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Growing low

October 26, 2018
By H.I. JEAN SHIELDS - Garden Club of Cape Coral ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Growing low can be just as fun, creative and interesting as the usual gardening choices of flowers, shrubs and twinning vines. Ground covers are easy, long lived and can be colorful as well.

The usual use of ground covers is to fill in awkward bare spaces in the yard, rock gardens and even erosion areas.

When you start to investigate what is available, you will be surprised that there are many verities suitable for our area.

Ground cover styles are not usually mixed but can be. One variety may be planted around a mature palm, another along the walk, as the greenery drifts down around the edges of a hard rocky surface.

You need to know if your choice is for sun, shade or a mix of shades. A high old oak tree or mature palm is sunnier at the soil level than you may think.

The most popular and easy care ground covers for our area appear to be Perennial Peanut, Sunshine Mimosa and Dwarf Chenille. All three have a tiny delicate flower.

Perennial Peanut is the ground cover with perky yellow flowers that you see in some of our medians. They thrive in full sun and do not seem to mind all the automobile exhaust fumes. Very sturdy. They handle some foot traffic but with as most ground cover, they are not grass and a path or stepping-stones may be necessary if you plant in a high foot traffic area.

Mimosa has a tiny pink flower and when you touch the tiny leaves they kind of curl up, fun for kids.

Dwarf Chenille has a little darker purple or violet flower that is a little more visible. This one does very well in light shade or high light areas.

Plant as usual without dried tangled roots, into a hole as deep as it has been in its nursery pot, a bit of topsoil would be nice. Do not plant in clay soil or in wet spots, they like the regular lawn sprinkler and maybe need a little watering with a long drought.

Remember anything in fine sandy soil will need some watering when we have a summer drought.

Plant about 2 or 3 feet apart. As the plants grow and spread, you may find some grass springing up in the bare spots. Pull by hand or run over the patch with a lawn mower with blades high enough to clip only the weeds.

The cold in this area is not usually a problem so if you are building a new house and want to start a ground cover, no problem. They will take the cold and may look droopy but will re-grow pretty well.

Remember with any planting, a couple nights of cold is not too bad, more than that or real low dew temperatures are hard for plants to survive.

We can think about that in a few months.

These ground covers are nice along the Cape canal banks, or a strip of lawn area that is hard to grow anything else.

Other ground covers of interest are Blue Pacific Juniper or some Confederate Jasmine types.

Enjoy the weather change and happy gardening till we meet again.

H.I. Jean Shields is Past President of the Garden Club of Cape Coral.



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