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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.

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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.

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Tuesday - November 08, 2011

From: San Pedro, CA
Region: California
Topic: Plant Lists, Groundcovers
Title: Dense groundcover for full sun on the California coast.
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Can you recommend a very dense ground cover that serves as a lawn (in full sun on the coast, pref. drought resistant)? Many thanks in advance.

ANSWER:

Las Pilitas Nursery (located in Escondido and Santa Margarita, California) has a page of recommendations for "One to two foot California native plants that can be used as a groundcovers."  Here are some from that list, as well as from other sources, that are native to Los Angeles County or adjacent areas:

Baccharis pilularis (Coyotebrush) normally grows 4 to 8 feet high; however, Las Pilitas has a dwarf cultivar,  Baccharis pilularis var. pilularis 'Pigeon Point', that grows only 1 foot high.

Another dwarf coyotebrush cultivar, 'Twin Peaks No. 2', is described by the Theodore Payne Foundation.

Epilobium canum ssp. canum (Hummingbird trumpet) listed in Las Pilitas by its synonym, Zauschneria californica ssp. mexicana.  It can be mowed to keep it at 6 inches high and it will have red flowers to attract hummingbirds in summer.

Carex texensis (Texas sedge) grows in Los Angeles County.  

Artemisia californica (Coastal sagebrush).  Las Pilitas has a cultivar, 'Canyon Grey' that stays about 1 foot high.

Calystegia macrostegia (Island false bindweed) is a vine that makes a fine groundcover, according to Theodore Payne Foundation.

Fragaria chiloensis (Beach strawberry) has the advantage of producing delicious fruit.  The cultivar 'Aulon' is described by Theodore Payne Foundation.

Eriogonum fasciculatum (Eastern mojave buckwheat).  Theodore Payne Foundation describes a lower-growing cultivar, 'Bruce Dickinson'.

 

From the Image Gallery


Coyotebrush
Baccharis pilularis

Hummingbird trumpet
Epilobium canum ssp. canum

Texas sedge
Carex texensis

Coastal sagebrush
Artemisia californica

Island false bindweed
Calystegia macrostegia

Beach strawberry
Fragaria chiloensis

Eastern mojave buckwheat
Eriogonum fasciculatum var. polifolium

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