Suggestions for dappled shade ground cover?

cynthiainsouthflaApril 12, 2012

I have an area with several live oaks, some cabbage palms, and some cypress that I have been working on. I have chosen a pink/green/red/red-violet scheme for the area, anchored by azaleas and some ti exotica (variegated pink and light green). I have some medium plants that seem to be working for the next layer down, but am struggling with a lower plant or ground cover layer. I have creeping red chenille that's doing well, and some heuchera mixed in. I need a third smaller ground cover type plant, and can't seem to find something that wants to live there. Ideas, anyone? I'd prefer something in either a pink or violet or light/lime green color to drift with the red chenille. It has to accept dappled light.

There is the ubiquitous begonia, but I have a number of them elsewhere and would like to find something different.

Ideas, anyone?

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crueltyfre(Tampa 9a heat 10 sunset 26)

ajuga? I have growing well in Tampa, not sure in your area. It comes in all different leaf colors/size/blooms.

Lori

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 6:13PM
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juneroses Z9a Cntrl Fl

How about purple heart (tradescantia pallida purpurea)? I tend to dismiss it until I see it tastefully combined in someone's garden and then I'm reminded of its potential. Earlier this afternoon I happened upon one of those "ah hah" scenarios that made me think kindly of it again.

Here is a link that might be useful: Purple heart

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 6:30PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

You mentioned that one of your choices was light/lime green. How about Ornamental Sweet Potato Vine 'Margarita' (Ipomoea batatas 'Margarita')? It is very inexpensive, grows fast, comes back each year from frost/freeze and is very, very easy to root. No rooting hormone or babying necessary. Just take a long cutting - at least two nodes - use a stick to make a hole - slip the cutting into the hole, at least two nodes in soil - push soil up around stem - water - wait a few days. At first it will wilt, and then suddenly it will perk up as it forms roots - done!

See link below for images.

Carol in Jax

Here is a link that might be useful: Ornamental Sweet Potato Vine 'Margarita'

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 7:12PM
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KaraLynn(z9 FL, Inverness, Citrus)

There's a variegated vinca vine that I believe grows well in both sun and shade. From what I know of it it's tough and drought tolerant. I don't have any myself but have seen it used as a pretty groundcover. Variegated Greater Periwinkle Vinca major 'Variegata'

Kara

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 3:56PM
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Martina DeLuca

This little woodland viola is my absolute favorite. It looks good in winter, blooms all the time. I love it.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 5:32PM
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stuartwanda(N. Stuart)

I like that viola, very pretty! What about a peace lilly or spider plant?

    Bookmark   April 14, 2012 at 9:00AM
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carolb_w_fl(zone 9/10)

I love Purple Queen/ Purple Heart - such a dead easy plant to grow w/ pretty pinkish flowers for the bees. It does very well in the shade of my live oak, along w/ various no-name purple & lime green bromeliads - & ferns as well.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2012 at 2:24PM
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mboston_gw

If you want a low grower check out Hypotheses (SP?) or generally called Polka Dots. They come in pink/green, white/green and red/green. They do shoot out a tall flower spoke that goes to seed so you will never have to plant them again. Very pretty grown in mass of all 3 colors and are easy to transplant.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2012 at 8:40PM
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clueless1959

I'll 2nd the ornamental sweet potato. Love that stuff it does like a lot of water tho. Getting ready to repot mine an make more vines.

Also I have some swedish ivy that I'm having pretty good luck with, very good actually considering it was a free plant.

I also have some chenille that another poster mentioned mine is in pots an if it gets dry it wants to wither an die but once watered well comes right back.

I just have a very tiny yard an the ground is full of tree roots so I'm container gardening for the most part.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 7:12AM
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chellamaral

I third the sweet potato! Using purple type very successfully. And a LOT cheaper than mulch!

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 9:13AM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

I have lots of Polka Dot plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya). Love the stuff. I have it in colors ranging from light pink to very dark rosy reddish pink. It freely reseeds itself and each spring, I have dozens of new plants all over the garden. I just love it. Also, contrary to the info in many websites, it is not tender. It makes it through HARD freezes with no problem. It bounces right back as soon as the weather warms up without even dying back to the roots. Also, it will take far more direct sunlight than most websites suggest. This plant is a real winner in my book.

However, it is a verrrrry slow grower. I would hesitate to recommend it as a ground cover because it would take either lots and lots of plants ($$$) or lots and lots of time to cover even a small area. :(

Carol

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 9:59AM
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mboston_gw

Carol - I didn't find it to be a slow grower. I started with 3 trays of 18 plants - the small ones and like you mixed the colors. I found it to reseed itself and spread so that a large area was filled in by the end of the first summer. Then when it really went to seed, baby plants started growing everyone - even in the cracks between the stepping stones. I transplanted them with great success and have been very pleased with it.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 2:35PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Interesting! Was that 18 or 54 plants total? Maybe mine will pick up speed this year? I'm glad that you told me and maybe they would be a good choice for Cynthia, because I do love them. I think you have warmer conditions than me? - maybe they grow year-round where you are. Anyway, good to know that they filled in quickly for you.

I took some photos of mine this morning. These plants are about two years old. They do completely stop growing from December through February. These are some of the bigger ones. There are hundreds of babies all over the place and like you said, they do transplant without blinking an eye. These get full western exposure sun all afternoon and hold up without wilting. They are a great plant and much hardier than the plant databases let on.

Carol in Jacksonville

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 4:43PM
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cynthiainsouthfla

This is great information. Thanks to all!

Carol, I have potato vine in a container arrangement and I think I'll stick some in the ground and see how it works out. I don't know why I never thought of it.

I also have some polka dot plant in some of my containers (I thought it was called fittonia), but have only ever seen the pink variety, not the green and white kind as shown in the last picture. If I take off a flower spike from the container plants, will it seed new plants in my shade area?

Also, where do you get the different varieties?

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 3:38PM
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ritaweeda

There are some really nice coleus out there in all kinds of colors. I also saw a lime green Huchera at Lowes today.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 6:02PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

I also have some polka dot plant in some of my containers (I thought it was called fittonia), but have only ever seen the pink variety, not the green and white kind as shown in the last picture. If I take off a flower spike from the container plants, will it seed new plants in my shade area?

Also, where do you get the different varieties?

Cynthia, Painted-Net Leaf Plant (Fittonia) and Polka Dot Plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya) look similar, but are completely different plants. I don't have any experience with Fittonia. Maybe someone else can guide you as to how they perform in the yard.

Polka Dot plant is sold in small pots in Walmart, Lowes and Home Depot. Frequently they will have three different shades in a single pot. Sometimes they will have a single color in a pot, too, in case you don't want to mix, but I don't see that as often as the mixed pots. They usually run $2.50 - $4.00. All of my different colors are from new seedlings that were a result of parent plants cross-pollinating on their own.

The plant in the last picture is actually pale pink and dark green. If you look at the leaf near the bottom of the photo and the leaves closer to the ground, you can see the pinkish hue.

I think you will like Ornamental Sweet Potato Vine 'Margarita'. Stick as many starts as you can afford from your parent plant. Once they have rooted, the lime green color can be made really vibrant/chartreuse by giving them a periodic watering with Miracle-Gro. I usually use it half-strength on everything - but the ones on my front porch went from blah lime-green to POP lime-green once I hit them with the liquid fertilizer.

Have fun and good luck!
Carol

Here is a link that might be useful: Google Images - Fittonia

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 6:42PM
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cynthiainsouthfla

I love the bargain table at Lowes! Just got some nice lime green heuchera for $2 each, and some trailing geraniums and verbena for .50. They're a little beat, but a little water and food and they'll be fine.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 2:08PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Here's before and after photos of the Sweet Potato Vine after a few waterings with weak water-soluble fertilizer. Color was not retouched on either one.

Carol

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 8:40PM
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hester_2009

Foxtail ferns have that lime green color you like..
My favorite ground cover for sun and shade(more flowers in sun) is barilla repens - comes with pink, purple or orange flowers. Evergreen, drought tolerant and fast growing.Dark green leaves, however..
Hester

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 4:03PM
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