En Español

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

Horseherb
Calyptocarpus vialis

Narrowleaf silkgrass
Pityopsis graminifolia

Texas frogfruit
Phyla nodiflora

More Groundcovers Questions

Splash-proof plants from Oakton VA
October 01, 2012 - Hi Mr Smarty Plants, Re: low, evergreen ground cover, Northern Virginia The bare soil around my freshly painted screen porch splashes up onto the white framing when it rains so I am looking for ...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen groundcover for full sun in North Carolina
April 16, 2013 - I have an area that is in full sun and I need to know the best low growing evergreen that possibly flowers to help cover where a ditch/water drainage pipe is below the planting area.
view the full question and answer

Erosion Solution for Lorton, VA
February 07, 2014 - We have a steep slope in our common area of our homeowners association. Trees that were planted have died. It is a large area around a pond. What should we plant that will hold the soil? The soil...
view the full question and answer

Native ground cover to replace grass in Florida.
February 04, 2008 - Where can I find a list of ground covers to replace my grass. I live in the south of Ocala Florida.
view the full question and answer

Ground covers for Denton, Texas
May 17, 2007 - Hi, I live in "The Colony", Texas. I want to have a garden that is evergreen and colorful and low maintenance. Also looking for ground covers as do not have time to remove weeds growing in the flow...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center