an informed decision about whether gardenias are the right plant for your garden. While they require some extra care, their beauty and fragrance can be well worth the effort.

Mature Height/Spread

When it comes to selecting perennials for your garden, it’s important to consider their mature height and spread. The size of a plant at maturity can greatly impact its overall appearance in your garden, as well as how it interacts with other plants in the surrounding area.

In general, taller plants with a larger spread can create a more dramatic focal point in your garden, while shorter plants with a smaller spread can be used to fill in gaps and provide a more delicate touch to your landscape. However, it’s crucial to match the height and spread of plants with the available space in your garden to ensure they have enough room to grow and thrive.

If you’re unsure about the mature height and spread of a particular plant, it’s always a good idea to consult gardening resources or seek advice from a knowledgeable gardener or plant nursery. They can guide you in selecting the right perennials for your garden based on the space you have available and your desired aesthetic.

Additionally, consider the growth habits of the plant when choosing its placement in your garden. For example, some perennials may have a more upright growth habit, while others may spread horizontally. This can affect how well they interact with surrounding plants and whether they may require regular pruning or maintenance to keep them in check.

It’s also important to consider the maintenance requirements of the plant when selecting perennials based on their height and spread. Some plants may require more watering, while others may prefer drier conditions. Certain species may be more susceptible to pests or diseases, requiring extra care and attention.

In terms of propagation, some perennials may be easy to divide and spread through the garden, while others may be more difficult or delicate to work with. Consider your experience and preferences as a gardener when selecting perennials based on their propagating abilities.

Overall, take the time to thoroughly research and consider the mature height and spread of perennials before adding them to your garden. By selecting the right plants for your space and caring for them properly, you can create a beautiful and thriving garden that will bring you joy for years to come.

Growth Rate

When it comes to choosing perennials for your garden, it’s important to consider their growth rate. Some perennials can become invasive and take over your garden if not properly controlled. On the other hand, some perennials may grow very slowly, wasting valuable space in your garden.

In the morning, southern gardens, the beauty that is gardenias grow best. However, they can be quite finicky and require special care. Gardenias are known for their double-flowered beauty and heavenly fragrance, but they can be a bit high-maintenance. They require regular repotting and cutting to promote new growth. If you’re not careful, gardenias can be susceptible to mold, whiteflies, and other insect problems.

One particular gardenia cultivar to avoid is the ‘Kleim’s Hardy’ variety. While it is marketed as being hardy and cold-tolerant, it may not actually thrive in all climates. The ‘Kleim’s Hardy’ gardenia is more sensitive to cold winters and may require extra protection in colder regions.

Another gardenia that should be avoided is the ‘August Beauty’ gardenia. This variety grows upright and has a compact, rounded shape, making it ideal for small gardens. However, it is prone to root rot and may not do well in poorly-drained soil.

If you’re looking to add a gardenia to your landscape, the ‘Radicans’ gardenia is an excellent choice. It has a low spreading growth habit and can be used as a ground cover. The ‘Radicans’ gardenia is more cold-tolerant than others and is less likely to suffer from common gardenia problems.

When it comes to fertilizing gardenias, less is more. These plants do best with a slow-release fertilizer applied in early spring. Excessive fertilization can lead to leaf burn and stunted growth.

Insecticidal soaps and horticultural oils can be used to control common gardenia pests, such as aphids and whiteflies. If these pests become a problem, you can use insecticides like bifenthrin or cyfluthrin. Be sure to follow all instructions carefully and avoid spraying when bees are present.

Gardenias prefer a well-drained soil with a pH between 5.0 and 6.0. They should be planted in a hole that is twice the size of the root ball and backfilled with a mixture of soil and compost. Mulching around the base of the plant can help conserve moisture and keep the roots cool.

Overall, gardenias can be a beautiful addition to any garden, but they require some extra care and attention. With the right care, they can thrive and provide you with years of beauty and fragrance.

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Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.