Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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 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

More Groundcovers Questions

Groundcovers for Kingsland TX
October 11, 2012 - I am looking for a list of native ground covers and grasses(not lawn grass).
view the full question and answer

Erosion controlling Groundcover for Phenix AL
March 30, 2014 - Hi I am trying to find a grass or ground cover to control erosion on firing range berms which are 1:1 grade on a firing range outside of Phenix City AL. Sandy clay soil, direct sunlight almost all day...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen ground cover for San Antonio
August 03, 2011 - Is there a short, evergreen, drought tolerant ground cover which will tolerate light traffic that can be used instead of grass? San Antonio, Texas
view the full question and answer

Evergreen plant to cover parents' graves in Louisiana
June 30, 2013 - We want to plant ground cover on our parents graves in Plain Dealing Cemetery in north Bossier Parish LA. Soil is red clay/dirt. Want native plant, slow growing, short not tall plant, that might sta...
view the full question and answer

Removal of bramble under live oaks and replacing with groundcover
September 26, 2007 - We have several large live oaks on the front of our 12 acre property in Hockley, Texas. Under and around each oak is an extensive amount of bramble which we would like to remove so that we can enjoy ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.