What flowering ground cover (can be tall) should I use? - Knowledgebase Question

Long Beach, Ca
Question by asnowden
May 9, 2008
I need help in deciding what to plant on a west-facing slope in my front yard. This is the area just past the sidewalk & before the lawn. I live in Long Beach, CA. Most of the slope gets sun all day. A small portion gets only afternoon sun. It gets very hot here July thru September. I'd like plants that flower, maybe at different times of the year. I like pinks, purples, white, blues. I don't like yellow & orange. I need to consider water usage, too, although I don't want desert plants.

Any help will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks very much,

Adrienne Snowden

Answer from NGA
May 9, 2008


Here are some suggestions for drought-tolerant groundcovers:
Achillea ageratifolia (Greek yarrow) 2-3" Gray-green foliage; spreading.
Achillea tomentosa(Woolly yarrow) 2-4" Grayish foliage in low mats.
Alyssum montanum(Mountain alyssum) 4-12" Yellow flowers; gray-green foliage; good for rock gardens.
Anacyclus pyrethrum var. depressus (Mount Atlas daisy) 1-3" White daisies with red undersides; silvery foliage.
Antennaria dioica (Pussytoes) 1-2" Persistent gray-green foliage in dense mats; excellent for rocky slopes.
Arabis caucasica (alpina) Rockcress, 6-9" Soft, gray, spreading foliage; common variety is 'Snowcap'.
Artemisia spp. (Sage) 10-15" Silvery foliage; A. schmidtiana (silver mound sage) most common.
Aubrieta deltoidea (False rockcress) 4-6" Several varieties; mat-like foliage.
Aurinia saxatilis (Basket-of-gold) 8-18" Shear after bloom; good for rock gardens.
Callirhoe involucrata (Poppy mallow, winecups) 4-12" Trailing stems with saucer-like flowers.
Centaurea montana (Perennial bachelor button) 15-18" Grayish foliage; blue flowers.
Cerastium tomentosum (Snow-in-summer) 6" Gray foliage; white flowers; very aggressive.
Coreopsis auriculata (Dwarf coreopsis) 5-15" Stoloniferous mats of slender leaves; orange or yellow blooms in summer.
Delosperma cooperi (Purple ice plant) 2-4" Succulent foliage turns reddish in winter; purple flowers.
Delosperma nubigenum (Yellow ice plant) 1-2" Succulent, light-green foliage; yellow flowers.
Duchesnea indica (Mock strawberry) 4-6" Aggressive creeper; looks much like strawberry; yellow flowers; inedible, red fruit.
Eriogonum umbellatum (Sulphur flower) 6-12" Showy flower stalk to 8 inches tall; foliage in low mat.
Euphorbia polychroma (Cushion spurge) 12-18" Mounds of foliage that change from reddish to green in spring, then scarlet in fall.
Festuca ovina glauca (Blue fescue) 6-8" Tufts of grayish, grassy foliage.
Frangaria vesca (Runnerless strawberry) 2-6" Native strawberry; small edible berries.
Gypsophila repens (Creeping baby's breath) 4-6" Gray-green foliage; trailing
Nepeta x faassenii (Catmint) 15-36" Commonly sold varieties are ?Six Hills Giant? and ?Walker?s Low?.
Oenothera speciosa (Mexican evening primrose) 6-12" Spreads quickly; may become invasive; pink blooms.
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper Vine) Can use as vine or groundcover; aggressive; red fall color; commonly sold variety is ?Engelmannii?.
Penstemon pinifolius (Pineleaf penstemon) 6-10" Has needle-like leaves and orange-red flowers; takes heat well.
Phlox subulata (Creeping phlox) 6-8" Reddish, white or lavender flowers; moss-like foliage.
Polygonum affine (Himalayan border jewel) 12-18" Red, showy flowers late in season; excellent ground cover for dry areas.
Polygonum aubertii (Silverlace vine) Vine Aggressive vine usable as ground cover.
Potentilla nepalensis ?Miss Willmott? (Miss Willmott cinquefoil) 10-16" Strawberry-like leaves; rosy-red flowers that bloom in June and July.
Potentilla neumanniana ?Nana? (Dwarf creeping potentilla) 2-4 Very low mat with yellow, showy flowers; aggressive.
Prunella grandiflora (Self-heal) 8-12" Dense mat; several varieties; can grow in part shade.
Prunella laciniata (Lacy self heal) 8-12" Fuzzy evergreen foliage; can grow in part shade.
Prunus besseyi (Pawnee Buttes sandcherry) 15-18" Similar to native sandcherry but with a low, spreading habit; woody plant.
Rhus aromatica ?Gro-low? (?Gro-low? Fragrant sumac) 24-26" Vibrant orange-red fall color; very drought tolerant; woody plant; can spread up to 8 feet in diameter.
Rosa x ?Sea Foam? (Creeping buttercup) 24-36" Double-white blooms; trailing groundcover or over walls; can spread up to 6 feet in diameter.
Santolina chamaecyparissus (Lavender-cotton) 12-18 Blue-gray, persistent foliage in dense mats.
Saponaria ocymoides (Rock soapwort) 6-12" Pink blooms in May and June; shear after bloom.
Sedum spp. (Stonecrop (sedum) 1-15" Many forms available; not usually competitive with weeds.
Sempervivum spp. (Houseleek, hen and chicks) 2-4 Forms dense, evergreen mats; grows in very poor soils.
Stachys byzantina (Lamb's Ear) 8-10" Furry, gray leaves resemble a lamb?s ear; can be invasive unless flowerless varieties are used.
Symphoricarpos x chenaulti (?Hancock? Hancock coralberry) 24-36" Can spread to 12 feet in diameter; stems root where they touch the ground; can grow in filtered shade.
Tanacetum densum amani (Partridge feather) 6-8 Finely-cut, silvery-white foliage; yellow blooms in May and June.
Teucrium chamaedrys (Germander) 8-12" Dark green leaves; evergreen; erect stems; can be sheared.
Thymus praecox (Creeping thyme) 1-4 Low growing, fragrant, evergreen foliage.
Thymus praecox ?Pseudolanuginosus? Woolly thyme 1-4 Mat-like, woolly-gray foliage; turns purplish in winter; sparse flowers.
Thymus serpyllum (Mother-of-thyme )3-6 Low, mat-forming herb with tiny leaves; gray-green foliage.
Thymus x citriodorus (Lemon thyme) 6-12" Lemon-scented foliage.
Verbena bipinnatifida (Plains verbena) 3-6 Deeply-cut foliage; sprawling stems up to 18 inches.
Veronica filiformis (Birdseye speedwell) 1-3" Grows quickly; blue flowers bloom June through August.
Veronica liwanensis (Turkish veronica) 1-4 Dark green leaves and cobalt blue flowers bloom in May and June.
Veronica pectinata (Woolly veronica) 1-2 Low growing; gray foliage; evergreen some winters.
Veronica prostrata (Prostrate speedwell) 1-2 Dark green foliage; deep blue flowers in short spikes.
Zauschneria garrettii (Orange Carpet California fuchsia) 4-12" Good for cascading over walls; orange tubular flowers in September and August.

Hope this list is helpful!

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