Zone 10 ground cover

Hot Weather Ground Covers: Growing Ground Cover In Zone 9 Gardens

By definition, ground covers are plants – often creeping, spreading or climbing – that top out at 3 feet (91 cm.). Perennial ground covers are often used as an alternative to grass. They are low-maintenance plants that provide excellent erosion control, even on steep slopes or other difficult sites. Many do well in shade. It may seem that selecting ground cover plants for zone 9 would be easy, but finding suitable hot weather ground covers can be tricky because many ground-hugging plants don’t tolerate intense heat. If you’re in the market for zone 9 ground covers, read on for a few suggestions.

Growing Ground Cover in Zone 9

Below you will find some zone 9 ground covers suitable for your landscape or garden.

Algerian ivy (Hedera canariensis) – This ivy plant prefers any well-drained site in deep or partial shade. Note: Algerian ivy can become invasive in certain areas.

Asiatic jasmine (Trachelospermum asiaticum) – Also known as yellow star jasmine, this ground cover prefers rich, well-drained soil in partial shade to full sun.

Beach morning glory (Ipomoea pes-caprae) –Also known as railroad vine or goat’s foot, this morning glory plant enjoys nearly any soil, including poor soil, and full sun.

Coontie (Zamia floridana) – Also known as Florida arrowroot, you can plant this ground cover in sun or shade in any well-drained site, including poor soil.

Creeping juniper (Juniperis horizontalis) – Creeping juniper is a popular addition to many landscapes as an attractive ground cover. It tolerates any well-drained soil and prefers full sun.

Liriope (Liriope muscari) – Also commonly called monkey grass or lilyturf, this attractive ground cover makes an exceptional addition to the landscape and is even used as an alternative to grass. It prefers average, well-drained soil in partial shade to full sun.

St. Andrews Cross (Hypericum hypericoides) – Plant this variety of St. John’s wort in moist or dry soil. As long as it drains well, the plant should be happy. Tolerates full shade to full sun.

Golden creeper (Ernodea littoralis) – This ground cover prefers coarse, sandy soil in areas of light shade to full sun.

Mondo grass (Ophiopogan japonicus) – Similar to liriope and also known as dwarf lilyturf or dwarf liriope, mondo grass makes an excellent round cover option for zone 9. Give it moist, loose soil in either partial shade or full sun locations.

Love grass (Eragrostis elliottii) – Ornamental grass is a popular choice for the landscape, especially those that provide ground coverage like love grass. This plant prefers areas that are well drained in light shade to full sun.

Muhly grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) – Also known as pink hairgrass or pink muhly grass, this is another ornamental grass often used for ground coverage. While it enjoys full sun locations, the plant prefers moist, well-draining soil.

Blue porterweed (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis) – Nearly any well-drained soil will accommodate this ground cover plant. It also tolerates partial shade to full sun areas, and butterflies will love the brilliant blue flowers.

Butterfly sage (Cordia globosa) – Also known as bloodberry sage, this is a good ground cover plant for areas with poor soil. It tolerates partial shade to full sun conditions. This plant is another great choice for attracting butterflies.

Perennial peanut (Arachis glabrata) – This isn’t your average peanut. Instead, perennial peanut plants provide optimal ground cover in well-draining sites with full sun.

Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans) – If you’re looking for something attractive to quickly fill in a large area, then ajuga is definitely a good choice. While its foliage is the main attraction, the plant also produces bee-enticing blooms in spring. It prefers nearly any well-drained soil in light to full shade, although it will tolerate sun.

Autumn fern (Dryopteris erythrosora) – Autumn fern plants will fill the area with beautiful bright green fronds. Since it’s a woodland plant, locate this fern in a well-draining spot with plenty of shade.

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Tuesday – May 12, 2009

From: Mattituck, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Ground cover for shaded sandy soil in Long Island, NY
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live on the north fork of Long Island (Zone 7) I would like to find a grass or low ground cover that will grow in shaded sandy soil. The yard has quite a few trees. It also has to stand up to moderate foot traffic.

ANSWER:

The best we can do is go looking in our Native Plant Database for low growing plants native to New York that will tolerate shade. In terms of foot traffic, we would suggest paths or walkways with a layer of shredded hardwood mulch under your trees. It has to be replaced from time to time, but helps keep the ground and tree roots warm (or cool), holds in moisture, and can be walked on freely. As it decomposes, it continues to improve the texture of the soil beneath it, and is attractive.

We found several low-growing, blooming perennial plants, some of them evergreen. We also thought you might be interested in some native grasses, not very tall, that will do well in a shady condition, hold their place year-round, and are easy to care for. Again, they can’t be walked on, but might serve as a border.

Blooming ground covers for Long Island

Claytonia caroliniana (Carolina springbeauty) – 4 to 12 inch stems, blooms white, pink April to June, part shade, moist soil

Maianthemum stellatum (starry false lily of the valley) – 8 to 10 inch stems, blooms white May and June, part shade or shade, dry soil

Mitchella repens (partridgeberry) – 2 inches tall, creeping evergreen, blooms white, pink, purple May to October

Phlox subulata (moss phlox) – less than 2 ft. tall, evergreen, blooms white, pink, purple March to June, high water use, sun or part shade

Viola pedata (birdfoot violet) – 4 to 10 inches tall, blooms blue, purple March to June, dry soil, part shade or shade

Grasses

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama) – 2 to 3 ft. stems, medium water use, sun or part shade

Carex texensis (Texas sedge) – 10 to 12 inches tall, medium water use, sun or part shade

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem) – 18 to 24 inches tall, water use low, sun or part shade

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Groundcover Plants

Groundcover plants, whether they’re flowering or foliage plants – or even ferns – can help choke out weeds as they blanket the earth.

Once you’ve planted the palms, the foundation shrubs, the row of hedges, and the stately tree…the addition of one of South Florida’s pretty groundcovers can put the finishing touch on even the most minimal landscaping.

In fact, using the same groundcover in separate areas of the garden is a good way to pull together the design of your landscape.

A fast-growing groundcover will fill in an area quickly or a more moderate or slow grower takes its time and won’t get away from you…especially helpful in a smaller spot.

The Plant Pages will give you the growth rate of each one so you can make the right choice for your garden areas.

Some groundcovers actually climb if they’re presented with a reason to do so – and can cover a wall or climb a tree trunk for an added bonus, a benefit you may or may not want.

The Plant Pages will advise you on each one’s habits so you can plan accordingly.

A few – especially Perennial Peanut – work as a lawn replacement, though none like being walked on. In this case, use stepping stones in areas where you’ll want to walk.

Planting under the old oak tree

If you’re adding groundcover plants under trees, don’t build up a bed of soil over the tree’s roots. It basically “buries” the tree too deeply and it may suffer for it. Plants need surface roots to breathe and burying the trunk at a deeper level can cause it to rot.

If you’re planting a new tree (or palm, etc.) you can plan ahead for the bed by raising the tree’s planting depth. Otherwise, plant right in the ground around the tree trunk.

Smaller pots like 4″ or 1 gallon size make it easier to dig holes among the existing roots in the soil and are less disturbing to the tree’s root system.

Containing groundcover plants

This can be a challenge. Their job, after all, is to cover the ground.

Some will want to wander out into the lawn, across the walk or into other areas where you don’t want them.

Keep them contained by regularly edging the bed or by hand trimming the offending shoots now and then.

Choosing the ideal one – and the right number of them to plant – keeps maintenance to a level you’re prepared to handle.

Landscape uses for groundcovers

  • under trees
  • as front-of-the-border garden plants
  • around the base of a small palm or other specimen
  • in a drift under low windows
  • along a walkway in a strip of garden
  • on the easement between sidewalk and curb
  • cascading over a planter wall
  • in pool cage planting beds
  • around foundation plants
  • replacing small lawn areas such as strips between driveways and walls or walkways
  • in containers or hanging baskets

Ferns as groundcovers?

Most people don’t think of ferns when they think of groundcovers…yet many fern varieties spread out nicely. They make perfect fillers for shady areas, and one – foxtail fern – grows in sun OR shade.

Garden ferns can be used as foundation plants, a filler for garden beds that need a soft touch, or in a naturalized area of the yard that gets more shade than most plants like.

Other plants to consider

Wide-spreading, low-growing plants like junipers also work as groundcovers, though to keep things simple we’ve included them in the Small Shrubs section.

Several perennials such as lantana and blue daze grow low and wide and can be used to fill in an area.

And annuals like petunias can blanket the ground for seasonal color (in winter).

How many plants do you need?

To figure out how many groundcover plants you need to fill in a planting area, measure the area in square feet.

LENGTH X WIDTH = SQUARE FEET

Example: a 10′ X 6′ area would be 60 square feet.

Then decide how far apart you’re going to plant the groundcovers…say 6″ apart.

Use the multipliers below to figure out how many plants you need.

In our example, 60 square feet X 4 (the multiplier for 6″ apart) = 240 plants.

FORMULA: AREA IN SQ. FT. X SPACING MULTIPLIER = NUMBER OF PLANTS NEEDED

    Multipliers:

    4″ apart – 9

    6″ apart – 4

    8″ apart – 2.28

    10″ apart – 1.44

    12″ apart – 1

    15″ apart – .64

    18″ apart – .44

    24″ apart – .24

Sticker shock? You can decrease the number of plants to buy by increasing the plant spacing.

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Groundcovers

Dwarf mondo grass

Groundcovers can add interesting contrasts in texture and color to your landscape. They’re attractive in beds or open areas and can reduce the maintenance your landscape requires.

There are groundcovers for shady areas, sunny spots, and everything inbetween. They’re great for those hard-to-maintain places in your landscape, like small spaces that the mower can’t get into or steep slopes.

Some groundcovers should be used alone, while others, like perennial peanut, can be incorporated into turf and even mowed.

Some of the most adaptable groundcovers are native Florida plants, like the beach sunflower, some ferns, and railroad vine. Other attractive groundcovers include English ivy and Asiatic jasmine.

Make sure you choose the right groundcover for your area and landscape.

UF/IFAS Sites

  • Groundcovers and Lawngrasses–UF/IFAS Solutions for Your Life
  • Groundcovers for South Florida–UF/IFAS Extension Miami-Dade

UF/IFAS Publications

  • Florida-Friendly Groundcovers for Baker County (PDF)
  • Groundcover for Open, Sunny, Natural Landscapes (PDF)
  • Groundcover Publications

Also on Gardening Solutions

  • Alternatives to Lawngrass
  • Asiatic Jasmine
  • Gopher Apple
  • Groundcovers for Shade
  • Perennial Peanut
  • Powderpuff Mimosa

Ground Cover Florida

Since the cost of maintaining a lawn has risen and time or effort needed to keep it in good shape, some homeowners are reducing size by replacing some areas with ground cover. Ground cover plants can sometimes be more practical to cover an area in a landscape than turf grass. Enviroscaping has become a new trend today since ground cover for Florida landscaping can provide a surprising amount of energy savings, during summer months of high temperatures.

Adaptability Of Ground Cover Plants

Ground cover is more adaptable to a wider range of environmental conditions. For example, turf such as ST. Augustine grass does not grow well in extreme shade. It is also difficult to establish turf in areas that are consistently wet or dry. There are several types of ground cover plants that can handle different problem situations. There is ground cover for sun, shade ground covers, drought tolerant ground cover, flowering ground cover, you can find a type to meet any location.

Selecting Landscape Ground Covers

Proper selection can help minimize the need for lawn irrigation, fertilization, and mowing after ground covers are established. Excellent choices for low maintenance shade ground covers are, “Liriope” and “Mondo grass”. For areas with wet soil, ground cover plant “Lippia” also known as “Matchweed” has outstanding tolerance for this situation.

Juniper such as “Compacta” and “Blue Pacific” are drought tolerant ground cover, great for dry areas from lack of irrigation or rainfall. Woody ground cover species will offer a variety flowering ground cover that have colors and textures that will surpass any turf. Ground cover plants can complete any landscape and will compliment trees and shrubs.

Establishment Of Ground Covering Plants

Ground covers are generally fully mature in two years. Some can require a little more or less time to become mature. During the establishment period to insure strong and quicker growth a regular program of fertilization, watering, and weed control is needed. The usage of mulch will aid in water retention for new plantings.

Mulch will also help the root system so they can spread faster, especially ground cover that root along their stems. Once established many types of ground cover plants need only minimal trimming to keep them in shape and within the selected area.

Selection and types of ground cover plants where you live will depend on your location in Florida, north, central, or south. Some plants can be used in all areas while some are suited for a specific region. Check your local garden centers and nurseries for what is available to be planted in your area.

Here is a list with names of ground cover Florida for the regions Northern, Central, and Southern Florida, (With Light Requirements).

Best Ground Cover For North Florida

Beach Morning Glory, Full Sun
Carlonia Jasmine, Full Sun, Part Shade
Chinese Juniper (Parsoni, Varigata), Full Sun
Creeping Juniper (Bar Harbor, Blue Rug ) Full Sun, Part Shade
Daylilly, Full Sun, Part Shade
Dichondra, Full Sun, Part Shade, Shade
Dwarf Yaupon Holly, Full Sun
English Ivy, Shade
Heather, Full Sun, Part Shade
Holly Fern, Shade
Japanese Holly, Full Sun, Part Shade
Liriope, Full Sun, Part Shade, Shade, ( Depending On Species )
Mondo Grass, Full Sun, Shade
Minema Jasmine, Full Sun, Part Sun, Shade
Lippia (Match Weed), Full Sun, Part Sun, Shade
Shore Juniper (Compacta, Blue Pacific) Full Sun, Part Shade
Society Garlic, Full Sun

Ground Covering Plants For Central Florida

Asparagus Fern, Full Sun, Part Shade
Asiatic Jasmine, Full Sun, Part Shade
Beach Morning Glory, Full Sun
Begonia, Full Sun, Part Shade, ( Depending On Species )
Blue Daze, Full Sun, Part Shade
Boston fern, Shade
Bromeliad, Shade, Part Shade, ( Depending On Species )
Carolina Jasmine, Full Sun, Part Shade
Chinese Juniper (Parsoni, Varigata) Full Sun
Creeping Juniper (Bar Harbor, Blue Rug) Full Sun, Part Shade
Dichondra, Full Sun, Part Shade, Shade
Daylilly, Full Sun, Part Shade
Dwarf Lantana, Full Sun
Dwarf Lilly, Shade
Dwarf Yaupon Holly, Full Sun
English Ivy, Shade
Heather, Full Sun, Part Shade
Holly Fern, Shade
Japanese Holly, Full Sun, Part Shade
Liriope, Full Sun, Part Shade, Shade, ( Depending On Species )
Lippia (Match Weed) Full Sun, Part Shade, Shade
Mondo Grass, Full Sun, Shade
Mimosa, Full Sun, Part Shade
Minema Jasmine, Full Sun, Part Shade, Shade
Periwinkle (Vinca) Full Sun
Society Garlic, Full Sun
Shore Juniper (Compacta,Blue Pacific) Full Sun, Part Shade
Trailing Lantana. Full Sun

Ground Cover Plants For Southern Florida

Asparagus Fern, Full Sun, Part Shade
Aloe Plant, Full Sun, Part Shade
Asiatic Jasmine, Full Sun, Part Shade
Begonia, Full Sun, Part Shade, ( Depending On Species )
Beach Morning Glory, Full Sun
Blue Daze, Full Sun, Part Shade
Bromeliad, Shade, Part Sun, ( Depending On Species )
Boston Fern, Shade
Carolina Jasmine, Full Sun, Part Shade
Chinese Juniper (Parsoni,Varigata) Full Sun
Creeping Juniper (Bar Harbor, Blue Rug) Full Sun, Part Shade
Daylilly, Full Sun, Part Shade
Dichondra, Full Sun, Part Shade, Shade
Dwarf Lantana, Full Sun
Dwarf Lilly, Shade
Dwarf Yaupon Holly, Full Sun
English Ivy, Shade
Heather, Full Sun, Part Shade
Heartleaf Philodrendrom, Part Shade, Shade
Holly Fern, Shade
Japanese Holly, Full Sun, Part Shade
Liriope, Full Sun, Part Shade, Shade, ( Depending On Species )
Leather Leaf Fern, Shade
Lippia (Match Weed) Full Sun, Part Shade, Shade
Mondo Grass, Full Sun, Shade
Mimosa, Full Sun, Part Shade
Minema Jasmine, Full Sun, Part Shade, Shade
Oyster Plant, Full Sun, Part Shade, Shade
Pothos, Part Shade, Shade
Periwinkle (Vinca) Full Sun
Perrennial Peanut, Full Sun
Snake Plant, Part Shade, Shade
Society Garlic, Full Sun
Spider Plant, Part Shade, Shade
Shore Juniper (Compacta, Blue Pacific) Full Sun, Part Shade
Swedish Ivy, Shade
Trailing Lantana, Full Sun
Velvet Plant, Part Shade, Shade
Wandering Jew. Shade

Areas in a landscape that are not suited for turf, using ground cover plants is is the best way to go. Many types of ground covers are available to handle just about any situation. Since ground covering plants are easier to maintain than turf, they are sometimes more practical to use in landscaping. Homeowners having problems with certain locations in their landscape can use ground cover as the solution.

Author, Kurt Kmetz

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