Need suggestions for a Zone 8 ground cover

squidgette(8)November 23, 2012

I am looking at three ground covers and am hoping to find one that SPREADS QUICKLY and forms a LOW-GROWING MAT which will choke out weeds. My list thus far includes

1. Pratia pedunculata ( County Park or Blue Star creeper varieties)

2. Herniaria glabra (Green Carpet Rupturewort)

3. Mazus reptans (alba or purple)

I live in zone 8 on the beach and have VERY SANDY soil which is very well-drained and have two different areas where I would like to grow a ground cover.

The first is a fringe area of the yard which is shady, virtually all sand and is NOT covered by our underground sprinkler. Even something considered invasive would not be a problem here.

The second area is where I would like a ground cover to replace landscaping that is currently mulched with pine straw. It is sun/partial sun and is watered with the automatic sprinkler. The soil is sandy but has more of a soil base than the fringe area.

Any suggestions would be very much appreciated, particularly comments on the varieties I have been looking at. Also, if you know where I can purchase these plants online at this time of year I would welcome that information.Thank you

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mistascott(7A VA)

Mazus tends to prefer an area that gets a decent amount of moisture, particularly if it is in sun. The more sun you give it, the more moisture you have to give it. It does not like to bake under hot summer sun. It will choke out weeds once established.

Pratia likes part sun but like Mazus needs reliable moisture.

I think of the three, Herniaria glabra is the best choice for the beach because your soil is so sharply drained that it won't hold much water and its nutrient needs are not such that it will starve in the sand.

You may also wish to consider Sedums, Thyme, Veronica, Snow-in-summer (Cerastium tomentosum), Creeping Crosswort (Phuopsis stylosa), or Delosperma (ice plant) for full sun.

Covering dry shade is tough. Perhaps Waldsteinia (barren strawberry) or Lamium would work.

Do not take this as the final word as I am not too familiar with beach applications. But, this should at least help get you going.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2012 at 1:41AM
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None of those GC's is particularly efficient with regards to weed control and blue star creeper can often die out in my zone 8 winters (at any rate, has very erratic growth patterns).

I'd look to beach strawberry, Fragaria chiloensis, or creeping rubus or creeping bramble (Rubus calycinoides, syn. R. hayata-koidzumii). Both are quite happy in sandy soils, will transition from sun to shade and grow quite rapidly. The rubus is one of the best weed control groundcovers I know of, as well. Waldsteinia is a good suggestion too.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2012 at 4:01PM
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I have been doing a little reading about the creeping rubus/bramble/raspberry and it is starting to sound like it would be my new best friend...I have read nothing but POSITIVE COMMENTS about it.
However I haven't read anything about thorns or prickly errant grandchild may wander barefoot into that area on occasion. Does this plant have thorns?
Also, any suggestions as to where I might find this plant at a price more reasonable than $5 for a 3" pot (not including shipping). It seems almost sinful to pay that much...wish I had a neighbor with this plant who wouldn't mind giving me a spadeful. Perhaps I can find someplace online that ships it "barefoot"

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 10:34AM
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That would be "ships it bare-root", not bare-foot haha

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 10:36AM
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mistascott(7A VA)

Creeping Bramble (R. calycinoides/pentalobus) doesn't have thorns, but it is somewhat painful/rough to touch -- the stems are somewhat coarse textured. I usually wear gloves when I handle it. Not sure about walking on it.

If you go with it, the 'Emerald Carpet' selection has brilliant red leaves in fall.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 8:41PM
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mistascott(7A VA)

Also, disagree about Rupturewort (Herniaria glabra) not being a good weed suppressor -- it forms a very dense mat so it hard for much of anything to get through.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 6:00PM
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