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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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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

QUESTION:

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?

ANSWER:

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

 

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Narrowleaf blue-eyed grass
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Narrowleaf blue-eyed grass
Sisyrinchium angustifolium

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