Lavender in bloom

Plants that divide opinion

Which plants came out top in our 'most hated' poll? The results might surprise you...

There will always be plants that divide opinion. For some gardeners they’re plants to be grown and cherished, and for others a horrible eyesore not worthy of a place in the garden.

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Through the years, we’ve carried out several polls to discover the plants that Gardeners’ World Magazine readers like the least. The attributes that come up consistently include large, ostentatious flowers, a thuggish growth habit and overbearing scent.

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Discover the plants that we found most divided opinion, below.


Roses

Rose 'Crown Princess Margareta'
Rose ‘Crown Princess Margareta’

In a 2009 reader poll, roses came out top on the list of ‘most hated’ plants. It turned out that many gardeners consider roses to be high-maintenance, prickly and aphid-ridden. A long flowering period and rich, heady scent aren’t enough for some folk, it seems…

Related content: What to grow with roses


Dahlias

Dahlia 'Berliner Kleene'
Dahlia ‘Berliner Kleene’

Like roses, dahlias are often written off as being ‘blowsy’ or overly extravagant. However, it’s this bold colour, form and long flowering season that other gardeners love. In our 2009 poll, dahlias came 10th on the ‘most hated’ list.

If you do dislike the showier cactus and ball-type dahlias, you could consider growing single-flowered varieties. With fewer petals, these flowers have a more pared back appearance. They’re also much better for wildlife because pollinators can access the pollen and nectar.

Nine of the best single-flowered dahlias to grow


Lavender

Lavender 'Felice'
Lavender ‘Felice’

Lavender has an unmistakeable aroma that for many induces feelings of rest and relaxation. For others it’s this scent that is the problem – some find it too soapy and conducive of sneezing.

If you’re not a lavender fan, you could try growing a less scented species such as Egyptian lavender (Lavandula multifida), or different a plant altogether with a similar appearance, such as Russian sage (Perovskia).


Hydrangeas

Mophead hydrangea 'Sweet Fantasy'
Mophead hydrangea ‘Sweet Fantasy’

With hydrangeas, it’s the pastel colouring and shape of the flowerheads that deters many – Madonna was once overhead to say “I absolutely loathe hydrangeas” after being handed a bunch by an adoring fan. In our 2017 poll, hydrangeas came 15th on the list of gardeners’ most hated plants.

If you want to get away from the balled flowers of mophead types, consider one of the lovely lacecap hydrangeas, such as ‘Mont Aso’, ‘Veitchii’ or Hydrangea aspera.


Hardy geraniums

Geranium 'Johnson's Blue'
Geranium ‘Johnson’s Blue’

In our 2017 poll, hardy geraniums appeared 16th on the list of most hated plants. For some gardeners, it’s the slightly spicy scent of hardy geranium foliage that’s off-putting.

If you can get past this or aren’t bothered by it, there are so many different types to grow.

How to grow hardy geraniums

10 hardy geraniums to grow

11 hardy geraniums for shade


Euphorbias

Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii
Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii

Euphorbias have long divided gardeners. Their acid-green flowers and sometimes thuggish behaviour can be irritating to some.

However, few other plants can provide that injection of vivid green and yellow to a border scheme.

How to grow euphorbias


Periwinkle

Vinca major 'Harlington Propeller'
Vinca major ‘Harlington Propeller’

For many gardeners, periwinkles (Vinca) are great ground cover plants with pretty purple flowers. However, as some will have discovered, they can be a little too good at spreading and prove difficult to get rid of. This tendency earned them 8th place in our 2009 poll of plants to avoid.

If this is the case for you, avoid Vinca major and go for Vinca minor instead, which is less thuggish and much better for ornamental use.


Ivy

Hedera helix
Ivy foliage

In our 2009 poll of garden villains, ivy came in 2nd place, and in 2017 it took the top spot. Many respondents cited its ‘funereal’ appearance and evergreen leaves that harbour snails.

Don’t rush to get rid of it though if you have ivy growing in your garden – this native climber is easily one of the best plants to grow for wildlife, providing nesting sites and berries for birds, and nectar-rich flowers for bees.

Seven of the best climbers for wildlife


Begonias

Begonia luxurians foliage
Begonia luxurians foliage

It’s certainly true that there are some begonias that are hard to love – just look at ‘Espresso Sugardip Pink’ or ‘Giant Picotee Mixed’.

However, there are many others that are well worth seeking out – Begonia maculata has lovely spotted foliage and can be grown indoors as a houseplant, while Begonia luxurians has dramatic, palmate foliage.


Bamboo

Phyllostachys aureosulcata f. aureocaulis
Phyllostachys aureosulcata f. aureocaulis

Some bamboos, notably the Phyllostachys and Sasa species, can be particularly difficult to control and have a tendency to run, which can make them tricky to get rid of.

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If you want to grow bamboos, running bamboos in particular are best grown in a large, strong container, not planted in the ground. If you do want to plant bamboos directly in the ground, clump-forming species are best – consider Fargesia, Borinda and Thamnocalamus.