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

Groundcover for Austin yard
March 08, 2012 - My main goal is to cover my yard with a "grass" or groundcover that can handle the Texas heat, predicted long drought and some dog paw traffic (without going dormant/brown in the winter). I don't n...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for East Texas
November 07, 2010 - I live in the country of east Texas and wish to grow native ground covers around my house and property. I have no way to control this growth, as I have no fences or borders. I have sandy soil and th...
view the full question and answer

Planting creeping phlox for a groundcover
June 13, 2014 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I live in Southwestern PA (zip code 15065). I have a small slope on my property that is hard for me to mow. I would like to cover it with creeping phlox, which I saw on t...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for a clay/shale bank in PA
April 06, 2010 - We have a 200ft x 30ft bank in front of our house (PA) the soil is made up with clay and shale. what ground cover will grow fast
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for under a maple tree in DE
December 22, 2010 - In my front yard in Newark, Delaware, I have a HUGE maple tree that shades the whole yard and most of its roots are visible and make the yard very "bumpy." Consequently, grass does not grow well the...
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