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Mr. Smarty Plants - Year-round ground cover for sun/shade

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Sunday - April 24, 2011

From: New Braunfels, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Year-round ground cover for sun/shade
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

Looking for a native ground cover for shade and middle afternoon/evening sun. Would like it to cover all year. I planted aguga and it froze. I have two large beds (I used about 70 4in plants for each bed). Any suggestions? Thank you for your time and knowledge.

ANSWER:

There are quite a few possible choices that should fit your needs. I will start with a few that grow only a few inches high. Salvia lyrata (Lyreleaf sage) is rather similar to ajuga and evergreen. Calyptocarpus vialis (Straggler daisy) has tiny yellow flowers and, although rather invasive, can be controlled. Both of the above plants can survive mowing.
If your beds are rather dry, consider Sedum nanifolium (Dwarf stonecrop) and/or Lenophyllum texanum (Coastal stonecrop). These form showy flowers in spring but should remain light green throughout the year. Dichondra argentea (Silver ponyfoot) has striking silver gray leaves year round.

If you prefer your ground cover to be 1-3 ft high consider Quincula lobata (Purple groundcherry) or Ruellia nudiflora (Violet ruellia). A related wild petunia, Ruellia drummondiana (Drummond's ruellia) ,is taller than R. nudiflora. Salvia roemeriana (Cedar sage) produces showy crimson flowers in spring. Two grasses, Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats) and Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye or canada wild rye) produce attractive flowering stalks which remain erect (but dry) in winter.

It might be a good idea to test several of these to determine which thrive best in your particular situation.

Click on the highlighted plant names for more information on their cultivation. Images of the plants are shown below.

 

From the Image Gallery


Lyreleaf sage
Salvia lyrata

Straggler daisy
Calyptocarpus vialis

Dwarf stonecrop
Sedum nanifolium

Coastal stonecrop
Lenophyllum texanum

Silver ponyfoot
Dichondra argentea

Purple groundcherry
Quincula lobata

Violet ruellia
Ruellia nudiflora

Drummond's ruellia
Ruellia drummondiana

Cedar sage
Salvia roemeriana

Inland sea oats
Chasmanthium latifolium

Canada wild rye
Elymus canadensis

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