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
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - April 19, 2009

From: Panama City, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Groundcovers
Title: Groundcover or grass for Panama City, Florida
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty Plants I live in Panama City Florida and am having great difficulty growing a lawn. I would prefer no lawn as grass, it seems a pointless use of resources but my husband requires green. I refuse to put more zoysia, augustine, centipede down as our soil is surrounded with overhead oak trees, composed mostly of quartz and is continually registering 7 to 8 on the Ph scale (we live very near the gulf of Mexico). I use organic humus and peat moss for the majority of my amendments but for the most part - I pick native plants. Please help in suggesting some type of grassy ground covering that will not only survive but indeed add to this harsh environment.

ANSWER:

First of all, Mr. Smarty Plants commends you for getting rid of the water-hungry non-native grasses!  Here are a couple of native grasses that don't grow too high and would be attractive groundcovers.  Also, there are a couple of shrubs and small herbaceous plants that are good groundcovers.  Perhaps you could combine the grasses with the low shrubs and herbaceous plants and create a very interesting yard.

GRASS:

Eragrostis elliottii (Elliot's love grass) grows in clumps 6 to 18 inches tall and is relatively drought tolerant.

Eragrostis spectabilis (purple lovegrass) grows 8 to 18 inches high and is reasonably tolerant of drought and flooding. Here is more information and photos.

SMALL SHRUBS:

Licania michauxii (gopher apple) is a low-growing (about 1 foot) shrub that is tolerant of poor soils, drought and salt.  Here is more information and more photos.

Mitchella repens (partridgeberry) is also a low-growing shrub (less than 1 foot) and makes a great groundcover. However, it does like acid soils (pH<6.8) so it would take considerable supplement to grow in your soil.  Here are more photos.

HERBACEOUS PLANTS:

Phyla nodiflora (turkey tangle fogfruit) is 3-6 inches tall and, although not grasslike, it is evergreen, tolerates drought and flooding, and will grow in limestone and caliche soils with high pH.

Sesuvium portulacastrum (shoreline seapurslane) is not a grass but it will grow in alkaline and acid soils and is drought tolerant.  Here are more photos and more information.


Eragrostis spectabilis

Mitchella repens

Phyla nodiflora

Sesuvium portulacastrum

 

 

 

 

More Groundcovers Questions

Alternative to grass as groundcover in area used by dog
January 05, 2007 - I am looking for a beautiful groundcover to use instead of grass which need to be soft and animal friendly. My dog is in the yard a lot and she's 10 yrs old. I am looking for a groundcover which wi...
view the full question and answer

Native, full-sun, 4-in. evergreen grasses for Leander TX
November 07, 2011 - Help! I need a native Texas evergreen sedge/grass/ground cover for full-sun/hot/dry area between sidewalk and street. The plants will need to be kept about 4" high, if growth is higher it must be mow...
view the full question and answer

Native ground cover for Houston
March 02, 2009 - I'm interested in finding native ground cover, either perennials or grasses, that would help control erosion on a steep slope along Soldiers Creek. Currently there is Jasmine, ivy, prairie spiderwort...
view the full question and answer

Strong groundcover for Southern California
March 28, 2012 - Need a strong ground cover. Hard time getting anything to grow. Full sun. Prefer some color. Low upkeep. The soil probably isn't great. It is a small hill within a planter.
view the full question and answer

Source for Dichondra from Hillsboro TX
November 26, 2012 - Where can I get dichondra and info about it?
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