Warning: This blog may be hazardous to your health

Following up on Jeff’s post last week regarding blue spruce.  Jeff noted, and several posters agreed, that even though blue spruce will eventually have a host of pest problems, for the first 10 years or so it’s a darn good looking landscape conifer.  Jeff went on to draw the analogy that choosing a blue spruce is like choosing sexy sports car or gas guzzler over a boring, high MPG sedan.  To a certain extent the libertarian in me agrees.  If I want to plant a blue spruce in my Michigan backyard or buy a Nissan Titan to commute back and forth to work , by Gawd, that’s nobody’s business but my own.  Of course the difference in these situations is that I have EPA reporting to tell me the Titan only gets 12 MPG in the city; for the spruce, people like Jeff, me, and our highly intelligent readers know what we’re getting into from experience and training.  But what about the public at large?  Maybe what we need are government warning labels for plants.  We have them for cigarettes: “Warning: Smoking Causes Lung Cancer, Heart Disease, Emphysema, And May Complicate Pregnancy”, though the European warning, “Smoking kills” is more direct and to the point.  We also have warnings for side effects of prescription medications; “may cause nausea, vomiting, headache, hearing loss, oily discharge, an erection lasing four hours, and thoughts of suicide”.  Think I’ll take my chances with the disease, thank you.  


So what kind of labels do plants need?


Blue spruce:  Warning this plant will look great in your yard for 10 years and then fall apart when it becomes a magnet for gall adelgid and loses half its limbs to cyctospora.


Eastern white pine:   Caution: This little guy looks like a cute little Christmas right now but in 10 years it can devour your house.


Silver maple:  Warning:  Don’t blame us when this tree comes crashing though your house during windstorm.


Sweetgum:  Caution: Be sure to retain a good attorney for when your neighbors start tripping over gumballs on the sidewalk.


That’s a start. What plants do you think need warning labels?

11 thoughts on “Warning: This blog may be hazardous to your health”

  1. Hybrid Tomatoes (and other hybrid veggies): Caution, saving seeds is pointless.

    Zucchini: Danger, plant only one. You can’t make that much zucchini bread.

  2. barberry:
    warning, do not plant if you ever intend to touch them or the soil beneath them.

    silver maple:
    nothing, including grass will grow underneath this in a few years.

    only edible if you use row covers or like the taste of caterpillars.

  3. Ornamental pear : Caution – this tree has smelly flowers, messy, inedible fruit & weak, brittle branch structure. It will drop small limbs during slight breezes & large limbs during small storms. Leaves will fall long after you’ve raked all other trees’ leaves from your yard. Plant only on leeward side of yard, preferably against the fence of a neighbor of whom you are not particularly fond. Tends toward loss of canopy 5-10 years after planting. Do not expect useful shade or privacy screening.

  4. How about an expected useable landscape life disclaimer tag on plants “This specimen be expected to maintain ancceptable appearance for 7 years under normal landscape conditions.”

  5. To The Average Consumer: Be wary of any plant choice you make as any research for a educated choice is nil.

    Do you think I’m a “Jade (ed)” plant person?

  6. On any woody ornamental plant in a one gallon pot:
    This plant is Clifford, the Big Red Dog, do not plant 2 feet off a fence, driveway or sidewalk; as it is living plant material, it will grow!

  7. Southern California WARNING! This 3 Inch Ficus elastica pr benjamanii will require a substantial investment
    in an adjustable foundation. Also required to plant is prior approval from your neighbor and your neighbor’s neighbor.
    Side benefit: you and your neighbor’s can enjoy a split level tree house for parties and relaxation.

  8. I love your dry sense of humor..lol. A lot of people make these mistakes when buying trees for their garden in the spirit of ‘Going Green’.

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