Ground cover plants are an essential accessory in the garden. Plant them in rockeries, under trees and in garden beds to cover bare patches of earth as a natural mulch alternative.
Calibrachoas: If you want serious colour and wow factor, you can not go past the range of Calibrachoas that are readily available in stores. Flowering almost 12 months of the year these beauties love a full sun, free-draining spot. They make stunning basket and pot specimens as well. The colour range in the flowers is endless, with nearly every colour imaginable except blue.
Floriferous favourites: Verbena, Calibrachoa, Bacopa, Diascia, Gardenia radicans, Lobularia, Lobelia, Supertunias & Pigface.
Gardenia radicans: Gardenias are famous for their outstanding perfume and most are familiar with the various cultivars in the range of shrubs but there is a ground cover form named Gardenia radicans as well. Performing best in an acid soil and a semi-shaded location, the crisp typical white gardenia flowers are smaller than the shrubs but still have that amazing perfume.
Gazania hybrids: Who could go past the old fashioned gazania for a hardy drought tolerant ground cover choice. Best in full sun and in a free-draining soil. The flowers come in an amazing range of warm colour tones such as yellow, orange, burgundy, lemon, pink, burnt orange, mauve as well as white. There are also some lovely double-flowering cultivars. You’ll often see these beauties planted in roundabouts and car parks, a testament to their hardiness.
Favourites: Evolulus pilosus ‘Blue sapphire’, Erigeron karvinkskianus ‘Seaside daisy’, Zoysia tenufolia ‘Temple grass’, Trachelospermum jasminoides var variegata ‘Varigated jasmine’, Juniperus conferta ‘Creeping juniper’, Gazania repens ‘Gazania’, Sagina subulata ‘Irish moss’.
Portulacas: Succulent plants are great when it comes to those hot dry locations where nothing else seems to grow. Portulaca ‘Sunjewels’ will open their pretty face in the morning and close during inclement weather and nightfall. Their flowers come in an array of tropical colours and even a few two-tone varieties as well. These plants are also extremely easy to strike from cuttings. Keep in mind they detest wet feet.
Succulent favourites: Sedum, Aptenia cordifolia ‘Sunrose’, Mesembryanthemum ‘Pigface’, Kalanchoe, Euphorbia millii dwarf.
Sweet potatoes: the popular edible varieties of sweet potato can be really quite a large spreading plant, requiring ample room to spread out and produce tubers. There are also some ornamental cultivars available that still produce some edible tubers but do not spread as far and have fabulous coloured foliage. The bright, lime/green, burgundy and dark purple cultivars make eye catching contrast plants in the garden or containers. Full sun to semi shade, humus rich soil, moderate water and protection from frost will get you off to successful sweet potato cultivation.
Edible Favourites: Thymus ‘Creeping thyme’, Mentha pulegium ‘Pennyroyal’, Origanum vulgare ‘Oregano’, Ipomea batatas ‘Sweet potato’, Mentha requienii ‘Corsican mint’, Mentha x piperita ‘Peppermint’, Arachis pintoi ‘Pintos peanut’, Tropaeolum majus ‘Nasturtiums’ Rosmarius officinale Prostratus ‘Creeping rosemary’.
Grevilleas: There are many species and named cultivars of Grevilleas that are prostrate in their growth habit. These are a fantastic choice for native enthusiasts or people wanting a hardy drought tolerant flowering ground cover that has the potential to be bird attracting as well. My favourites: Grevillea ‘Fanfare’, ‘Royal mantle’, Grevillea lanigera, Grevillea banksii prostrate form, ‘Carpet Layer’ & ‘Pink Midget’.
Native Favourites: Scaevola, Banksia prostrate forms, Hardenbergia violacea, Myoporum, Hibbertia, Brachyscome, Goodenia, Casurina prostrate form, Carpobrotus glaucescens ‘Native Pig Face’.