If you, like so many other Floridians, are constantly looking for landscaping hacks to improve the health of your lawn, soil, or plants, then we’ve got good news for you – we’re about to change your life talking about something so beautiful, so functional, and so gosh-darn-appealing that you won’t know what hit you.
That’s right, people, we’re talking about groundcover
If you’ve never heard of groundcover before, that’s okay. Trust us, you’re not alone, and honestly, if we didn’t have over twenty years in the landscaping business, we might not have known about groundcover either. But luckily, we’ve got all kinds of groundcover knowledge and we’re happy to answer all of your groundcover questions.
As you likely already know, growing thriving plants, trees, flowers, and a maintained landscape can be a challenge in Florida based on our heat, our humidity, our tropical climate, our random freezes during our mild winters, and of course, due to that season we all love to hate, hurricane season.
Naturally, groundcover is no different.
The solution ? (Yep, there’s always a solution with Landcrafters).Plant the groundcover that’s set up to thrive in your specific climate (and landscape type), AKA, plant the groundcover that’s Florida-friendly, whether it’s native or not, and is bound to thrive in your climate.
We won’t lie to you guys, this can be pretty complicated, there are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to thriving groundcover (and honestly any kind of plant, shrub, tree, or more in Florida). But, we’ve taken our decades of experience and culminated a list of the top groundcover options in Florida!
So, let’s get to it.
Without further hesitation, let’s get down to the details about groundcover, which would work best for your landscape, and how to care for your specific groundcover choice.
What is Groundcover Anyway?
But wait a second—what the heck is groundcover anyway.
Before we can even begin to dive into the types of groundcover that will make the most sense for you, your landscape, and your goals, we have to first answer the most important question of all—what is groundcover?
Let’s dive in.
So, whether you know it or not, you’ve seen groundcover. Like, a lot. Like, in your everyday life. You just haven’t noticed it!
Groundcover is considered any kind of plant that covers a vast amount of the ground (seems pretty obvious, right?) Groundcover plants are typically short, quick-growing perennials that don’t require all that much care or soil. Low maintenance, they’re typically referred to as an herbaceous layer (or even a regenerative layer) or a step over. Groundcover plants can hold soil in place, add nutrients to your plants and soil, and snuff out weeds without an issue.
Though groundcover is typically considered a living plant, there are non-living groundcover options like mulch, decorative stone, shade clothes, and other options, too!
These synthetic options are able to sterilize soil (if needed), keep soil from drying out too fast during incredibly hot periods, and even help to control weeds.
Groundcover is considered a low-budget, low-key alteration you can make to your landscape that can improve it dramatically.
What are the Best Options for Groundcover in Florida?
Now that you’ve got a better idea of groundcover, let’s dive into the types of groundcover that make the most sense for your specific Florida landscape. As you know, in Florida, you can’t make something grow if it doesn’t want to, so we’ve taken our years of experience in groundcover and put together a Florida-friendly list for you to review.
Check out a few of our tried-and-trues below:
This is one of the most Florida groundcovers we could possibly offer. This Florida-native is a butterfly attracting cover that’s perfect for hot and dry areas – specifically those coastal areas.
A spreading perennial plant that also reseeds (meaning it will create a larger clump over time), this groundcover blooms almost year-round with beautiful, two-inch sunflower-like flowers. The best part about them? Because they grow almost all year round, they can really brighten up those cooler, darker times of the year (we’re looking at you, Florida winter).
It’s colorful, it’s tough, and it is drought-resistant, making it one of the best groundcover options for Floridians. These sun-following flowers have broad yellow petals clumped around a brown center and are perfect for controlling soil conditions. The cool thing about this groundcover is that it easily attracts wildlife. From all types of butterflies to bird and beyond, this groundcover will ensure your landscape is buzzin’ with beautiful creatures.
These beauties can even be found growing naturally on the Gulf Coast, so we’re sure you Pinellas County folks have noticed these on the mini dunes of your favorite St. Pete Beaches.
A common groundcover, it’s more than likely (it’s actually super probable) that you’ve seen Asiatic Jasmine Minima a few times before—even if you don’t know that you’ve seen it. An evergreen, vine-like plant, Asiatic Jasmine Minima is a groundcover that’s woody, hardy, and incredibly drought-tolerant. Native to Korea and Japan, this groundcover is low maintenance, great for mass plantings, and a superb alternative to turfgrass if that’s just not the look you’re going for.
Asiatic Jasmine is a dense mat of foliage that’s often substituted for turf due to its drought-tolerant nature and low-maintenance requirements. This type of groundcover is able to survive in both full-shade with ample moisture or full sun – it’s also well-known for adapting to most any type of soil. It’s slow growing, extensive, and with a little care, can create a tangled blanket of groundcover.
Because this groundcover is known for its sturdiness, it isn’t often subject to pests or disease issues, and is often used to help maintain areas with harsher environments (think urban areas or traffic circles).
Emerald Blanket Carissa
Often called the Boxwood Beauty or the Natal Plum, the Emerald Blanket Carissa is a small, slow-growing, exquisite looking ground cover with beautiful, deep green foliage that’s sure to stun.
Manageable and aptly named for its exquisite emerald green leaves, the Emerald Blanket Carissa is a fantastic Florida groundcover option. If maintained, its growth can be kept to a minimum. It also grows at a slower pace, allowing its low spread to be tracked and tailored to your preferences! It will only grow to be a bout 1-1.5 feet tall, is salt-tolerant, and prefers full to part-sun, which is perfect for our Florida climate.
This type of groundcover is compact, mounded, and is a wonderful foundation plant. Variations of this groundcover will produce edible fruit (called a red plum).
If you ever doubted that the people who name plants know what they’re doing, just take a look at the Purple Queen.
This gorgeous groundcover couldn’t be more purple. Originally from Mexico, this perennial spiderwort blooms a deep, pulper-covered mass of foliage. The color alone makes it a fantastic addition to any landscape that needs an extra pop, but you do have to keep an eye on it as it tends to wander.
The tip of each stem of the Purple Queen has three-petalled pink flower that are both short-lived and beautiful. It’s not just a stunning option for groundcover, it’s also a super easy option for folks wanting beautiful solutions without much work. Purple Queen is salt tolerant, drought tolerant, and goes great in the sun—but more than that, it’s frost tolerant, so should we get a random Florida cold snap, you likely won’t need to take any precautions. And if damage does befall this beautiful queen of a groundcover option, it’ll regrow quickly!
Looking for tough groundcover that can quickly and easily replace your lawn with a beautiful and symmetrical flat foliage? Look no further, friends, because you’ve found it right here—meet the funny-named, but beautiful-looking groundcover you’ve been waiting for, the Perennial Peanut!
It looks great while requiring nearly no work—what could be better than that? The delicate yellow flowers that pop up from time-to-time are just icing on the proverbial groundcover cake. Technically a forage legume, this perennial peanut is a long-lived crop that can live for up to 30 years (if taken care of properly).
Dwarf Oyster Plant
Short-stemmed and tender, this plant is a small, dense, and beautiful groundcover that spreads in clumps and produces upright leaves that grow to about six-t-eight inches long. These sword-shaped leaves are green shoots with varying shades below—during the spring season, you’ll even see clusters of tiny white flowers nestled into the purplish bracts of the groundcover.
The Dwarf Oyster Plant is slow-growing and makes a beautiful groundcover, especially as an accent around other landscaping features. It prefers a mixture of sun and shade, so planting it beneath trees or in the shade of a building can improve its appearance and health.
This groundcover does well year-round as groundcover, can grow up to 1.5 feet, and does exceptionally well in part shade, part sun, or full sun. With a high drought-tolerance and plenty of flexibility when it comes to soil type, this groundcover option is a must!
Blue My Mind
More than just clever wordplay, this groundcover features stunning blue blooms and delicately textured leaves, making it a unique enhancement for any Florida landscape. With rich, green leaves and bright, royal blue flowers that bloom until the first frost (should we ever get there in a Florida winter), this groundcover is a delightfully beautiful option that doesn’t skimp on stunning characteristics.
The best part? It’s easy to care for, too. Just like any other live groundcover, it’ll need a little TLC to be successful, but ultimately, with a little love, routine maintenance, and plenty of patience, this slow-growing groundcover option will show up and show out in your Florida landscape.
They also happen to love the heat, so plant them in full sun, sit back, and watch them flourish in Florida’s climate!
Utilizing ferns in Florida as groundcovers, specifically the Foxtail fern and the Macho fern, are particularly clever ways to keep your soil healthy, your plants happy, and your landscape looking beautiful. The Foxtail fern features aesthetically please tufts that are enticingly soft. It is also tolerant of the cold, so it’s bound to survive whatever winter Florida can throw at it.
For a statement that borders on bold, another Florida fern option is the Macho fern. This particular groundcover looks as though it would feel at home in Jurassic Park thanks to its impressive growth ad sword-like appearance.
How to Care for Groundcover
It goes without saying that every groundcover, living or not, is going to require different types of care—especially when it comes to ensuring your groundcover is thriving in Florida, one of the world’s most annoying (hey, we work here, we’re allowed to say that) climates for landscaping ever.
For things like rocks and decorative stone, you’ll likely be free to leave it be for a long period of time before you need to replace or tidy up the groundcover itself. That being said, if you want your landscape to be top-notch always, you can’t just forget it’s there. Routine maintenance is key here—from replacing to tidying up to checking for safety issues, it’s hugely important that you schedule regular maintenance, even for your synthetic groundcover.
With things like mulch, you’ll likely need to clean out your mulch beds and replace them with fresh, new mulch because this type of groundcover is going to deteriorate—while it might not deteriorate super quickly, because it’s an organic substance, it’s not going to stay fresh and tidy like our other synthetic options.
For other groundcover, like perennial peanut, ivy, sunflower, and more, you’ll need to respect the groundcover for what it is – alive. This means caring for it with a regular maintenance schedule, protecting it from pests, regularly irrigation and fertilizing it, keeping it from the cold and sudden freezes, and ensuring that your living cover is thriving to the best of its ability. In other words, treat your living groundcover like you’d treat your flowers, plants, trees, and more.
Just remember, maintenance is everything. If your groundcover isn’t being cared for, it’s likely to going to mangle and destroy any progress you’d hope to make with your soil, plants, and surrounding flora and fauna.
It only takes a little groundcover to go a long way for your residential or commercial landscape. With the proper design, installation, and Florida-friendly groundcover picks, your landscape dreams could be a reality, easily!
If you’re interested in learning more about groundcover, how to care for it correctly, and what kind of groundcover your landscape could benefit from, give our office a call at (727)-201-3947today!
Our landscaping experts and experienced designers are ready to help you develop the perfect approach to enhancing your property. As a company, we have improved countless estates in the Tampa Bay Area. For step-by-step aid in beautifying your landscape to learning more about other Florida landscaping tips and tricks, check out our regularly updated blog!
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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.
- Checkerberry/American Wintergreen. ...
- Mondo grass. ...
- Alchemilla Mollis (Lady's Mantle) ...
- Creeping thyme. ...
- Sedum spurium 'Dragons Blood' ...
- Bergenia. ...
In addition to its fragrant spring blooms, lily-of-the-valley is one of the easiest groundcovers to grow. It's perfect in a shady spot off under a big tree in your backyard because it tolerates dry conditions well.
You can also replace grass with Florida native plants sunshine mimosa, perennial peanut and beach sunflower. These plants thrive in sandy soil where grass barely survives. Lak also likes hardy out-of-state upstarts like Japanese sweet flag, Asian star jasmine and creeping herbs like thyme and oregano.
|Phlox Stolonifera||moist conditions||5–9|
|Phlox Subulata (Creeping Phlox)||dry soil||3–9|
|Red Creeping Thyme||dry||3–9|
|Dragon's Blood Sedum||occasional water||3–8|
- Allegheny Spurge. Bottlebrush spikes of white flowers appear just before new spring leaves unfurl. ( ...
- Fetterbush. ...
- Canby's Mountain Lover. ...
- Creeping Phlox. ...
- Moss Phlox. ...
- Other Native Evergreen Groundcovers.
English ivy (Hedera helix) Ivy is one of the toughest, hardiest groundcovers available. Adaptable to almost any condition but dry full sun, it has saved many an “unplantable” area.
But the deep blue racemes double the plant's height from late spring to midsummer. A single shearing or regular deadheading encourages reblooming into fall. Of all the veronicas, 'Goodness Grows' is the best ground cover because it's one of the lowest-growing, longest-blooming, and most reliable cultivars.
To get my ground covers started off on the right foot, I plant them in spring or early summer so they have a chance to root well and are less likely to heave out of the ground in winter.
Although a perennial in many areas of the US, it frequently acts like an annual in Florida. White clover is one of the most nutritious forages available. Research, as well as ranch experience, has demonstrated the superior feed value of a white clover grass mixture compared to grass alone.
You can cover dirt in your yard with fresh sods, a concrete slab, artificial turf, mulch (wood chips), a small wooden deck, paver stones, plants, a picnic area, or you can build a playground in the dirt area.
Fine fescue is the most popular low-maintenance cool-season grass. Hard fescue and fine fescue mixes require very little maintenance. You'll only have to mow your lawn once or twice a year. Fescues are hardy and they'll naturally crowd out weeds, so you don't have to worry about fertilizer, herbicide, or pesticide.
Thyme is a perennial, easy to grow in the Florida garden and landscape. There are many varieties to choose from. Some thyme varieties grow 4- to 8-inches tall; others are very flat, such as creeping thyme. Whichever type you choose, look for a sunny, well-drained spot.
Also known as Woodland phlox, Wild blue phlox(Phlox divaricata) is a delicate perennial wildflower that blooms from spring into early summer. It occurs naturally in slope forests, bluffs and calcareous hammocks. It is limited to four Panhandle counties in Florida, but is widespread throughout the United States.