Central Florida Ground-Covers
Mimosa pudica makes a great ground-cover because you can purchase a small one gallon and within a year it will cover a good size area. Needing low amounts of water and nutrients, this plant is ideal for a homeowner. It is native to southern Mexico, Central America and South America but is widely cultivated elsewhere for its curiosity value, both as a houseplant in temperate areas, and outdoors in the tropics. The curiosity lies in its ability to folds its leaves when touched or exposed to heat. This “collapsing” is due to a hormone in the plant, however given a matter for a couple minutes it will open again fully.
Seashore Paspalum (Paspalum vaginatum) is a warm season perennial grass that spreads by rhizomes and stolons. The stolons and leaves of seashore paspalum are slightly coarser than those of common bermudagrass. However, when mowed regularly at heights of one inche or less, the grass produces a dense turf. Adalayd is a variety of Seashore Paspalum that has a blue-green color and texture similar to that of Kentucky bluegrass. One of the outstanding characteristics of seashore paspalum is its tolerance to saline soils, though salt is not necessary for its cultivation. It is reported to tolerate brackish sites much better than bermudagrass. Along the Texas coast the species is often the only grass found growing around brackish ponds and estuaries.
The perennial peanut, Arachis glabrata, evolved in tropical conditions and is adapted to subtropical and warm temperate climates. In the northern hemisphere this would include locations below 32o north latitude (Florida-Georgia state line) having a long, warm growing season. Perennial peanut has recently shown promise as an ornamental ground-cover due to its high resistance to drought, nematodes, and pathogens and its minimal watering and fertilizer needs. This translates into savings in water, energy, dollars, and reduced impacts to the environment. It is not only beneficial to the environment since it requires no supplemental nitrogen or phosphorus fertilization or pest control, but it also is aesthetically pleasing, can be walked on, and has edible, peanut flavored flowers.
Indian blanket flower (Gaillardia pulchella) is a short-lived perennial or annual noted for its brilliant, daisy-like flowers. The large centers of the flowers are rose-purple and the dense, frilly petals are yellow, orange, crimson or copper scarlet. Flowers appear in spring to late summer and are 2-3 in (5-7.6 cm) across and are held upon 18-36 in (46-91 cm) light green stems. Indian blanket grows in 14-24 in (35.6-61 cm) high mounds with a spread of about 12 in (30 cm).
Coreopsis sp. is an appropriate State Wildflower for the Sunshine State. These sunny flowers come in several varieties and make great additions to any garden design, blooming most of the summer. Coreopsis make great garden edging as well as nice cut flowers.
Tradescantia sp. blooms almost all summer (with heavy flushes in the spring) and requires next to no special care in the garden. It can be mowed to the ground and will happily return in the following season.
Want some help creating a plant list suitable for your region of Florida? Visit this link: