Ground cover for Wilmington sandy soil

laurabs(7b)June 3, 2007

I am helping my MIL out with her garden in Wilmington, NC. When I was planting in a mostly-sun bed in her back yard, she was trying to get me to put plants in the edge of the bed to hide some ugliness I couldn't see. I wasn't about to put the nice plants there, so I'm wondering what I should put there. It's an ugly little spot along the chain-link fence, but I guess she wants to brighten it up or something. Would one of these Lamiastrums be too vigorous? The soil is mostly sand, and the sun would beat down part of the day. I also like the Beedham's white lamium, and the color wouldn't be bad, but possibly too attention-getting. Or what about a dwarf mondo grass? She and I need low-maintenance, but something inexpensive to cover the odd area and hold the soil and pine needle mulch.

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pfmastin(8 N. Carolina)

In my experience, the lamiums and lamiastrums don't do well in full sun in my Greenville NC sandy soil. They seem to want to be more pampered.

I think Mondo grass or Liriope muscari would work as long as it doesn't get more than a couple of hours of full sun. Blue Fescue might be a good choice.

Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2007 at 11:22PM
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dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)

What about ice plant (delosperma). I've seen it used on seaside dunes out in California. The spreading effect(although not wildly/uncontrollably spreading) does hold the mulch in place here in my yard. You can mix the more common fuschia colored blossoms with the smaller yellow-blooming varieties. Just a thought..

    Bookmark   June 4, 2007 at 9:33AM
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Indian blanket LOVES the sandy soil at the beach. I don't know if pink showy primrose tolerates salt, but it is very vigorous in poor sandy soil.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2007 at 10:11AM
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Thanks for the ideas.

I think it's too shady for ice plant; the flowers only open in the sun. I am considering Indian blanket for that bed, just not in that spot because Indian blanket will really pull your eye there. I want something more monochromatic there.

Oh, I just had an idea. I know there are some ferns that can tolerate sort of dry, part-sun conditions, but I also need it not to spread rampantly. Preferred height would be in the 18-inch range.

Anybody a fern expert?

    Bookmark   June 4, 2007 at 12:30PM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

What about a prostrate rosemary? They do like some dryness, and like sand MUCH better than clay! In good, well-watered soil, they can be a bit rampant, but otherwise... And if it needs trimming, you can either cook with it or use in a bouquet. Or dry it. Flowers would be winter/spring, but the leaf and color are attractive year-round.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2007 at 2:31PM
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It sounds as though Santolina might be the answer. Never needs watering once established. Evergreen. None invasive. Sends up blooms throughout the summer. Also another seldom used gem is Georgia savory (Clinopodium georgianum), available from Plant Delights. Evergreen, non invasive, lovely purple bloom in the fall, grows into 18" wide clumps. One of my favorites for the situation you describe. Propagates easily from cuttings. Everyone should be growing this either as a border plant or a 'filler' such as under roses.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2007 at 2:43PM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

Santolina comes in either a green or a silvery leaf color, flowers are yellow. What about coreopsis, since it is a native wildflower, and likes sandy - it has so many new colors out there, you could have a few of them.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2007 at 7:01PM
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I second trying Georgia savory. Most ferns prefer moisture -- 2 I can think of that don't is ebony spleenwort, which would probably turn an ugly color in hot sun, and bracken, which is very aggressive. Another plant to consider is Cumberland rosemary. I had some years ago and it's wonderful. How many hours of sun does this area get?

    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 8:13AM
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I think I will look for the Santolina - looks like just the ticket. I like trying new stuff.

Thanks all!

    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 6:00PM
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Don't forget about my fav - Sedums. From ground covers to knee high they love sandy or rocky soil, full sun, heat, humidity, don't need to be watered very often, spread by themselves, don't get eaten by anything ('cept some tall ones deer do nibble on and chickens will eat the little ones like jelly beans), I think they are all non-toxic, and as a bonus they all flower. Most are evergreen too so they still look good in the winter.

Nancy the nancedar

    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 6:37PM
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Don't forget about my fav - Sedums

Sssssshhhhhh! I can get those for free out of my own yard! The object is shopping. :oD

    Bookmark   June 6, 2007 at 12:04AM
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How about Cuphea hyssopifolia. It won't be evergreen for you in your zone but even small (inexpensive) plants will make a nice, low growing, shrub-like border quickly. I like these as background or "relief" from busier, more colorful parts of the garden. It's very low maintenance and tolerates drought.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2007 at 10:08AM
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Cuphea hyssopifolia

That's not a bad idea. I might use it in the front yard, though.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2007 at 2:38PM
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