I have a large open area in my backyard that is sloped where i dont want grass because it would be dangerous to mow. A couple years ago i went to a local gardening shop and asked for recommendations on a variety of flowering plants that will spread over time and take over the area. I was looking to attract butterflys, bees, and hummingbirds.

Fast forward a baby and an injured wife later, I simply didnt have the time to devote to weeding one year and it was overtaken in short order. Half of the plants have been choked out but I found the time recently to clean it up.

I have some Bee Balms like below:

enter image description here

I am not sure though if it is spreading very much, however there is this one plant that looks incredibly similar to me that spreads like crazy and comes back with a vengeance when i pull it. My wife told me to stop pulling these because she says it is the Bee Balm trying to spread but there are a few minor differences.

Where I planted the Bee Balm it has these beautiful red flowers however this spreading plant below does not seem to flower. The leaves and stems are very very similar but I am just not sure.

enter image description here

Are these the same plant? If not what kind of virulent weed is this?

  • The leaf margins are one clue they are not the same plant. Note toothed margins on bee balm, and crenate margins on the other.
    – Phil Frost
    Aug 26, 2018 at 23:02

3 Answers 3


I can tell you that it isn't Monarda (bee balm) - if you look closely at the images you've posted, you will see tiny flowers in the leaf axils. Those rule out Monarda - but I cannot tell you what it actually is because I don't recognise it. If you did not plant anything else in that area, the likelihood is its a weed, but remember, the definition of a weed is simply a plant growing in the wrong place. If you do not have the time to weed out thoroughly, nor have ideas for what to plant instead, its probably best to leave them in situ until you do have time. Many plants considered to be weeds are attractive to insects, usually because they are native plants, or wild flowers.

Some sort of ground cover plant that you do like would be useful, if its a large area - relying on taller perennials to spread and fill such an area will take years. It depends where you are and the aspect in regard to what plants would suit the situation, but a combination of taller, insect friendly plants and something that covers the ground to keep out weeds would be best if the area is very large.

UPDATE - Having checked, you appear to be in USDA zone 6b - some information here on ground cover plants for your area https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/gardening-by-zone/zone-6/zone-6-ground-covers.htm. Those which flower will attract insects, particularly pollinating ones like bees.

  • Thank you for the information! I dont mind it honestly but if I dont manage it then it will overtake and kill the other plants. It would actually be a nice ground cover i think Aug 26, 2018 at 14:11
  • It's definitely considered a weed in Wisconsin. I have no idea what it's name is, nor do I care to know it - when I see it, I pull it and I don't compost it because my pile isn't hot enough to kill the seeds. It seeds like a pigweed - do NOT let it set seed in your yard or, as you said, it will kill everything in the area. Fortunately, it's easy to kill. One or more groundcovers, as noted by Bamboo, would be excellent choices if you can't maintain the area. I'm partial to Ceratostigma (leadwort) because of the red new growth and blue flowers. Plumbago might also work for you.
    – Jurp
    Aug 26, 2018 at 21:26

It appears to be False Nettle (Boehmeria cylindrica), as Bamboo says not Monarda; yes it comes back rapidly and weedily but it pulls easily, despite being a nettle it does not sting, and makes good compost. Check this page for a good description - here is a wiki page. Focus on the flower differences.

  • Surely not that - Boehmeria has inflorescence flowers, this plant does not
    – Bamboo
    Aug 26, 2018 at 13:12

It is called Creeping Bellflower and is considered a noxious weed in many parts of North America. It is extremely invasive and almost impossible to get rid of once established and will displace other plants. Hand pull and dig up deep rhinzomes. Every part of plant can propagate. I’ve battled it in my garden for years! It is native to Europe and Asia. Was brought to North America at the turn of the century.

  • 2
    That is definitely NOT creeping bellflower (note the small white flowers in the axils of some of the plants, as noted by Bamboo in their answer).
    – Jurp
    Jun 25, 2022 at 17:53

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