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?


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

Thursday - November 10, 2011

From: Miami, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Plant Lists, Meadow Gardens, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Groundcovers for Miami, FL
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson


I live in Miami, Florida. I have a medium size Bismarck Palm in my front yard. What would be a good ground cover other than grass around this palm?


The Bismarck Palm [Bismarckia nobilis] is native to the island of Madagascar, so we haven’t much to say about this plant.  From the pictures on the web and descriptions, it does appear attractive and doesn’t seem to provide much shade or induce other issues for your groundcover.

Mr Smarty Plants offered a discussion of ground covers for southern Florida a while ago.  These plants would also be good choices for you.  Other excellent sources are the Florida Native Plant Society and Plant Real Florida.  Plant Real Florida has a list of recommended plants set out by plant community for Miami-Dade County, this includes groundcovers.  Similarly, the Florida Native Plant Society has a list of recommended plants for Dade County which explicitly notes groundcovers.

Two groundcovers are on both the Native Plant Society recommendations and the Wildflower Center recommended list for South Florida.  These are Sisyrinchium angustifolium (Narrowleaf blue-eyed grass) and Zamia pumila (Coontie).  The Native Plant Society list has five other groundcovers that are not on the Wildflower Centers list, but which the USDA lisits as native.  These include Bacopa caroliniana, Canavalia rosea, Licania michauxii, Peperomia obtusifolia, and Stachytarpheta jamaicensis.

This is a great set of options; hopefully from this you can find a groundcover that will look attractive and coexist peacefully with your Bismarckia nobilis


From the Image Gallery

Calyptocarpus vialis

Shoreline seapurslane
Sesuvium portulacastrum

Texas frogfruit
Phyla nodiflora

Narrowleaf blue-eyed grass
Sisyrinchium angustifolium

Narrowleaf blue-eyed grass
Sisyrinchium angustifolium

Narrowleaf blue-eyed grass
Sisyrinchium angustifolium

More Plant Lists Questions

Full list of grasses for Connecticut from New York City
January 28, 2012 - Sorry, this is a followup to the native Connecticut grass query I sent half an hour ago. I see that it was asking for 'recommended species' that I ended up with such a short list of grasses (3). Th...
view the full question and answer

Plantings for sides of retention pond in Willits CA
July 02, 2012 - I am looking for recommendations for ground cover for the outside of embankments which impound wastewater. This is to improve the aesthetics and deter weeds. The slopes are 1V:2H, so if we can avoid...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a bare clay slope in North Carolina
December 22, 2011 - Hi - I live near Raleigh North Carolina (border of the coastal plain and Piedmont). I have about 1/2 acre that was excavated for a geothermal heating/cooling system and now I need to stabilize it a...
view the full question and answer

Native NW Pennsylvania Plants for Soap
November 06, 2014 - Are there any plants in northwest Pennsylvania that can be used as soap?
view the full question and answer

Trees to replace live oaks in Driftwood TX
February 07, 2012 - I am looking for ideas on what trees to plant in Driftwood, TX to replace live oaks that have been lost to oak wilt.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center