5 Once-Trendy Garden Plants That Are Falling Out of Favor

New gardeners are giving a hard pass to these finicky flora

Rugosa rose bush branch with large pink layered flower

The Spruce / Autumn Wood

The popularity of home trends like kitchen islands, mudrooms and shiplap is like the tide: It ebbs and flows. Outside of the home, the story remains the same. Sometimes what was once the growing trend in flower beds across the nation wilts in the collective mind of gardeners both serious and just curious.

Plant experts have seen it time and again. What is hot today (monsteras, anyone?) could just easily be forgotten tomorrow. Sonya Harris is the founder and CEO of New Jersey’s The Bullock Garden Project Inc. and a Master Gardener. And she has noticed a definite plant pattern.  “There are so many plants that cycle in and out for various reasons.  I know so many people became houseplant & garden enthusiasts last year who are now not as keen, due to upkeep.”

  • 01 of 05

    Needy Rose Bushes

    Rose bush

    The Spruce/David Beaulieu

    The bloom may be coming off this traditional favorite, Harris says. With 150 species and a multitude of hybrids, this flower has inspired poetry and song. After a little time tending them, however, some gardeners are singing a different tune.”

    “Due to the intensive maintenance many rose bushes require, they are losing popularity with new gardeners,” Harris says. “I’ve always felt rose growers are a different kind of people who are very devoted to their roses. The propensity to disease and need for constant attention are not a desirable draw to those who wish to maximize their gardening time and efforts.”

  • 02 of 05

    High-Maintenance Hedges

    Boxwood plant

    The Spruce/Cara Cormack

    Take a look around neighborhoods around your area and you will almost certainly see some boxwood lining the front of homes and anchoring gardens. But Daniel Cleveland and Alvin Laws, members of the outside team at Atlanta’s Boxwoods Garden & Gifts, say the ‘finicky nature’ of the plant might be its undoing. And judging by the name of their business, they know a thing or two about this one, and they shared their insight. 

    “Despite their popularity as a classic evergreen, boxwood plants can be expensive and susceptible to disease (specifically Boxwood blight, a fungus that causes rapid defoliation). Blight is highly transmissible, since it's spread through spores, and even basic irrigation and pruning can easily spread blight to surrounding shrubs. Once a plant is infected, it will likely cause defoliation of the entire shrub in as little as 10 days. Treatment required for blight is tedious, which makes boxwood less desirable than other plants that require less maintenance. American and English boxwood are most susceptible to this disease.”

  • 03 of 05

    Fern Folly

    Ferns

    The Spruce/Kara Riley

    You might be sensing a theme here about plants losing the popularity contest: Too much trouble. That trouble comes in several forms, including the kind that takes over not only your free time but your space. Enter the fern.

    “Are they beautiful? Yes. Are they horribly invasive? YES!” says Harris. “So many landscapers recommended ferns as a great shade garden perennial but failed to mention how the spores from this plant rapidly spread and create rapid-growing rhizomes which WILL take over your outdoor space if allowed.  They can also be very difficult to kill/dig up, making gardening feel like a horrible chore.”

  • 04 of 05

    Don’t Let Jenny In

    Creeping Jenny

    The Spruce / Candace Madonna

    The name itself might give growers pause. Creeping Jenny is a popular plant for ground cover, with a pretty, small yellow flower that blooms for just a bit. Many have been lured in by the low-growing plant, but buyer beware, warns Harris.

    Everyone tells me to not plant this, no matter how beautiful it is,” she says. “The reasoning is that it is a prolific grower/spreader/invasive and can destroy your soil’s chemical make-up.”

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Deceptive Daylilies

    Daylilies

    The Spruce/Evgeniya Vlasova

    As you might guess by the name, this attractive, sought-after plant usually unfurls its bloom as the day begins. Some of the more than 80,000 registered types open at night. Despite the moniker, not one of them is an actual lily, and all of them are a bit of a menace. Our master gardener Harris found this out the hard way.

    “People don’t realize they are invasive,” she says. “Daylilies need constant maintenance and can be difficult to get rid of, since they spread via tubers, not bulbs, like many may think.” And how does she know this? “I planted one that had been given to me as a gift.  If I had known it became invasive, I would have planted it in a different area, not in my kitchen herb perennial garden space. Lesson learned.”

It seems budding gardens are learning a lesson as well. These traditional list-topping plants are proving to be more trouble than they are worth for many. If history is an indicator, other flora will take their place for their time in the sun—at least for a while.