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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


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


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.


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)


Gaillardia pulchella (firewheel)

Lupinus perennis (sundial lupine)

Rudbeckia hirta (blackeyed Susan)

Salvia coccinea (blood sage)

Amsonia ciliata (fringed bluestar)


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





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