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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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Wednesday - March 28, 2012

From: Fullerton, CA
Region: California
Topic: Plant Lists, Groundcovers
Title: Strong groundcover for Southern California
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Need a strong ground cover. Hard time getting anything to grow. Full sun. Prefer some color. Low upkeep. The soil probably isn't great. It is a small hill within a planter.

ANSWER:

Las Pilitas Nursery, a native plant nursery in Santa Margarita or Escondido, has a page of recommended groundcover plants that you might like to look through.

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Kinnikinnick) and you can see several varieties that are available from Las Pilitas Nursery.  For example, Arctostaphylos uva-ursi saxicola is one recommended that is low, evergreen and does well in sun or shade.

Artemisia californica (Coastal sagebrush) grows well in full sun and poor soils.  There is a variety Canyon Gray Trailing Sagebrush that grows to only 1 ft high.

Baccharis pilularis (Coyotebrush) does well in sun and dry, sandy soils.   One commercial variety, Baccharis pilularis pilularis 'Pigeon Point' (Dwarf coyotebrush), grows one foot high and twelve feet wide.

You might also check out the article, "Lawn Alternatives Using California Native Plants", featured on another website of a California native plant nursery, Yerba Buena Nursery, in Woodside—northern California.  They also have a page listing Ground Cover Plants.

Here are some from that list:

Symphyotrichum chilense [syn. Aster chilensis] (Common california aster or Chilean aster) and you can see the write-up on the Yerba Buena Nursery page.

Corethrogyne filaginifolia [syn. Lessingia filaginifolia] (Common sandaster) and you can see a photo and more information on the Yerba Buena Nursery page and more photos from UCLA.

Epilobium septentrionale [syn. Zauschneria septentrionalis] (Northern willowherb) and  here is more information and a photo from Yerba Buena Nursery and more from Las Pilitas Nursery.

You can also find a list, California—Southern Recommended, on our webpage that gives commerically available native plant species suitable for planting in your area.  You can use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option on the sidebar to narrow the list down by putting in the criteria you are seeking.

 

From the Image Gallery


Kinnikinnick
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Coastal sagebrush
Artemisia californica

Coyotebrush
Baccharis pilularis

Pacific aster
Symphyotrichum chilense var. chilense

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