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Wednesday - September 17, 2014

From: Jacksonville, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Poisonous Plants, Groundcovers, Ferns
Title: Groundcover for shade in Duval County, Florida
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

What low growing ground cover would be good for a lake edge area. This area is shaded with overlying woodland type trees. I planted some autumn ferns but they have getting overrun with poison ivy. I am looking for something that is natural (Duval County) that could out compete that and stay relatively low to the ground.

ANSWER:

You may be more than just a little optimistic in thinking that there is a plant that is going to out-compete Toxicodendron radicans (Eastern poison ivy).  You should probably deal with it to get it under control.  Here are links to two previous question with answers about controlling poison ivy—one from Texas and a follow-up question from North Carolina.

I think ferns are your best bet for a groundcover under the shade of your trees.  Here are a few possibilities that grow in Duval County:

Pteridium aquilinum (Western bracken fern) is considered very aggressive and might help in struggle against poison ivy.  See  information from the Florida Native Plant Society.

Woodwardia virginica (Virginia chainfern) is also labeled as aggressive.  See information from the Florida Native Plant Society.

Nephrolepis exaltata (Boston swordfern) is evergreen and spreads by rhizomes.  See information from the Florida Native Plant Society.

Athyrium filix-femina (Common ladyfern)  See information from the Florida Native Plant Society

Dryopteris ludoviciana (Southern woodfern)  See information from the Florida Native Plant Society

Thelypteris kunthii (Wood fern)  See information from the Florida Native Plant Society

You can find more suggestions for ferns and for other plants by using the Florida Native Plant Society's "Native Plants for Your Area" page and choosing "Duval" from the county list and then using the Refine Your Criteria option for choosing the Light Range, Water Needs and Soil types.

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Western bracken fern
Pteridium aquilinum

Virginia chainfern
Woodwardia virginica

Boston swordfern
Nephrolepis exaltata

Common lady fern
Athyrium filix-femina

Southern woodfern
Dryopteris ludoviciana

Wood fern
Thelypteris kunthii

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