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Ground Covers for Tropical Climates

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There are a variety of reasons to use ground covers in your garden, we love them and encourage our clients to make good use of what is available up here in the tropics.

Ground covers will help drown out the weeds in your garden beds, give great dimension, elegance and attention to detail not to mention doing your part to prevent soil erosion.

When choosing a ground cover we have such a great selection here in the tropics however not all nurseries stock all ground covers. Online shopping can be a great tool in helping you track down the perfect ground cover.

Soil preparation is an essential part of ground covers because once the ground cover is settled in it can be quite hard to get into spaces to hand pick weeds, spraying poisons is risky and you may damage foliage of trying to get around the ground cover. Do compost with organic matter as this will kick you off to a great start.

In general most ground covers are low maintenance however a good irrigation set up will be required when establishing to ensure a good strong healthy root system.

Some of the ground covers we have used in the tropics include:

Mondo Grass (green) standard & mini

I was actually surprised to read one day in a book that the Mondo grass is not actually a grass at all but rather from the lily family.

It is evergreen with beautiful rich green foliage and spreads out in clumps. I like to hand pick dead foliage out of our Mondo's to give it a clean prestige look at all times. If your handy in the garden don't be scared to dig up clumps and start dividing, this will give you a ongoing supply.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Mondo-Grass-green.jpg

Stripey Mondo

A stunning white and green variegated foliage growing approx 40cm in height.

Very easy to grow and quite hardy once established which is why its one of my top plants in the garden in fact i am using this type of Mondo to hedge around a garden bed which has allot of green. The silver foliage will break up the green, soften the edges and give a wonderful contrast.  

b2ap3_thumbnail_Stripey-Mondo-Grass.jpg

Rhoeo

This would have to be the most widely used ground cover in Darwin, it has such a gorgeous contrast from a wonderful purple on one side of the leaf then a deep green on the other side.

This ground cover is very hardy, adaptable to most soil conditions and propagation is dead easy.

Requires little water, prefers full sun to part shade i have these in both but must say the Rhoeo that is in part shade has a richer color than the ones in full sun.

Fertilise regularly to keep Rhoeo looking at its best and don't over water will grow approx 30cm in height.

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Stromanthe Purple

White and green upper leaves with a gorgeous purple underneath.

Grows well in shady or part shady positions, fertilise regularly and add organic mulch to see this ground cover at its best.

Approx 40cm in height

b2ap3_thumbnail_Stromanthe-Purple.jpg

Aglanomea Silver King


A Great ground cover for shady areas and likes to be kept well watered, fertilise regular and add organic mulch to keep this one looking in top shape.

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Bromeliads

These carry some of the most interesting flowers to be seen, there are so many stunning varieties that i will have to make a post just one this topic to show you what is around. In Darwin we are spoilt for choice with all good garden nurseries stocking many variety as well as most of our weekend markets having selections at great prices.

Very easy to grow and propagate, just keep in the center of the broms- i like to give them a good hose down to clean the center out every now and then so the water is flushed clean.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Bromeliad.jpg

Liriope (purple)

A dainty looking evergreen grassy leaf ground cover with perfect little purple flowers, very hardy and adaptable to most soil conditions.

Grows well in both sun and shade, approx 25cm.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Liriope.jpg

Aloe Vera

Widely known for its medicinal properties these are very hardy growing in well drained soils, approx 30cm.

Leaves are dark grey/green with tiny blunt burs, flowers can be a yellow/orange, lightly fertilise.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Aloe-Vera.jpg

Ruby Leaf

Year round deep ruby/ burgundy foliage, gets little cream flowers but mainly grown for the foliage colour.

Ive currently got this one in the garden but have to admit I'm not the biggest fan of it, it requires regular pruning to keep it looking neat and i find the sap seems to react with my skin. When Ive been a bit busy to cut it back it looks very twiggy and almost weed like in appearance. Can be grown in full sun to part shade and reaches half to a meter tall. Quite hardy requires little water.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Ruby-Leaf.jpg

Blue Marguerite

Bright blue daisy like flowers that look great scrambling over rockeries, full sun to part shade.

Water regular and best suited in free draining soil, approx 30cm in height

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Coastal Morning Glory

A native ground cover with purple flowers, very hardy and grows well in sandy soils.

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Seaside Daisy

Masses of dainty pink and white flowers, quite a hardy perennial ground cover growing well in full sun.

Slow growing however can get quite invasive so if growing this one keep an eye on it and cut back regularly, approx 40cm  

b2ap3_thumbnail_Sea-Side-Daisey.jpg

 Dichondra Repens

I love seeing this ground cover creeping in between pavers and cracks in concrete, it has a very dense clover like leaf and can grow in full sun to part shade conditions.

We have used this one as a full lawn substitute in the past with great success, low maintenance approx 15cm in height

b2ap3_thumbnail_Dichondra-Repens.jpg

Spider Lily

Another well known and seen plant in Darwin used for ground covering.

The strap leaves emerge from bulbs forming underground, they will grow in tight clusters and have a six spider like petals on flowers which will appear one and off all year round up here.

Very low maintenance, let the stems and leaves die off naturally then hand pick them out.

Fast spreading approx 60cm in height.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Spider-Lily.jpg

Creeping Vitex

A native ground cover with grey green leaves and a gorgeous purple orchid like flower which grow in clusters with a spicy fragrance.

Will grow well in a variety of soil conditions.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Creeping-vitex.jpg

Heucherella Spotlight

Burgundy veins flow through bright green leaves, a winner if looking for striking contrast in part shaded areas.

Keep well watered and divide every now  and then to remove any dead foliage and keep it looking fresh.

Butterfly attracting, approx 20cm in height

b2ap3_thumbnail_Heucherella-spotlight.jpg

Cut Leaf Daisy

This is a sweet little daisy that comes in a variety of colours and is very hardy,  requires very little water once established.

Prefers free draining soils but ive had this one also in a few different soil conditions with success.

b2ap3_thumbnail_cut-leaf-daisy.jpg

Canavalia Rosea

A decorative trailing ground cover with thick leathery leaves aad attractive purple/ pink flowers.

Grows well in a variety of soils, pest and disease resistant and requires no fertilising.

Harshly prune as this one can get away and grows quite rapid, Ive seen a few places in Darwin that have let this one go wild and its ended up in quite a mess and taken quite a bit of work to get under control. I have a book that says this one is slow growing but from my experience i'ld class it in the fast growing category maybe its my soil but i find myself always cutting it back.

b2ap3_thumbnail_carnavailia.jpg

 

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©Kylie Stephens
Tagged in: ground cover
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