Groundcovers: A - I

Notes:

  • -- indicates plants commonly available in nurseries and/or garden centers in south Florida
  • © indicates Florida native plants
  • water drop indicates plants that can tolerate wet soils or occasional flooding. 

    Click on linked scientific names for photos and/or more information.

Common name
Scientific name

Size

Light

Salt tolerance

Comments

Bromeliad ¨
Aechmea rubens
(Link is to related species)

Photo and Information

12-24”

Full sun to partial shade

Low

Medium-sized, vase-shaped bromeliad, with green leaves. Flowers appear in summer as tall, red and orange spikes, followed by berries. Related species also drought-tolerant.

Aloe ¨
Aloe barbadensis

UF Fact Sheet (55KB pdf))

1-2’

Full sun to partial shade

High

Medicinal aloe; sap from leaves used for treating burns. Clump-forming succulent with fleshy green leaves. Flowers in winter and spring. Also known as A. vera.

Soap aloe
Aloe saponaria

1-2’

Full sun

High

Stemless rosette that sreads by offset rosettes. Lance-shaped, succulent leaves are pale-green with white speckles and armed with sharp, dark brown teeth. Tubular yellow, orange or red flowers borne on purplish stalk. Requires well-drained soil. Perfect for rock gardens and seaside gardens. Attracts hummingbirds. Other aloes also drought tolerant.

Big bluestem water drop
Andropogon gerardii

5-10’

Full sun

Moderate

Perennial, upright, bunch grass forming large clumps. Stems with blue at base. Leaves blue-green in early summer, maturing to copper or orange-brown in fall. Bronze to purplish seed heads, to 3”, in late summer. Tolerates flooding in summer.

water dropPerennial peanut ¨
Arachis pintoi

UF Fact Sheet

3-4”

Full sun to deep shade

Moderate

Low, non-twining legume with oval-shaped leaflets and yellow pea-like flowers. Stems grow along ground, rooting at nodes when in contact with soil. Will shed leaves during drought. Can tolerate waterlogged soils or frequent flooding, as well as wide range of soils. Grows better under shaded conditions than in full sun. Also known as A. glabrata and A. hypogaea.

Star begonia, winter begonia ¨ water drop
Begonia heracleifolia
 
(Link is to related species)

24-36"

Partial to full shade

None

Rhizomatous (spreads by rhizomes) begonia with large, hairy, deeply lobed, toothed, bronzy green leaves and fragrant, white to pink flowers on long, reddish stalks. Caution: Begonia cucullata is FLEPPC Category II invasive.

White begonia ¨ water drop
Begonia popenoei

24-48"

Partial to full shade

None

Rhizomatous begonia with huge, round, dark glossy green leaves to 2’ wide and large white, fragrant flowers held in large panicles well above foliage.

Castor bean begonia ¨ water drop
Begonia ricinifolia

24-36"

Partial to full shade

None

Rhizomatous begonia with apple green leaves shaped like stars and with rings of red hairs around leaf petioles. Winter blooms are deep pink.

Beach bean
Canavalia maritima

UF Fact Sheet

6-12”

Full sun

High

Attractive purple flowers. Excellent ground cover for beach-front locations, although it can grow into surrounding shrubs or over fences.

Hottenrot fig, iceplant
Carpobrotus edulis

UF Fact Sheet (103KB pdf)

6”

Full sun

High

Prostrate succulent with long, spreading, narrow stems and crowded, erect leaves with finely serrated reddish margins. In spring and summer it produces 3” diameter pale yellow flowers that age to dull pink. Brownish, fig-like fruit follow.

Dwarf natal plum ¨©
Carissa macrocarpa

UF Fact Sheet (40KB pdf)

12-18”

Full sun to light shade

High

Dwarf form of native shrub with attractive, thick, glossy foliage, fragrant , jasmine-like flowers, and edible fruit. The spiny leaves and stems make this a good barrier plant once established. Web blight a problem if excessively wet.

Indian wood-oats
Chasmanthium latifolium

2-5’

Full sun to partial shade

None

Attractive, clump-forming grass with wide leaves and nodding, arching clusters of flat, oat-like seedheads. Resembles small sea-oats. Dried flowerheads highly prized. Also grown as groundcover in shaded areas.

Pineland snowberry ©
Chiococca alba

UF Fact Sheet (42KB pdf)

2-3’

Full sun

Low

Native vining shrub with glossy green, elliptical to lanceolate leaves and tiny white flowers. Also known as C. pinetorum.

Christmas berry, ground holly ©
Crossopetalum ilicifolium

12”

Full sun to partial shade

Low

Native, prostrate, evergreen shrub with small, holly-like, spiny leaves and attractive red berries.

Lemongrass ¨
Cymbopogonwater drop citratus

UF Fact Sheet (46KB pdf)

4-6’

Full sun to light shade

Low

Elegant, fragrant, clumping grass with thin, strap-like, yellow-green leaves that release citrus aroma when crushed. Prefers moist soil; moderate drought tolerance.

Seashore saltgrass
Distichlis spicata

Additional Information

3-6”

Full sun

High

Small, spiky grass with leaves in a single plane. Useful on wet, saline soils. Host plant for wandering skipper butterfly larvae.

Miniature agave ¨
Dyckia brevifolia
(Link is to related species)

6”-2’

Full sun to partial shade

Moderate

Rosette-forming, terrestrial bromeliads. Leaves stiff, linear spiny-margined and often strongly tinged reddish or brownish, or may be coated in silvery scales. Yellow, orange, or red bell-shaped flowers grow from edge rather than center of rosette. Forms large clumps. Suitable as bedding or rock garden plants.

Twinflower ©
Dyschoriste oblongifolia

UF Fact Sheet (71KB pdf)

6-18"

Full sun

Low

Native perennial. Likes pinelands. Grows best in dry sand. Plant close together for best cover.

Beach creeper, golden creeper
Ernodea littoralis

UF Fact Sheet (38KB pdf )

1-3’

Full sun

High

Intolerant of over watering, but excellent as ground cover for beach front. Flowers insignificant.

Dwarf crown-of-thorns ¨
Euphorbia milii

UF Fact Sheet (38KB pdf )

1-3’

Full sun

High

Slow-growing, thorny, semi-succulent shrub with bright green, obovate leaves and small to medium yellow, orange, or red flowers. Excellent in rock gardens. Often used as low hedge in coastal areas. Small Thai dwarf varieties used as bedding plants and groundcovers.

Indian blanket ¨©
Gaillardia pulchella

UF Fact Sheet (216KB pdf)

12-24”

Full sun

High

Colorful native annual or perennial. As easily grown as it is beautiful. Considerable variation in flower color; typical variety bears red flowers with yellow-tipped petals. Plant in open site with good drainage. Good for beach-front plantings.

Gazania ¨
Gazania rigens

UF Fact Sheet (64KB pdf)

6-24”

Full sun

Moderate

Mat-forming plant with crowded rosettes of mostly unlobed leaves that are green above and whitish beneath. Orange flowerheads with a black eye spot at petal bases.

Moss verbena
Glandularia puchella

12”

Full sun to partial shade

Unknown

Freely branching, sprawling perennial with 3-lobed, finely dissected, aromatic leaves and clusters of pink, lilac, purple or white flowers. Requires well-drained soil. Attracts butterflies. Good bedding plant.

Fig marigold
Glottiphyllum depressum
(Link is to related species)

6”

Full sun

High

Light green, semi-cylindrical leaves 3–4” long. Large, yellow, daisy-like flowers produced in spring.

Guzmania ¨
Guzmania lingulata

Plants Profile

12-18”

Partial shade

Low

Small bromeliad with basal rosettes of broad, strap-like, apple-green leaves. Striking bright bracts surround clusters of tubular, white to yellow flowers in summer. Other Guzmania also drought tolerant.

Beach sunflower ©
Helianthus debilis

UF Fact Sheet (65KB pdf)

3-4'

Full sun

High

Erect or prostrate, spreading plant with sand paper-like leaves and 2.5-3” yellow “sun” flowers. Suitable for beach-front plantings. Good for attracting butterflies.

Daylily ¨
Hemerocallis spp.

UF Fact Sheet (227KB pdf))

12-24"

Full sun or partial shade

Moderate

Clump-forming perennial with grass-like leaves and lily-like flowers from late spring to fall, depending on variety. Available in yellow, orange, red, pink, purple, and near-white. Only certain varieties succeed in south Florida (Evergreen, Semis).

Dwarf yaupon holly ¨©
Ilex vomitoria

1-3’

Full sun

High

Dwarf cultivar of native holly. Evergreen, woody shrub with small white flowers and small, brilliant red berries. Highly attractive to butterflies and birds.

Railroad vine ©
Ipomoea pes-caprae

UF Fact Sheet (45KB pdf)

3-8”

Full sun

High

Native, course, sprawling, vine with smooth, fleshy leaves and large, rosy pink flowers.

Beach morning glory
Ipomoea stolonifera

UF Fact Sheet (80KB pdf)

More information

6”

Full sun

High

Twining vine grows over sand dunes. Blooms from spring to fall, with white ‘morning-glory’ flowers opening each morning and closing in the afternoon. Ideal for beach-front.

Beach elder
Iva imbricata

2-3'

Full sun

High

Scraggly, course, shrubby perennial. Good for beach-front plantings.