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

Ground cover for Brooklyn, NY
January 25, 2013 - Hi Mr Smarty Plants, I'm looking for a fast growing ground cover for my Brooklyn, NY back yard. The area is nestled between 3 buildings and a fairly large tree, so most of the day its shady, but ...
view the full question and answer

Destruction of Straggler Daisy in Austin
December 18, 2011 - I hate Straggler Daisy. Not to be offensive, but it appears from other posts on this site that you, Mr. Smarty Plants, and many others would like to treat it as a protected species. It is taking over ...
view the full question and answer

Narrow strip of groundcover from Sonora TX
April 29, 2013 - I have an area that is right under my patio about 12 feet by 1 ft. I'm looking for something to plant in there. It has afternoon sun, morning shade. I live in SW Texas so it is hot. but would like so...
view the full question and answer

Short or mowable plant for walkway
June 03, 2008 - I'd like a short and/or mowable plant to use as a walkway in and around a vegetable garden in upstate NY. I was planning on clover, but I want to use a native plant if possible. The native clovers ...
view the full question and answer

How to combat weeds growing in mulch
September 12, 2008 - Trying to decide on either ground cover plants, or some type of gravel. We have a new house where the builder has planted small shrubs in the full sun flower bed next to house. The bed has mulch at th...
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