En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
2 ratings

Monday - March 09, 2009

From: Winter Park, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Groundcovers
Title: Drought tolerant ground cover for Winter Park, FL
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I'm looking to replace my lawn with a drought tolerant ground cover. I do not have a watering system.

ANSWER:

The best drought tolerant ground cover we know of would be native grasses. Because they are native to the area in which they are being grown, they require less water, fertilizer and maintenance. The only problem with that is they are not low nor turf grasses, and are not mowed. If you have a homeowner's association with "weed rules" you are probably not going to be able to utilize the native grasses. Read our How-To Article on Native Lawns. Unfortunately, the Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss) featured in that article is not native to Florida, and probably would not do well thre. You might be interested in creating a meadow look, with some blooming herbaceous plants. See our How-To Article on Meadow Gardening to get a feel for what is involved. 

We will go to our Native Plant Database and first look for grasses and then for herbaceous plants that will add to the meadow feel. Then, in case you are not allowed to grow the taller grasses, we will try to find some attractive low-growing plants that could serve as ground cover. All of these plants will be native to Florida. You did not say how much sun exposure your present lawn has, so we will specify only "dry soil." You can repeat this process, making your own searches by using "Combination Search" in the database. If you have difficulty locating the plants or seeds you select, go to our Native Plant Suppliers section, type your town and state in the "Enter Search Location" box and you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed companies and landscape and environment consultants in your general area.

GRASSES

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Bothriochloa laguroides ssp. torreyana (silver beardgrass)

Carex blanda (eastern woodland sedge)

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

HERBACEOUS BLOOMING PLANTS

Gaillardia pulchella (firewheel)

Lupinus perennis (sundial lupine)

Rudbeckia hirta (blackeyed Susan)

Salvia coccinea (blood sage)

Amsonia ciliata (fringed bluestar)

GROUNDCOVERS

Phyla nodiflora (turkey tangle fogfruit)

Dichondra carolinensis (Carolina ponysfoot)

Hydrocotyle bonariensis (largeleaf pennywort)

Obolaria virginica (Virginia pennywort)

Calyptocarpus vialis (straggler daisy)


Bouteloua curtipendula

Bothriochloa laguroides ssp. torreyana

Carex blanda

Chasmanthium latifolium

Schizachyrium scoparium

Sorghastrum nutans

Gaillardia pulchella

Lupinus perennis

Rudbeckia hirta

Salvia coccinea

Amsonia ciliata

Phyla nodiflora

Dichondra carolinensis

Hydrocotyle bonariensis

Obolaria virginica

Calyptocarpus vialis

 

 

 

 

More Groundcovers Questions

Eliminating straggler daisy from St. Augustine grass in Hochheim TX
May 14, 2010 - I have straggler daisy in my St. Augustine grass. What herbicides work well on straggler daisy and won't ding up the grass too bad?
view the full question and answer

Erosion Control in Bartlesville OK
May 10, 2012 - What kind of plants can we use to stop erosion and loss of bank on a creek that is mostly shaded? Is there any free advice/plants for people that are losing land due to water levels rising/dropping?
view the full question and answer

Native, low maintenance lawn for Rowley MA
September 11, 2013 - I am in Northeastern (coastal) Massachusetts and I am looking to replace my (currently high maintenance, water intensive, invasive species) lawn with a native, low maintenance species (or mix). Many o...
view the full question and answer

Perennial ground cover for hillside in Holmdel NJ
April 25, 2014 - I live in NJ. I would like to use a perennial ground cover for my landscaping bed on a hill with full sun and deer resistant. It's a good size landscaping bed that is facing east (southeast). What...
view the full question and answer

Silver ponyfoot becoming invasive in College Station TX
May 08, 2013 - How can I control or get rid of an established Dichondra groundcover? I bought a few plants of D. argentea from your sale a few years ago, and in that time they've done really well in the area I plan...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center