What do people mean when they say a particular plant is a “volunteer?”
A plant is called a volunteer when it grows in an area it wasn’t planted. These can either be desirable or undesirable plants. If you like the way it looks, it’s a desirable plant; if you don’t, of course it becomes undesirable. Another word for a volunteer plant is “weed.” The definition of a weed is any plant that grows where it’s not wanted. A beautiful sunflower is a weed/volunteer when it appears in a bean field. There are several ways these plants can get to your flower bed or garden. They may come from roots or seeds you planted the previous year, animals may deposit them in their feces, birds can drop the seeds, or the wind may blow them in. If you like the plant… leave it; if not…remove it!