Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

Plants for narrow strip between sidewalk and fence
May 01, 2008 - I have a strip of land about 5 inches wide and 30 feet long -- between the fence and the sidewalk -- that I would like to plant something that would look nice and wouldn't require the weedeater every...
view the full question and answer

Pet Friendly Groundcovers for CA
January 23, 2016 - I am looking for pet friendly, groundcover plants in San Jose, CA.
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for shade under oaks in San Antonio
May 04, 2013 - I have been modifying my landscape to reduce grass and the need for frequent watering. Have turned half the backyard into native plants garden with hardscape and sitting areas. Have 2 mature Monterey ...
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

Groundcover and Butterfly attractants for LaRue Texas
May 02, 2012 - LaRue, TX - Would like a native low growing plant as a groundcover. I would like it for six+ hours of sun, drought tolerant, and ones that butterflies might enjoy, while deer won't. Some winter int...
view the full question and answer

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