What not to plant in an SFA

Photo by Egor Kamelev on Pexels.com

This is a suggested starting point, not an exhaustive list.  All feedback is welcome, to DE Gardeners as a whole and in particular to your local group. There may be local DIO restrictions and changes to national guidelines on illegal plants. 

Illegal plants (goes without saying!)

  • Giant hogweed
  • Japanese knotweed
  • Himalayan balsam

Common UK plants banned in EU since 2016: (www.plantlife.org.uk). In particular this is a tiny part of the list just touching on some of the plants already in common usage. You are unlikely to come across plants that are banned or illegal, DE Gardeners are really more interested in the ‘advisory’ plants.

  • American skunk-cabbage (Lysichiton americanus)
  • Carolinea Watershield (Cabomba Caroliniana)
  • Curly Waterweed (Lagarosiphon major)
  • Floating pennywort (Hydrocotyle ranunculoides)
  • Parrot’s Feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum)
  • Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes)
  • Water Primrose (Ludwigia grandiflora & ludwigia peploides),

Advisory Plants

Herbaceous aconitesPoisonous
LeylandiiGrows too fast and sucks all the goodness from the ground
Giant HogweedToxic sap
RueToxic sap
LaburnumPoisonous seeds
BambooGrows too fast and spreads too far, incredibly hard to remove


Avoid vigorous cllmbers such as Polygonum, Virginia creeper, any Clematis with ‘montana’ in the title!  Although people want to cover fences ASAP the reality of this program is that someone is going to have to battle the rabid growth of a vigorous plant in years to come so anything too vigorous will get out of hand in the future, whilst probably not covering the fence fast enough for the initial occupant.

Excessively big trees

In limited space, avoid large park trees such as sycamore, oak, lime, ash, horse chestnut, willows, wild cherry, sweet chestnut etc. The rationale is to prevent shading and leaf drop.  However, if you are lucky enough to have a huge garden (or can sneak a lovely tree into an amenity space) the world needs more of these!

Happy Gardening!