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?

Share

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

Wednesday - March 27, 2013

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

QUESTION:

What is a ground cover that does not need mowing or a lot of water and survives in South Florida heat and is also native to the area? I would like to turn my lawn into a more natural self-sustaining area. Thank you

ANSWER:

Mr Smarty Plants offered a discussion of ground covers for southern Florida a while ago. These plants would also be good choices for you and they appear to be more lawn-like than the native plants I found from Miami-Dade county.  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 can be divided into the different plant types.

In looking for specific recommendations for you, Mr Smarty Plants checked to see if there were plants on both the Wildflower list and these Florida lists.  Three grasses are on both the Native Plant Society recommendations and the Wildflower Center recommended list for South Florida. These are Spartina patens (Marsh-hay cord grass), Tripsacum dactyloides (Eastern gamagrass) and Uniola paniculata (Sea oats).  All of these grasses are a bit high for standard lawn use, so you may prefer a groundcover.  The Plant Real list has four groundcovers that are also on the Wildflower Centers list.  These are Batis maritima (Seaside saltwort), Zamia pumila (Coontie), Coreopsis leavenworthii (Common tickseed), and Pityopsis graminifolia (Narrowleaf silkgrass).

This is a great set of options. You will still need to review these for the effect you want also also how the ones you select look and grow together, but hopefully from this and the many choices on those lists you can find a groundcover that will work for you.

 

From the Image Gallery


Eastern gamagrass
Tripsacum dactyloides

Common tickseed
Coreopsis leavenworthii

Sea oats
Uniola paniculata

Straggler daisy
Calyptocarpus vialis

Narrowleaf silkgrass
Pityopsis graminifolia

Texas frogfruit
Phyla nodiflora

More Groundcovers Questions

Native ground cover for Fort Lauderdale, FL.
November 02, 2010 - I just moved into a duplex with a narrow back yard with dark sandy soil and no irrigation system. I travel and am looking for a hardy ground cover that can take heat, drought and limited sun between 1...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for groundcover under Magnolia in Austin
April 09, 2009 - What plants native to the Austin, Tx area will do well underneath a large magnolia tree (instead of the English ivy that is there)?
view the full question and answer

Replacement for shade grass in El Paso TX
April 05, 2013 - We currently have a Honey Mesquite tree with thinning bermuda grass underneath in our front yard. I suspect that the filtered shade is killing the bermuda. I was thinking of planting Buffalo Grass, or...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover Under Maple Tree in Ottawa That Takes Foot Traffic
April 19, 2013 - Hi, I am looking for a groundcover to put under a large maple tree that will be alright for kids to run about on and will be happy in the Ottawa climate. Your other answers to similar questions have b...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for burned acreage in Bastrop, Texas
October 31, 2011 - The fire took 2/3 of the trees on my half acre in Bastrop County. It was mostly wild. What do I plant for ground cover? Do I plant native grass seed in fall? I want to keep it native as possible. ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center