By Debbie Roland and Emmy Ulmschneider, Master Gardeners
After the rain some of us were blessed with, the weeds will start popping up. Being sure you have plenty of mulch will help with that.
Your soil should never be “naked”. Topsoil is a precious commodity and you need to take care of it. You should have something growing there all the time. I know that weeds are not your first choice, so what is better? The answer is native ground covers. They prevent soil erosion and cut way back on work time in your yard.
Ground covers are usually described as a plants that grow no taller than 6”. Previously in 2021 we described two non-native ground covers, Liriope: Liriope spp., PBMG blog entry 2021-02-20 and Gray Creeping Germander, Teucrium aroanium, PBMG blog entry 2021-07-25. But here are some native ground covers that do well in our area.
Frogfruit, Phyla nodiflora, has a lot going for it: low maintenance, pollinator nectar source, butterfly host plant, tolerates sun or part shade, and dry or moist soil conditions. Frogfruit spreads quickly and is evergreen in warm winters or if protected from frost. It is a possible substitute for grass in a lawn. Because they attract butterflies and native bees they are a candidate for an attractive hanging basket.
Horseherb, Calyptocarpus vialis, needs to be planted in shady and partly shady areas and maintained because it will try to invade your turf. It is evergreen in areas with mild or no winters and deciduous in cold weather. It is a nectar source, attracts butterflies and can be used as a turf. It will need occasional watering in full sun. Where someone sees a weed, others may see a yellow blooming plant.
Silver Ponyfoot, Dichondra argentea, is evergreen and spreads out like a gentle, blue-gray carpet. A morning glory relative, native to our desert regions, it tolerates heat and drought well. Silver Ponyfoot is sometimes grown as annual ground cover. The tiny greenish yellow to white spring flowers are not showy but the cascading form and silver color make for an attractive hanging basket.
Looking for a plant which although not a ground cover, will fill in those empty, dry spaces in a flagstone walkway or along a rock border? Stay tuned for next week!
If you have questions, call the AgriLife office in Odessa at 498-4071 or in Midland at 686-4700.
Additional information is available at westtexasgardening.org. Click on “Resources”.