En Español

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?


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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - March 02, 2011

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


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.


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



More Groundcovers Questions

Groundcover for sunny slope in Minnesota
May 24, 2016 - Hi, I'm from Apple Valley, MN. We backyard has large slope areas that get sun through out the day. We have huge weed and buck thorn problem. Can you please suggest a good ground covering plant that gr...
view the full question and answer

Possible ground covers under pine trees in Illinois
April 18, 2006 - Have pine trees in front of house. No luck with the lawn around them....was told it's because of ground acidity. Any tips on how to get a lawn to grow there? If not, can you suggest some ground cover...
view the full question and answer

Low growing groundcovers for pond banks in Brookville PA
July 30, 2010 - What are some good low growing ground cover plants for pond banks? Zone 5, mostly sun, preferably something I could start from seed? Hopefully low maintenance & non-evergreen. Perennial & hardy pre...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover Planting in Shiro TX
July 09, 2015 - I have been collecting seeds from White Avens and Texas Sedge to use as ground covers. What is the optimal time to plant these seeds? We have been experiencing heavy rains in our area lately, so I am ...
view the full question and answer

Replacing St. Augustine grass from Dallas TX
April 10, 2014 - Dear Mr. Pants, we are replacing dying St. Augustine grass in a small, sunny back yard with ground cover. What are your recommendations for a drought-tolerant evergreen ground cover? We will till a...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center