Ground covers for Xeriscape

Discussion in 'Gardening for Water Conservation' started by lorax, Jul 23, 2007.

  1. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor

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    I'm wondering if anyone knows a good groundcover suitable for xeriscaping? I'm in zone 12 or 13 depending on the maps; the biome is called "humid desert"

    Thanks!
     
  2. Michael F

    Michael F Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    I'm not sure if such a thing exists!

    As a general rule, plants in dry areas are spaced well apart because there is not enough water to permit full ground coverage by foliage: a small tuft of foliage above ground demands a water-gathering root system that extends much further, and stops other plants establishing by denying them access to the water that falls in its root zone.

    There is also the risk that full ground cover can act as a dangerous conduit for fire in dry areas.

    Mostly, people use a thin layer of decorative gravel to make the spaces between plants look more attractive.
     
  3. Gordo

    Gordo Active Member

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    In her book "Gardening the Mediterranean Way", Heidi Gildemeister lists the folllowing ground covers which may or may not work where you live; peanut (Arachis Spp), Hottentot fig (Carpobrotus edulis), wild strawberry (Frageria vesca), Pelargonium, and nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus).
    I would think that a number of prostrate form shrubs might work as well - juniperus, cotoneaster, artemesia.
    Your best bet may be inquire about what is available locally that has worked for others in your area.
     
  4. Dave-Florida

    Dave-Florida Active Member

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    strawberries and nasturtium are of course South American Pacific coast plants!
     
  5. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor

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    that's great guys; if it helps I'm actually low Andean, not coastal. I'll look into the crawling junipers. It gets so hot here some days that I'm leery of going with bare rocks; my plants are drought resistant, but they don't like to be roasted.
     
  6. Newt

    Newt Well-Known Member 10 Years

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  7. Michael F

    Michael F Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Junipers won't be able to cope with the equatorial lack of seasonality (except for perhaps African Juniper Juniperus procera, which is a tree anyway). Strawberries, too, in South America are native a long way further south in Chile, where they get a strongly seasonal climate and a lot higher rainfall.

    Species in Aizoaceae (Mesembryanthemum, Delosperma, Carpobrotus, etc) certainly sound a good choice (and mostly very nice flowers, too).
     
  8. alex66

    alex66 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    cacao plant ?uuuhhmmmm this winter i eat 100kg or more of chocolate(with cacao) by Equador very very good.......alex
     
  9. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor

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    cocoa plants are coastal and like tons of water, unfortunately, or I'd be growing them here. But I do agree, the Ecuadorian cocoa is some of the best in the world...

    I'll check on the azoaceae.
     
  10. Michael F

    Michael F Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    I'll second that!
     

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  11. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    I don't know much about them, but there are some low growing plants in Cactaceae. Perhaps some nice opuntias or Maihuenia. I am sure there are other cacti that would work, if you can find a source.
     
  12. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor

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    You're in GB, yes? See if you can find something called "chocolate superior" by Cocoa Universal - they're an Ecuadorian company and they've just started to make inroads into the European chocolate market. The bars are on par with the Lindt & Spreugli grand cru in your picture...

    Eric:

    I've got a large variety of opuntias growing already, but haven't come across a creeper yet. If I find a creeping cactus, though, I'll be going with that. It's better than a fence!
     
  13. Michael F

    Michael F Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    I'll keep an eye out for it, thanks!

    If you want a cactus that will really discourage intruders, try Cylindropuntia fulgida or related species . . . vicious!
     
  14. alex66

    alex66 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Lorax in Italy some person use Sedum for cover the roof garden "0" water and more zone of Italy like Sicily have similar conditions to Equador ;Michael if you find this chocolate send pics !tank you alex
     
  15. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor

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    Micheal - I've got jumping chollas already. Nasty, vicious creatures! They go through my work gloves, I'm afraid to try taking arms off to re-plant. I got jumped on by one the other day, and the spines went right through the soles of my shoes. They're worse than the acacias down here for spiking me...
     
  16. Michael F

    Michael F Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    When I was on a holiday in Arizona a few years ago, I was warned about them, and stayed well clear . . . but the person who told me all about how far they can jump, got hit! (and I'd swear that he didn't go within a metre of the plant, either ;-)
     
  17. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor

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    Yeah, that's Murphy's law for you.

    I've actually found an interesting creeping cactus on a local hill, and I'm going to try propagating it for my xeriscape... Cacti are actually pretty friendly to multiply here.

    On the Cocoa Digression: this is the Chocolate Superior as it looks in Ecuador.
     

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  18. pccrozat

    pccrozat Member

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    Hi check the on line catalogue of the Filippi nursery (southern Frnace) for excellent info on dry landscaping (www.jardin-sec.com)...it s in French (!)
     
  19. Michael F

    Michael F Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Here's the link correctly: http://www.jardin-sec.com/ (always have a space or a carriage return after an URL! - the software treated the adjacent bracket and fullstops above as part of the URL!)
     
  20. Liz

    Liz Well-Known Member

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  21. gardenart

    gardenart Member

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    Rosemary works well in our area. Northern California, USA, hot dry summers, and almost freezing (sometimes freezing) winters.
     
  22. Dave-Florida

    Dave-Florida Active Member

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    rosemary thrives in Portland, Oregon, too. I guess it was appropriate that Grand Central Bakery's store-with-bakery on Hawthorne had lots of rosemary plants around the parking lot.
     
  23. Karalyn

    Karalyn Active Member

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    Wow, I learned something new! I didn't know that about dry areas and plants needing to be planted apart. Good to know!
     
  24. Michael F

    Michael F Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    I was of course referring to really dry conditions there, semi-desert or even true desert; if you look at a natural semi-desert habitat, there is a lot of bare ground in between the plants - but dig in that bare ground, and there'll be lots of fine water-gathering roots there.
     
  25. Karalyn

    Karalyn Active Member

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    Oh, my son who is now 28, told us that in his earth science class that the desert has all it needs to grow plants if they just had the moisture to do so. So I guess he learned that correctly, although where I live in Idaho, we are surrounded by desert, and through irrigation canals we are able to grow many things.

    Thanks to the Boise River and the snow on the mountains that fill our reservoirs. But now we are having horrible forest fires. Sniff...
     

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