Purple Love Grass Groundcover?

castorpJuly 15, 2010

Have any of you used purple love grass as a groundcover?

I'm especially interested in learning how it does over the long term. I've heard that it can be short lived.

I've posted on the Florida Forum about this, but I wanted to see what you all have to say.



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Purple Lovegrass (Eragrostis spectabilis) is an ornamental weed. I grew some from seed several years ago, and am still pulling volunteers.

In my opinion, it's both too tall and too dirty to use as a groundcover. It's panicles act like tumbleweed, and are carried far and wide by the wind.

Don't get me wrong..it's an absolutely beautiful grass, especially when it is flowering, but in my zone (warm 7 - cool 8) it reseeds with wild abandon. It will germinate wherever it lands; in the lawn, in cracks in the driveway and in the crotches of trees and shrubs. I firmly believe if you placed a sheet of paper, with the word "soil" printed on it, in your garden, Purple Lovegrass would germinate there.

If you live on an island, with no neighbors, feel free to cover it with this thug. Otherwise, I would caution against it.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 10:43AM
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thanks for the information, donn. I have a rough landscape (I mow my lawn with a scythe) in a rough neighborhood full of invasive exotics, so reseeding isn't too much of an issue. In fact, more love grass would probably do this place some good.

I do need a dependable groundcover for the long term though. What I don't want is to have dead patches appearing in the near future, or even the not-so-near future. I want a tough grass that will come back thick year after year. Do you think love grass will do this?

I'm in zone 9a/b, the Central Florida Sandhills, a pretty tough area for gardening. My choices of dependable groundcovers are fairly limited.

Thanks again.


    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 1:58PM
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I shovel-pruned mine after 3 years, so I can't speak to longevity, but judging from the way it reseeds, I'd say you'll have a dense stand forever. It's favorite soil is sandy, so it should be right at home with you. It's also native throughout Florida.

It's too bad this didn't come up a few years back. I collected most of the seed from 2 dozen plants one year, and cleaned it down to perfection. I had several hundred thousand of 'em.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 3:57PM
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Thanks, Donn,
I've been experimenting this year with a couple of clumps of purple love grass, and they're already reseeding, so it looks like I'll have plenty of plants. They've done so well (while most of my other groundcovers suffer in the heat and rain), which is why I'm considering using much more of them. I still haven't decided yet. It all depends on how long they will look decent into fall and winter, how long it takes them to come back after being cut back. And how long they'll live. Since they lasted three years for you and reseeded so much, I think I should be O.K on that point.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 8:40AM
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Oh dear, I just purchased 3 plants to put into large pots to hide ugly house parts but how bad is the seeding and spreading really? Will my neighbors have a problem with me? If anyone still reads these postings, let me know before I plant them

    Bookmark   March 25, 2011 at 5:34AM
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It may not be quite as bad for zone 6 as it is for zone 7, but my guess is it will still self-sow. It does it in the worst way, as far as neighbors are concerned. It breaks off "tumbleweed" - like seed heads, which blow away wherever the wind takes them, scattering very tiny seeds wherever it goes.

The grass is also not overly attractive when it isn't in bloom, so deadheading the flower heads, while helping to control reseeding, keeps it unattractive.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2011 at 8:46AM
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Glad I read this before I germinated these seeds! Thanks.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2011 at 4:23AM
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kidhorn(7a MD)

Depends on what you need the ground cover for. If you need something to grow and spread where it's hard to get anything to grow, it will work. If you need something thick that will prevent weeds from growing, it's not very good. It's too open and airy.

As far as spreading out of control. If you live in an area that gets lots of rainfall, it won't be a big problem. It reseeds and grows easily, but so do about 100 other things. If you have kudzu, mile a minute, or any other fast growing weed, it can't compete with them.

I don't particularly like love grass. As others have said, it looks good for a month out of the year and looks ratty the other 11 months.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 2:12PM
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