4 of Our Least Favorite Perennials in Asheville (2023)
1. Stachys byzantina (Lambs Ear.) Admittedly, Lambs ear has some appeal. It’s easy to grow, spreads fast, and takes any soil or full sun slope you throw at it. If only it looked as good in the landscape as it does in a pot at the nursery. It tends to flower and rot up if we get a lot of moisture, leaving you with a patch of rotting foliage with lackluster flowers jutting out of it. The spreading factor can also be a double-edged sword, with it popping up in areas you don’t want it to. If you need groundcover there are better options, and if you want flowers there are much better options.
2. Helenium (sneezeweed). This flower may be a case of user error because it doesn’t seem to do well for us in pots. It’s been a frustrating plant to grow, with blooms that aren’t bad but are outshone by other species like echinacea or aster.
3. Solidago (goldenrod). If you like goldenrod the best thing to do is probably to ask a neighbor with a pasture to dig some up. This stuff is everywhere. Lanky, scraggly, and all over the place in Western North Carolina. It’s easy to grow, we’ll give it that.
4. Eutrochium fistulosum (Joe Pye Weed.) This might be the most controversial native Asheville perennial on this list. It has a lot of fans and is a decent draw for pollinators like butterflies. We find it leggy and blah as a flower, and even a bit underwhelming for us in the pollinator category. We had it in a patch next to some Agastache and the Agastache won hands down for the bees. To attract butterflies we much prefer milkweed, gaura, or butterfly bushes.
So there you have it, four of our least favorite Asheville perennials for the 2023 season. With a few exceptions, we find it best to avoid plants with the word weed in their name, they tend to get that for a reason. Do you disagree or have a cultivar to recommend? Drop it in the comments or let us know in an email. We’d love to change our minds!