Groundcover recommendations

jimmyd(z8b FL/Sunset28)September 12, 2002

I continue to search for groundcovers that will survive in our heat and sand and would really like to hear what has worked for others. I am in the Panhandle of Florida.

I am primarily interested in fine leaved groundcovers.

I have tried:

Sandwort, does not do well.

Lantana, does well, but BORING.

Creeping fig, does well, the only one I'm happy with.

Vinca minor, does not do very well.

Asiatic jasmine, does so-so.

Baltic ivy, only does well on northern slopes or fenclines.

Purple wintercreeper--just planted, don't know yet.

Are there any good ones I'm missing?

Thanks in advance!

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randit(z8 southern NM)


Have you tried "Beach Daisy"? aka Wedelia. This has done almost 'too well' for me. It makes a very dense carpet in full sun. Wants to climb a bit in partial shade. Very fast spreader. May become invasive???

I use the dwarf forms of "Mexican Petunia", aka Ruellia, for smaller groundcover areas. It is VERY easy to propagate, and comes in three colors: blue/mauve, pink, & white. It will do reasonably well in part shade, but with less flowers. It hates arid locations, preferring moist organic areas for best performance.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2002 at 8:46PM
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miSago(z9 Fl Island)

dune sunflower...the "pancake" variety grass

    Bookmark   September 16, 2002 at 5:48PM
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jimmyd(z8b FL/Sunset28)

Thank you both. I haven't heard of Ruellia, I will investigate!

I had heard of dune sunflower but sort of forgot aobut about it. Will try it, thank you.

Muhly Grass!!??!! overdone! Would've been great 5 years ago. see my comments on Lantana above. :)

Please, please keep them coming!

    Bookmark   September 16, 2002 at 7:41PM
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joycrick(zone9 FLA)

Greek oregano does great here in New Smyrna. And you can use it for cooking. Ruellia does great here, too. Wedelia is invasive here.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2002 at 9:36AM
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I use Wandering Jew in places that nothing will grow. #1-it will take drought or wet and #2-I know it becomes invasive quickly, but it barely roots itself so it's easy to control.

I usually put some type of border just in front of the Wandering Jew and it makes it real easy to cut or break the pieces that grow over the border.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2002 at 10:10AM
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miSago(z9 Fl Island)

creeping rosemary

    Bookmark   October 8, 2002 at 2:05AM
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I like "creeping jenny" (lysimachia nummularia) small chartreuse leaves. I have it in shady spots. It is very low to the ground. I also like mazus reptans - tiny lavendar flowers in early spring that are just adorable. I saw it growing on a hiking trail at Pettigrew State Park in NC. Bought a pot chock full from nusery in Cary, NC. It is a native here. Also very low to ground. My first planting was weakened and eventually died from salt water flooding. Am trying it again in several different spots that have never flooded. Both of these spread slowly for me and can be pulled up and tucked in around perennials. Have you tried ground cover sedums? These love sun and dry sand. I have several that amble around wherever I tuck them. I got a vitex rotundifolia from Woodlanders in Aiken, SC (mailorder - great nusery). It is a shrub that grows about 15" high. Artemesia is invasive in my yard - if you want somethings that will grow without any trouble in an out of the way spot. It grows fast and covers pretty well. It was a passalong plant, so I am not sure which artemesia it is. I live on a sound with brackish (up to 8 ppt salinity) water about 15 miles from the ocean, so my salt winds are modified somewhat. Am trying goldenstar (Chrysogonum virginianum) but have only had it one growing season. A friend's is doing well, but her garden is a bit less exposed.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2002 at 11:30PM
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jmp8b(z8b9a N Cen FL)

Hi,JimmyD in zone 8b FL. A good candidate for your groundcover is Mexican Sedum. It grows 4-6" tall in a round matte that continues to spread until it closes in all spaces between plants. In spring, it puts up 6" shoots that bear small yellow flowers in a profusion of blooms. It survived our freezes here (N-Central FL) with nary a care. The only thing that will definitely do it in is too much water. Even then, only the thickest center part rots, and by the time it is gone the rest of the plant is already filling it in again. Each time I broke off a branch, I stuck it in the soil, and every single cutting has grown into its own gorgeous matte. For an even faster clump, plant lots of branches in a single bunch for each new plant wanted. Very easy to grow! Good Luck! JMP8B

    Bookmark   April 19, 2003 at 9:20PM
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jimmyd(z8b FL/Sunset28)

Thanks for the recommendations. I just ordered the following. Don't ask me what their common names are.

Sedum mexicanum
Lysimachia nummularia 'Aurea'
Rosmarinus officinalis 'Furneaux Hardy'
Ruellia brittoniana 'Katie'
Tradescantia rosea 'Power Ranger'
Lindernia grandiflora
Laurentia fluviatilis
Pratia angulata
Selaginella moellendorffii
Selaginella uncinata
Setcreasea pallida

    Bookmark   April 26, 2003 at 8:52PM
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wilmington_islander(9A/Sunset 28)

How about dwarf gardenia? I use it as ground cover in some beds and there are literally hundreds of flowers buds on them right now.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2003 at 9:54AM
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jimmyd(z8b FL/Sunset28)


I haven't been able to locate "greek" oregano. Do you have a Latin name or a nursery where I can find it?


    Bookmark   April 30, 2003 at 8:13PM
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Jimmy, I use wedelia for groundcover. I also purchase wandering jews--the ones sold as houseplants--and plant them in my shadier areas I want to fill. They will die in a hard frost, but spread so quickly in the spring when I replace them, they are worth using as an "annual groundcover". They do better in shade.

Have you also considered trying ferns for groundcover? Boston fern spreads quickly here. There is also a native fern--it may be called Christmas fern--that spreads very quickly and acts as a good groundcover. Mine even chokes out the weeds. They grow wild here, so they can take most of our conditions.

How close are you to Gulf Breeze? If you can get there, visit The Garden Gate. She specializes in natives and won't sell anything she doesn't think will thrive under our local conditions.

Here is a link that might be useful: Deborah's Garden

    Bookmark   May 3, 2003 at 7:24AM
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jimmyd(z8b FL/Sunset28)

Thanks Wil Islander, coincidentally I did get some trailing gardenia last year which is blooming now (about 2 weeks ahead of the big guys) I've found, though, that it takes ALOT of water to keep it going in our sand here. It's worth running irrigation to it though, just for that "bring me back home to mama" smell that I grew up with!

Thank you too, Deb. I think I know what weedelia is and I think it looks to coarse for my taste. Does it have coarsely serrated leaves and a yellow flower? I will look it up to make sure I'm not thinking of something else. And you know what? I pass by that Garden Gate nursery a few times a month coming from Destin to Pensacola and have been too lazy to stop. I think its closed on Sundays when I do alot of the travel. I think I remember seeing it posted here that it was a good place to go, a year or so back. Thanks for your comments!

Yes I've also inherited ferns, but they're too big for me--like 18" tall. How tall are the Christmas Ferns?

Thanks again,

P.S. More short, drought-tolerant groundcover suggestions wanted!

P.P.S. Still want to know where I can find Greek Oregano.

P.P.P.S From comparing the list of stuff I ordered about 3 posts above with my Sunset perennial guide, I know that at least 4 aren't going to make it here. The USDA Zones suck because they are too broad. Go Sunset, they have about 40 zones, which can really make a difference in which perennial plants will survive. Also be aware of catalogue nurseries' zone recommendations. They may say a plant can be grown in Zone 8 or 9 or 10 , for example, but they don't always say that it will be as an annual. Harrumph!

    Bookmark   May 8, 2003 at 8:26PM
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I plucked this from a site I found on the web:

Origanum heracleoticum: LAMIACEAE, (True Greek Oregano). Fine seed strain producing sharp, biting oregano taste. Essential Italian herb. Southeast Europe.

Now you are armed with a latin name. The site describes other herbs (and gives their height and habits) that are suitable for the deep South. Click here --> HERBS, H...O

Wedelia is as you described. Do take the time to stop by The Garden Gate. It doesn't look like much from the street, but it is quite awsome. She sells herbs too.

If you are up this way on a Sunday, stop by the Gulf Breeze Flea Market. On the East side there is a lady who sells herbs. She's been going there for years and has an incredible selection.

I'm sure one of the two places above will have Greek oregano. It sounds like Christmas fern would be too tall for your needs.

Here is a link that might be useful: Deborah's Garden

    Bookmark   May 10, 2003 at 6:51AM
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It looks like you can order Greek oregano from this site: No Thyme Productions - Oregano

I don't know anything about them, but they rated okay on the site that allows folks to rate mailorder garden places.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2003 at 6:56AM
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jimmyd(z8b FL/Sunset28)

Thanks very much Deb.

Do you live on the Sound?

When I moved here 5 years ago, I rented a small, old wooden house on the Sound in Mary Esther, and I had my own private dock, and a view of the restricted and NEVER GONNA BE DEVELOPED(!) Eglin part of Okaloosa (or is it Santa Rosa?) island. $725 per month! The BEST place I have ever lived.

Your property looks very much like that. The creek is awesome.

And I am definitely going to get that Oregano!

    Bookmark   May 10, 2003 at 10:31AM
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We are a block from the Sound. Our creek empties into it. When we added the neighboring lot to our property my husband built a little foot-bridge across it. The downside is that in a hurricane our backyard becomes a lake. That's why I can tell you for certain that Mediterranian herbs do not like to be in standing water for three days...

Your (ex)rental in Mary Esther sounds divine. There's a lot to be said about living near government property that will never be developed.

Good luck with the oregano.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2003 at 7:18AM
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wilmington_islander(9A/Sunset 28)

Jimmy D, how do I find out my Sunset zone? Is it a 28 as well? I think I remember Sunset saying the Texas Gulf coast from Houston and Atlantic coast up to Charleston being in the same zone. Is this correct? I agre the USDA Zones are good only for annual low temp guides, not whether or not it can take the heat, or how long plants can take frigid temps. Thanks and let me know.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2003 at 8:56AM
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jimmyd(z8b FL/Sunset28)

Wilmington is Sunset Zone 31.

Other cities in your zone are Virginia Beach, Augusta Ga, Vidalia GA, Montgomery AL, Jackson Ms, Alexandria LA, Bryan TX and Austin TX. Out of your zone to the South(28)are Charleston SC, Savannah, Jacskonville, Tallahasse, Mobile, New Orlean, Houston, and Corpus Christi. Out of your zone to the north(32) are Raleigh, Charlotte Columbia SC and Atlanta.

USDA zones are for surviving average annual low temps.

Sunset zones are for surviving average annual low temps, plus surviving heat and humidity of Summer. Sunset takes into account Latidude, Elevation, Wind patterns, proximity to the oceans, great lakes, and mountain ranges.

I guess using there zones only works if you can find the zone ratings from plants they list. They are a publishing company in business to sell books and magazines. The book I have is a softback called "Sunset National Garden Book For the US and Canada" and is 650 pages.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2003 at 3:29PM
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wilmington_islander(9A/Sunset 28)

Thanks Jimmy D. You must have thought I was in Wilmington, NC, but I am 12 east of Savannah on Wilmington Island, about 2/3 a mile from Wassaw Sound and the Atlantic. Thanks for the info; I agree it is much more "plant accurate" but I would love to see a "schematic" map of the sunset area for the SE. Is there one in the book? If so, that might be enough to purchase one. Again, thanks

    Bookmark   May 21, 2003 at 10:59AM
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jimmyd(z8b FL/Sunset28)

Yes, sorry, I did think you were in Wilmington NC.

The book I have does have a map. I tried to find the book on amazon and Sunset to link it to you, but couldn't find it. They had books for every region of the US, but not the Southeast. My book encompasses the entire US. I got it for $10 (lists for $30) at Barnes and Noble on their sale rack. Maybe its out of print. You might want to email Sunset.

Again the exact title of my softcover book is:
"Sunset National Garden Book For the US and Canada" Sunset Books, Inc., Menlo Park California. 1997

    Bookmark   May 22, 2003 at 9:55AM
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jimmyd(z8b FL/Sunset28)

Found it fwiw

Here is a link that might be useful: A bunch of sources for the book

    Bookmark   May 23, 2003 at 9:57AM
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Twatkins(9A FL)

Depends on what height you are interested in:

0.5" - under 2'

Beach morning glory - Ipomoea imperati
Blue eyed grass - Sisyrinchium angustifolium
Daylilies - Hemerocallis hybrids (the foliage is under 1' with bloom 2'
Gopher apple - Licania michauxii
Dwarf Confederate jasmine - Trachelospermum asiaticum
St. John's wort - Hypericum reductum
Strawberries - Fragaria chiloensis
Beach Sunflower - Helianthus debilis
Blue Rug - Juniperus spp
Saltgrass - Distichlis spicata
Smooth water hyssop - Bacopa monnieri

Over 2'

Red Fountain grass - Pennisteum setaceum
Purple Lovegrass - Eragrostis spectabilis
Sea oats - Uniola paniculata
Smooth cord grass - Spartina alterniflora
Wiregrass - Aristid beyrichiana
Blueberry evergreen - Caccinium darrowii
Coontie - Zamia pumila

Hope this helps

Here is a link that might be useful: Florida Yards & Neighborhoods

    Bookmark   May 25, 2003 at 4:10PM
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Twatkins, where can I find Gopher apple plants?

    Bookmark   April 8, 2004 at 10:52AM
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effierose(N.E. FL.)

Either Home Depot or Lowes here in Jacksonville had the Greek Oregano recently. Sorry I can't remember which one, but I've been in both a couple of times in the last few days. Good luck finding it.

Sorry I don't have any suggestions to make. I'm always looking for easy care plants for my sandbox yard also. Other people have already mentioned the ones I know.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2004 at 6:00PM
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