User avatar
Greener Thumb
Posts: 869
Joined: Thu Aug 23, 2012 2:13 am
Location: Columbia, MD

Jack in the Pulpit - too aggressive?

My parents have a shaded slope garden in the backyard that is lushly planted. A couple years ago I was excited to find a Jack in the Pulpit volunteer in their garden. My parents always ask me to go around the garden in search of poison ivy and I point it out to my dad who paints it with poison Ivy killer. Well my dad isn’t always very good at recognizing one three leaved plant from another and mom was devastated one day because he’d seen the 3 leaves of the JITP and seemingly killed it. Well this spring it popped up, obviously unharmed by the poison ivy killer, and has seemingly spread into a dense little cluster. We also found a clump of seedlings a few feet away and I dug them up to put in my garden.

My mom was telling her neighbor about it and the woman freaked her out about how aggressively they spread and that they’ll take over and she’ll never be able to get rid of it! This of course is coming from someone who apparently loved bishops weed and planted it all over her garden!

I enjoy JITP in the woods and obviously see it a lot, but it never looks very aggressive. The variety my mom has looks the same as what I see in the woods, it doesn’t appear to be one of the different varieties.

Anyway, obviously it’s a native plant so not technically considered “invasive” but if it is really going to be such a nuisance then maybe I will help her dig it out now before it goes totally nuts. Has anyone else noted it as being particularly aggressive?

My mom’s garden has a woodland feel with lots of ferns, hosta, oakleaf hydrangea, aucuba, tiarella, heuchera, bleeding hearts, epimedium, brunera, oh and (shhh) vinca minor :oops: … amongst many other shade lovers. The JITP seems to fit right in.

User avatar
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25279
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

I have grown Jack in the Pulpit in the past. Nice native wildflower. For me it has always spread slowly into colonies and never shown any sign of taking over. It is tolerant of a range of soil acidity, but probably prefers somewhat acid to neutral. Where I was growing it my soil was somewhat alkaline. I don't know if that slowed it down and it might have spread more rapidly in soil more to its liking. But I know other people that have grown it and I've never heard anyone complain about it being too aggressive.

Besides its a spring ephemeral. By summer it is gone, so how much could it choke anything out?

And she is worried about Jack-in-the-pulpit being aggressive when she has VINCA!? Now that is aggressive. I call it forest killer. You have to watch out, it will shade the ground too much and your Jack in the pulpits won't come up.

Return to “Gardening with Native Plant Species”