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

Tuesday - November 02, 2010

From: Fort Lauderdale, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Groundcovers
Title: Native ground cover for Fort Lauderdale, FL.
Answered by: Brigid Larson

QUESTION:

I just moved into a duplex with a narrow back yard with dark sandy soil and no irrigation system. I travel and am looking for a hardy ground cover that can take heat, drought and limited sun between 11am-2pm. I have the same problem with the front yard but full sunlight. The property has a north-south exposure.

ANSWER:

Calyptocarpus vialis (Horseherb or Straggler Daisy) is a mighty fine ground cover. It will grow in sun, partial, and full shade, and needs no mowing unless you want the exercise. [Maybe just a light shearing if it gets too straggly] It establishes itself quite readily, and is adaptable to the kind of conditions you describe.

       
Calyptocarpus vialis
                       Calyptocarpus vialis

 There are web/book references to this being a native from the Keys to Georgia so it ought to do just fine in Ft. Lauderdale.  You can see on the distribution map on the USDA Plant Database that this plant grows in Florida.  If you click on Florida on the map, you will be able to see that it grows in Broward County. 

There are, of course,  several other possible plants you might consider.  One might be Sesuvium portulacastrum (Shoreline seapurslane).  It is low and trailing and wouldn't even require any mowing, etc.    Ipomoea pes-caprae (Railroad vine) is another low, drought tolerant groundcover.   Another on their list is Lippia nodiflora.  This is a synonym of Phyla nodiflora (Texas frogfruit).

             
Sesuvium portulacastrum
               Ipomoea pes-caprae                    Phyla nodiflora

If you REALLY want to get into a search for Florida groundcovers - the The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) of the University of Florida has a great analysis and shows you several other options.   The Native Plant Society of Florida also has a recommended website for Florida native plants. In particular, they have recommended lists of native plants, including ground covers, for all the different areas of Florida.  Click here for the list for Broward County.  I encourage you to look into these websites for more information.

 

More Groundcovers Questions

Ground cover for steep slope in Washington DC
May 07, 2010 - We have a steep slope in our garden in Washington DC which has sun from noon to sun set. Could you please recommend some low maintenance plants which would be a good ground cover and limit erosion?
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for Southern California clay slope
April 02, 2012 - I have a 30 ft. high by 96 ft. long slope with clay soil slope that I want to plant a low height ground cover. Any recommendations on what ground cover possibilities to use.
view the full question and answer

Groundcovers & Shrubs for Shade in North Carolina
April 30, 2013 - Mr Smarty Pants, My neighbor planted cypress trees as a border between his yard and ours and it is sucking up every drop of water and nutrient. We also have a purple plum in the area which creates ...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for Plano, Texas
July 06, 2011 - Looking for perennial seeds, maximum height 6 inches. Basically, a ground cover. Flowering would be nice but not #1 on list. Medium to maximum sun. Don't have the best soil, but fertilizer, sprink...
view the full question and answer

Coexistence of rubus trivialis and American beautyberry
May 28, 2007 - I'm growing some rubus trivialis in a 1-gal. pot and plan to plant it this fall. Will this dewberry coexist with American beautyberry, or must it have its own space entirely? If it needs its own sp...
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