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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - March 02, 2011

From: Palm Coast, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Groundcovers
Title: Groundcover for beachside planting in Florida
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

What type of ground cover is best for beachside planting. Looking to replace lawn with salt tolerant, weed resistant, drought tolerant, little mowing, insect resistant ground cover. Any flowers are a plus. Thanks.

ANSWER:

The Florida Native Plant Society has an excellent, very useful website with recommended native species for all areas of the state.  The lists also gives information on salt and drought tolerance.   From the list, "Natives to Grow in FLAGLER County" I found the following plants that meet most of your criteria.

Helianthus debilis (Beach sunflower) has both an erect and a prostrate form.  The latter is ideal as a ground cover.  It is drought tolerant, salt spray tolerant, grows well in sand and has colorful yellow flowers.  Here is more information.

Licania michauxii (Gopher-apple) is a low, evergreen shrub that is highly drought tolerant and salt tolerant.  It grows well in the sand and tolerates both frost and intense sun.  Here are more photos and more information.

Ipomoea imperati (Beach morning glory) is a vine that grows well on the beaches of northeast Florida.  It is very drought and salt tolerant.  Here is more information.

 Phyla nodiflora (Texas frogfruit) is drought tolerant and salt tolerant and grows well in sand.  You can see it growing alongside the beach morning glory in one of the photos in the link above.

Zamia pumila (Coontie) shows high drought and salt tolerance.  Here are more photos and more information.

There are a couple of ornamental grasses that are tolerant of salt and drought that you might consider using as accent plants.

Eragrostis elliotii (Elliott's lovegrass) is salt tolerant and moderately drought tolerant. Here are more photos and more information.

Uniola paniculata (Sea oats) is highly drought and salt tolerant.  It is tall and attractive.  Here is more information.

Here are photos of some of the plants above from our Image Gallery:


Helianthus debilis


Ipomoea imperati


Ipomoea imperati


Phyla nodiflora


Phyla nodiflora


Zamia pumila ssp. pumila


Uniola paniculata

 

 

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