gardening is about nature and having a happy place, not politics and political correctness.

Sometimes I marvel at people. People who can take something, anything, and twist it and make it ugly. Even gardening.

In another garden group I belong to that one of my favorite purveyors of plants sponsors had a discussion on invasives. Invasive plants can, and are also referred to as “thug plants”. A thug plant chokes out the neighbors with aggressive growing habits. Like Garlic Mustard. Or Bishop’s Weed. Or Poke Weed. It takes over. It’s a bully plant, i.e. thug.

Well people, the political correctness police have set their sights on gardening. See the screen shots above? What the feezy? Calling an invasive plant a thug is racialized and represents injustice and oppression? I covered up their names but these women have too much freaking time on their hands. I said to one that she was talking about a common term attributed at times when discussing invasive plants. I asked if she really thinks the plant is going to have hurt feelings? I did tell her in my opinion she and the other woman are utterly ridiculous. Especially when one went on to say we should be “grateful” we were instructed about it. And that using the word thug when referring to invasive plant species means I am suddenly a racist?

Ummm….in a word…NO.

These women both are missing the salient point that it’s not their personal group, it’s someone else’s group. Therefore it is up to them and I found their comments equal parts offensive and ridiculous. If they want to have that conversation regarding potentially racial plant terminology, they can have elsewhere.
If they had posted this in my gardening group I would have removed the posts and removed them.

Oh and the reference to the Linnaean system of classification refers to the botany system developed by the 18th century Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus (Carl von Linné) who was a botanist, zoologist, taxonomist, and physician who created or formalized binomial nomenclature, AKA the modern system of naming organisms. He was also one of founders of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm.

I am not going to apologize or sugarcoat how truly absurd this whole suggestion that people are bad for using commonly acceptable plant terminology, etc. And I am not going to buy into the preposterousness of botany itself being completely sexist and racist. I mean come on. Just stop. History has all sorts of peaks and valleys.

Gardening is my happy place. I have little respect for drama queens who have nothing to do with their time other than to pollute gardening groups. Do I personally call invasive plants plant thugs? No because to me it reminds me of 19th century bullies roaming cities in the US and Europe…you know like organized gangs of robbers and worse? But I have heard the term applied to invasive plants and who in the Sam Hell really cares? And I thought gardening was one thing the political correctness police didn’t visit. I thought gardening was a safe space, a happy place….but for these sad sacks, everything has to be as dim as their world view, I suppose.

Here are some articles about thugs….of the plant variety:

The Spruce: How to Deal with Plant Thugs
Aggressive Plants to Avoid Growing

Written by Marie Iannotti
Updated 01/23/20

Dave’s Garden: Friends Don’t Let Friends Plant Thugs: Tips for avoiding aggressive plants
by Sally G. Miller May 23, 2014

Sublime Garden Design: Garden Thugs: 10 plants you may regret planting

Hartford Courant: Gardener: The invasion of the garden thugs!
MAY 22, 2011 AT 3:00 AM

It’s all about context people when it comes to language. We’re using the word thug with regard to plants, not people. So keep gardening and if you are a gardener who can’t find a happy place and wants to play political correctness police, at least get your context on correctly. Better yet, take the discussion out of a communal gardening group.

HAPPY GARDENING…and oh by the way for Earth Day 2021 I did two things: potted a palm for future life on the back patio once it’s warm enough and I also covered some containers up again because brrr chilly is happening again this evening.


  1. Carla,Wow … I cannot believe what I am reading!!!   I am as baffled and mortified as you are about “political correctness” in talking about plants!!!   No, in fact, I am disgusted by this woman or people like her. I had no idea that one can “offend” a plant.  Where do these people come from and where do they get their “funny” (or maybe not so funny) ideas from?  And, since I have battled with a very tough Bishops Weed plant for years now in my woods … I have NO qualms calling it for what it truly is, i.e. a killing THUG!!!!  And, I have no qualms killing it as effectively as I can as it kills everything in its path, including my beautiful and beloved wild Geranium and Lilly of the Valley plants.   An offensive (i.e. invasive) plant deserves to be offended!!! Be happy …  -Marianne    


    • I think you missed the point here and an opportunity to learn from the people who were trying to educate about the use of the word “thug”. Language matters. It’s not up to us (as white women) to make the call on what words are harmful to our communities and especially the BIPOC in our communities. This isn’t about politics— it’s about listening, learning from and loving our neighbors. Word meanings can and do evolve and it’s our responsibility to learn how they always have been or may have become hurtful to others. We don’t get to decide that. We need to do the work of educating ourselves so that we can do better. And part of that education should be having open ears when we hear/read comments like you posted above — comments that seek to educate us. We need to be able to have discussions like this without being defensive and dismissive. I personally would have appreciated being able to read comments of BIPOC on your fb page had commenting been welcomed. We all could have learned from that. These are the discussions we need to be having more often — the discussions that should not be silenced— because the truth is that there is much ugliness in the world. We have an hideous racist past and present and by learning, listening and loving we have the chance of a beautiful future. Will you help to work towards that? Will you open yourself to education, especially education from the BIPOC community and also from others doing the work of anti racism?


      • So you think you are entitled to tell me how I am supposed to think?

        Words have meaning in CONTEXT. The CONTEXT in this case is PLANTS.

        Invasives don’t get hurt feelings because they are called thugs and this isn’t being racist by saying so. Plants don’t feel racism, people do, but NOT in the context of PLANTS.

        I am being dismissive because in this context, plants, it’s bullsheit . I also don’t have to host bullsheit discussions.

        You want to say I am a racist and intolerant? People know I am not. I know I am not.

        You want to discuss gardening, fine. Otherwise? Buzz off.


  2. I agree with you. Gardening is gardening and politics is politics. Gardening is a good way to relax and stay out of politics.


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