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

Identification of groundcover plant in north Georgia mountains
September 16, 2011 - Was trail riding in N GA mountains - saw pretty ground cover plant ? vine - small green leaves with whitish borders almost look like clover leaves and has small bright red red berries - this was Aug 2...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for Bonsall, CA
October 17, 2012 - I live in Bonsall, CA. (San Diego) I have 3 acres, flat and sloped that are graded dirt. (DG and sheep poop from previous owner). It is getting close to mud season and I'd like to plant winter cover...
view the full question and answer

Drought tolerant ground cover for Winter Park, FL
March 09, 2009 - I'm looking to replace my lawn with a drought tolerant ground cover. I do not have a watering system.
view the full question and answer

Native groundcovers to replace non-native St. Augustine
May 24, 2007 - I live in west Travis County just south of Lake Austin. My backyard is very shady and does not drain well. I want to spend some time and effort landscaping it. I have thought about Amerishade St. A...
view the full question and answer

Plants to put between stepping stones in Virginia
June 07, 2009 - We are a public school in Northern Virginia and are looking for native plants that could be planted between heavily used stepping stones and could withstand some foot traffic (mostly in a sunny spot, ...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center