Certain ornamental plants are not only stars in the garden, but also will re-seed prolifically, thereby providing “free plants.” For some gardeners this can be a bonus, for others it can mean pests.

Here are five of these free-seeders, all of which are plants that I like and cultivate in my own garden and all of which have value beyond their free offspring.

Euphorbia Wulfenii

Euphorbia wulfenii With its gray-green leaves, unusul chartreuse flowers that last for weeks and ability to grow in unlikely places, this Euphorbia will start to appear in other parts of your garden where its offspring can be selectively cultivated or eliminated by the vigilant gardener. These guys will thrive in full sun to partial shade and require little water.

Euphorbia wulfenii holds its chartreuse flowers for 2-3 months. After the flowers fade, cut back the old stems to make room for next years stems and flowers which will be growing from underneath.

Geranium Maderense

Geranium maderense, another of my favorite plants, has beautiful, fern-like foliage and form, grows in sun or shade, and in its second year will bloom with a huge cluster of tiny lavender flowers, then die off. But this guy will spread his children EVERYWHERE, all over the garden, up in palm trees, in cracks in the concrete. The children are easy to cull and can actually be transplanted to desirable locations, but if you get lazy, the offspring can take over an area.

Cerinthe Major

Cerinthe major is a very unusual plant. It appears only in the spring when the previous year’s seeds germinate. Suddenly you have very pretty plants with droopy little flowers that exhibit irredescent After they bloom, I pull out the parents knowing that more of them will be back next spring. Cerinthes are much less aggressive than some of these other freebies.


Borage is usually listed with herbs, although I must admit to knowing no recipes that include Borage. I have used the tiny star-shaped blue flowers as a garnish on vanilla ice cream or with lemon wedges for a “what’s this?!” wow effect at dinner parties. Borage is a warm season plant that grows very quickly, attracts bees and reseeds itself in its immediate area. I like the plant, but I’m not really sure why.