Moving – We Did It, Plants Do It


Sometimes moving is referred to as “picking up roots” and we have done just that – literally and figuratively. We have moved the root balls of perennial plush snuggled inside their plastic containers and we have moved our business, once again.

You will notice on our‘Contact Us’ page on our website we have moved from Bridgeton, NJ about 17 miles (25 minutes) north to Woodstown, NJ.

Please make note of our new location and contact information! Please also note though we have moved and have a larger facility we remain a Wholesale to the Trade only nursery.

We thought this may be a good time as any to talk about plants that move as well.  There are a few ways plants have evolved to move around their environment. Using soil, water, mammals, birds and insects – seeds, roots and modified stems transport plants to new environment and more suitable habitats expanding their range and their likelihood for survival.

As we endeavor to expand our footprint in the industry let’s celebrate the plants that sometimes are considered thugs, aggressive and even invasive in the landscape because of their ability to move around. Specifically let’s examine those that are described as rhizomatous or stoloniferous. Some of us may shy away from these plants upon finding these words in the description. Let’s discuss why we may have an occasion to embrace the spreading plants and include them in our projects.

First a bit of botanical clarification:

Stoloniferous: spreading by stolons – modified stems spreading just at the soil surface.

Rhizomatous: spreading by rhizomes – “stout underground spreading stem” (Botany Word of the Day)

Both of these adaptations are modifications of stems to help the plant spread, store carbohydrates, take up water and help with maintaining the perennial nature of the plant (the reason why some of your short-lived perennials pop up where you never intended for them to be). They are stem tissue, but modified to grow roots at nodes when in contact with soil.

While some may not see the benefit of these plants going wherever they want – there are advantages to this adaptation:

According to a chapter found in Herbaceous Plant Ecology this adapatation benefits the plants by:

  • Effectively responding to environmental constraints
  • Move to places of more suitable light and nutrient availability
  • Ability to grow and reproduce after damage (deer defoliation any one?)

(Benot ML. et al. (2008) Responses of clonal architecture to experimental defoliation: a comparative study between ten grassland species. In: Van der Valk A.G. (eds) Herbaceous Plant Ecology. Springer, Dordrecht)

Mint. When we hear (read) the names of certain groups of plants we know they will run rampant unless bounded in some way. We may choose not to plant them for this very reason. Many of the plants we grow fall into the Mint family and share this trait.

  • Pycnanthemum – Mountain Mints
  • Calamintha – Calamints
  • Nepeta – Catmint

Another group of vagabonds are the Solidagos. The goldenrods have a reputation for taking over a space and while we acknowledge that some of these are not the right plant for a place, their rhizomatous nature lend themselves to certain situations – naturalization, meadows, erosion control etc. And a reminder that though some of the solidagos will run around the garden, there are many species that will not, or will but much more slowly. So don’t write off goldenrods just because you heard some nasty rumors.

The milkweeds – Asclepias are also known to spread around the garden. Many people want to plant milkweed for the monarch butterflies but ignore or, even worse, condemn the common milkweed as roadside weed and garden nuisance. In fact, though it is a host plant for monarch butterflies, has a terrific smelling flower, beautiful mauve flower color, interesting seed pods and is tough as nails we don’t sell it – because we can’t. No one wants it. Considered weedy and too aggressive for the home landscape, this plant is often left to propagate on its own in roadsides, rights-of-way and fallow fields at the whim of municipal land management crews and agricultural management plans. Rarely protected by conscientious home gardeners and rarely specified by landscape architects or landscape designers.

Flowers of Asclepias tuberosa

The flowers of Common Milkweed, Asclepias tuberosa

Of course there are many milkweeds considered desirable and well-behaved, spreading more slowly than their rambunctious cousin and we do have those.

Some other spreading perennials you may want to reconsider for your landscape, or create a place with room for them to roam are the:

Asters – Asters

Silphiums – Rosin Weeds, Compass Plants

Scirpus – Bulrush

Rudbeckias –  Black Eyed Susans, Coneflowers

Helianthus – Perennial Sunflowers

Helianthus divaricatus

Helianthus divaricatus, Woodland Sunflower

Parthenium – Wild Quinine

parthenium-integrifolia (2)

As a reminder, rarely are all of the plants in a genus as aggressive as the next, so take a look at the descriptions and see what will work for your space, remembering diversity is key.

On the flip-side there are some where we wish their slow spreading nature would speed up a bit. When it comes to these ground covers they can’t spread quickly enough!

Carex – Sedges

Geraniums – Cranes Bills

Asters –  Asters

Asarum – Wild Ginger

American Ginger

Soft heart-shaped leaves of American Ginger

Waldsteinia – Barren Strawberry

waldenstina fragaroides

Whether you are wishing they would grow faster or wishing they would stay where you planted them, understanding how and why these plants do what they do can help you choose the right plant for your situation. Also knowing that while all of a particular genus may spread the same way, some of them spread more quickly than others may help in your decision making as well. Finally, remember that the availability of light, space and nutrients may also influence how fast a plant spreads and planted in leaner conditions you may find a plant is more well behaved than you assumed it would be.

We, too, have outgrown our current conditions without a enough soil, space or sunlight for all we wanted to do and so we have put down new roots where there is more room for us to roam.

PS – As an aside – if you are not yet familiar with the blog Botany Word of the Day – check it out! The photos are excellent and it is a terrific resource. The link about Rhizomes above will take you there.


One comment

  1. […] Calamintha nepeta ssp. nepeta – Calamint […]

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