Friday, March 22, 2013

Outsmarted by a Plant! (L is for Lamium)

I thought that I was so darn clever.

Every spring I find myself wishing I had a bit more money for annuals to use in my container plantings. 

It is especially nice to have trailing plants like ivy or potato vine spilling over the rims of my hanging baskets and urns. But viny annuals tend to be expensive, and I can never afford enough to do a proper job.

Then last spring, I saw a number of baskets and containers like the one above that made use of :
False Lamium 'Variegatum' or Lamium galeobdolon ' Florentinum'

"Lord knows I have plenty of that darned stuff! I am forever ripping it out of the garden." I grumbled to myself. 

The False Lamium 'Variegatum' in my garden isn't my own. It's my neighbour's. Each spring it creeps under our shared fence and then spreads like wildfire through the back of my flowerbeds. 

I tear it out, but it always comes back the moment my back is turned. Despite its attractive variegated leaves, I've grown to hate it on sight !

False Lamium 'Variegatum' spreads in two ways. It has diminutive yellow flowers that end up dropping little seeds that look like a grains of black pepper. 

Even more importantly, the plant sends out runners that settle to the ground and root a few inches or feet away from the mother plant. (Think strawberry plants and you pretty much have it pictured.)

Despite my negative feelings about False Lamium, I found myself admiring the pleasing way it spilled over the top of plant pots. 

At least in a pot it was contained and therefore prevented from spreading everywhere, right? 


I got started in this folly by ripping out some plants from my flowerbed and planting them in the window box under my kitchen window. I was so happy with the effect that I pulled out a few more plants and added them into the boxes that hang along the fence just inside the back gate. 

Then I stood back and admired my handwork. Who could argue with free container plants, I thought smugly.

A week or so later I noticed with horror, that the False Lamium by the kitchen window had begun to set seed before the plants had even finished flowering. The little black seeds were in danger of dropping into the garden under the window. 

I got out my scissors and brutally snipped off all the flowers. Disaster averted.

But then a couple of months later, I noticed that the runners which made such a pleasing cascade over the edges of the boxes had reached down almost 4 ft to the ground and were in danger of taking root. I was both dismayed and impressed with the plants determination to create offspring.

It seems where there is a botanical will, there is a way.

As I am sure it is in many of your own garden's, Lamium maculatum is a staple groundcover in my backyard. I have it everywhere- in the shade, and even in the sun (although it prefers a little shade). I find that the most common mauve colored plant is the best proformer and self-seeds everywhere.

Did you know that there are a few other varieties apart from this good old dependable one?

 Lamium maculatum 'Shell Pink' for instance, has pretty, soft pink flowers.

I also have this one, Lamium maculatum 'Aureum' which has heart-shaped chartreuse leaves. 

This Lamium seems to be a bit less robust than the more common variety and prefers half-shade in my experience.

This is probably my favourite Lamium. I like those light silver-green leaves as a goundcover in front of hosta. 

Similar in appearance, Lamium maculatum 'White Nancy' has white flowers. 

'Pink Pewter' had soft pink flowers.

I also really like this other variety of False Lamium, Lamium galeobdolon 'Herman's Pride'. 

It makes a well-behaved, attractive upright plant with somewhat unimportant yellow flowers in early summer. 

What is great about this plant is the silver-green foliage and the fact it likes shade.

Lamium galeobdolon 'Herman's Pride' even tolerates drought.

This is a variety of Lamium that I added to the garden last summer: Lamium maculatum 'Anne Greenway'.

Here it is in a container planting.

For now, I have left the False Lamium, Lamium galeobdolon ' Florentinum' in my container plantings. 

Am I arrogant to think that I can keep it in check? Ask me again how clever an idea this was in the spring, and I may be regretting it immensely. 

As for the rest of the Lamiums I have showcased in this post, I couldn't imagine a shade garden without them!

Have a great weekend everyone!

My garden alphabet so far: 'A' is for Astilbe, 'B' is for ButterflyThree 'C's, 'D' is for DelphiniumThe Letters 'E' and 'F' , 'G' is for Geranium , 'H' is for Hollyhocks, 'I' is for Iris, I have skipped 'J'  and 'K' for now, as I want to do a bit more photography, and today we have 'L' is for Lamium.


  1. Mam też problemy i moja sąsiadka z ta rośliną. Tym razem one u mnie się szybko rozrastają i idą dalej do sąsiadki. Nie chcę sie ich pozbywać całkwicie, ale trzeba je bardzo pilnować. Pozdrawiam.
    I also have problems and my neighbor with this plant. This time, they are with me to quickly grow and go on to the neighbor. I do not want to be disposed of całkwicie, but you have to be very careful. Yours.

  2. Thanks for the reminder, I'm about to start designing new beds and deciding what plants to pick. In my last house where my garden was over an acre, rampant was my favourite word! Now, not so much!!

    Have a great weekend!

  3. Wow. What a pain. But you're right - for plants, where there's a will, there's a way. I actually have the opposite problem when it comes to lamium - it doesn't survive all that long in the heat down here. Or at least not long enough to take over...

  4. Hi Jennifer
    Your False Lamium problem sounds like my goutweed (Aegopodium) problem, as far as invasiveness goes. I feel bad for you because gardeners have enough to do without worrying about pesky spreaders! But I would have done what you did - put them in a planter! They sure did look lovely there. Too bad the little pests found a way to take over more of your garden. Thanks for the shots of the other "good" Lamium plants.

  5. I would never let lamiastrum anywhere near my garden, but I love Herman's Pride. I actually think the flowers are spectacular. I think the best labium is Shell Pink because unlike all the others it blooms nonstop from April to October.

  6. I adore my lamium but will not grow the false as you have stated all the reasons why already. I did think as I was reading this post that maybe the lamium would look good in pots as I have lots to spare....I may just try it this year...thanks for the great idea!

  7. I don't grow any Lamium, though I like the Aureum and Red Nancy varieties that you show there.

  8. I like them will thay grow in zone 9??? all i have is swedish ivy

    1. Sharon, A quick look online confirms that Lamium is hardy in zones 2 to 9.

  9. Such beautiful photos, I was lost in their colors.

    Good reminder to keep the invasive plants out of the garden no matter how pretty they are. I made a huge mistake in my early gardening years when a greenhouse owner sold me creeping charlie as a ground cover. Can you imagine?? I have never been able to fully eradicate the stuff in over 30 years and I am so ashamed to admit that I planted it myself. I often think the guy who sold it to me was sadistic, he HAD to know what he was doing.

    I love the way the lamium looks in your planters, and good for you for heading it off at the pass before it became like my nightmare. Oh, have you ever tried rooting cuttings of plants like sweet potato vines? They root amazingly easy. I usually buy one plant and can make six or seven new ones from the cuttings.

  10. I never realised that there were so many varieties. Like you I have a problem with it rooting itself all over the place however hard I try I never seem to be rid of it. Hey ho!

  11. I used this last year too in my planters - it was a quick and easy solution...I'm laughing at myself now because I actually replanted my lamium back in the garden come fall...I have a great deal of this as well but it hasn't spread that quickly for me. It truly did survive our drought filled summer last year, and for that reason I do like to keep its fresh green leaves around. Lovely post!

  12. Congratulations! It sounds as if you are learning to love your weeds... If only I could do the same for couch grass/twitch grass/ Elymus repens.... whatever I call it, it still makes me want to shout!

    The only Lamium I grow is Lamium maculatum 'White Nancy', which I grow for its hauntingly beautiful foliage.

  13. I didn't realize there were so many types....I used to have it everywhere in the garden too, then the snows two years ago completely killed it off and I've never seen it since.xxxxx

  14. Jennifer, I have False Lamium growing near my pond and was fighting against it all last summer, it tried to get to water, hostas, roses. I didn't know it's a weed! This summer I'll take it away.
    Have a nice weekend!

  15. You made me smile, as a gardener I too have made "mistakes" with what I thought was a brillant idea.... Lamium being one of them , beautiful plant but uncontrollable.Never tried it in a container and it does look pretty......Hum maybe?

  16. I've never grown lamium since I've heard such horror stories. I didn't realize there were so many different ones. Hard not to be fooled by something so pretty!

  17. Hi Jennifer....This post made me laugh! I've never heard of Lamium, but don't think I would plant it after reading your post. This makes me think of the Evening Primrose I planted. It is taking over one of my beds. I've tried digging it out but it just keeps coming back. I've gotten to the point of hating that Primrose. Recently I almost made another BIG booboo. I read over and over that every cottage garden should have Obedient Plant. Dispite that fact that I KNEW that it could take over, I planted some. However, I came to my senses in time and pulled it out before it came out of dormancy. Crisis averted!!

  18. you know I honestly had no idea there were so many kinds of lamium. I knew there were yellow and pink flowers but this is a bit of a surprise. Nor did I realize they could seed! I must admit though, those planters really do look lovely. I'm quite partial to the silver touches on the leaves.

  19. The lamium photographs are lovely, Jennifer! :)
    I had no idea of the name, I call them "false ortiche" (fake nettles) in Italian.

  20. I grow lamium maculatum in my shady areas but the lamium you were talking about just gives me the chills!!! Plants that have a mind of their own like that always make me nervous...guess it is the feeling of not having control which is hilarious because do we really have full control over nature!?!? Good job on being thrifty with your containers. I am with you on the cost... Oh if I could just when the lottery!! Have a great weekend lady!!!

  21. Lovely photos of some beautiful Lamiums, but the false Lamiums are a nuisance, I have them everywhere in the garden and think I will pull them out until I die, haha.

  22. Lamiums always make me think of Chicago and the pots they have on Michigan Ave- I love how they always have beautiful pots / plantings. They are great little spillers on pots. I have never planted them myself but they are so pretty and so many choices!!! Great shots!!!

  23. I have lamium, too, and I really love it. I add it to every garden I create. I've never used false lamium and now I'll be sure to steer clear of it. :o) But I do admire its determination to live.

  24. I don't think garden Lamiums spread like that down here, but Red Deadnettle sure does!

    I really like the effect of 'Auream' in the shade. It looks like a ray of sunshine touched down.

  25. We included 'Ghost' deadnettle in one of our Fine Foliage combinations. we loved the raspberry splotches on the silver foliage. Turns out that was due to a viral infection! Oops. We included it anyway - beauty is in the eye of the beholder after all.


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