Groundcovers are the unsung heroes of Fort Lauderdale gardens. They help balance the layout of our landscape, filling in empty gaps and setting the stage so our flashier statement plants can really shine.
Groundcovers can also make great turf alternatives if you’re bored with standard lawn grasses. Low-growing, dense mats of foliage can bring some unique visual interest to the landscape, especially if they produce flowers. Some can even be mowed just like grass!
Here are our top 12 favorite groundcover plants for the many different gardens in Fort Lauderdale.
Full Sun Ground Cover Florida Plants
These tough, heat-loving groundcovers aren’t fazed by the intense, direct sunlight of our tropical climate. Plant these in your yard if shade isn’t in high supply.
Coral Creeper: There’s an undeniable charm about this fast-growing groundcover, whose wild and slightly unkempt appearance adds a fun, textured, shabby-chic look. Bright coral flowers pop up from a bed of glossy green foliage—very on-trend, as Pantone named Living Coral the official color of 2019! While it grows up to 2′ tall, its vining attribute makes a pretty groundcover. It should be trimmed back every spring to keep it from getting too unruly.
Blue Daze: The icy blue flowers of this groundcover are truly eye-catching. It’s not often that you see such a crisp shade of blue in the plant world! Blue Daze prefers moist, well-drained, average soil. Don’t let it stand in water, or it may get a fungal disease. It’s also highly tolerant of salt spray, so if you live by the coast, this is a great option. Blue Daze will grow to be around 1.5′ feet tall and spread 3′ wide.
Blue-Eyed Grass: Actually a member of the iris family, pollinators love the pretty blooms on Blue-Eyed Grass. While this plant can withstand some drought, it’s better to water it regularly. Otherwise, it will become more vulnerable to mealybug damage at the root level. Blue-eyed grass grows up to 1′ tall and wide. It also produces adorable round flowers ranging in shades of purple to blue.
Florida Shade Ground Cover Plants
If a canopy of trees casts shade on your yard, you’ll love these groundcovers that don’t need much sun to keep shining brightly.
Asiatic Jasmine: This glossy green plant will spread like wildfire, reaching 30′ wide, and around 1-3′ tall at most. It’s pretty tough against foot traffic, too. If you have pets or kids that run around in the yard a lot, planting asiatic jasmine instead of typical lawn grass is a good plan.
Mondo Grass: If you’re looking for a groundcover that isn’t too hard to keep up with, this one’s a winner. This slow-growing groundcover, also known as Dwarf Liriope, has dark green, grassy mounds of foliage that produce pretty white flowers in the summer. It only spread to about 2′ wide, so it might be worth planting a few throughout the garden to fill in patches here and there.
Algerian Ivy: While this ivy does grow pretty fast, it’s not quite as aggressive as its infamous cousin, the English Ivy. There are a few different cultivars, some with solid-color leaves, and others with variegated foliage with distinctive white trims. It grows up to 1′ tall and spreads up to 6′ wide.
Florida Drought Tolerant Ground Cover Plants
Are you the forgetful type who can’t always find the time to get out and water the garden? If so, these are the plants for you:
Dianthus: The brightly-colored petals of this flowering groundcover look like they were cut out with zigzag craft scissors! Dianthus attract a lot of attention with the texture and vibrancy they add to the landscape. They don’t just look amazing; they smell amazing, too. They make great border plants along the edges of walkways and gardens, with most varieties measuring 1-3′ tall. Deadhead the spent flowers regularly to keep it healthy-looking and blooming continuously. Be sure to water at the base of the plant—not directly on the leaves—to help prevent mildew.
Artemisia: The dusty grey-green leaves of this plant make it an excellent addition to the landscape if you’re going for more of a cool-toned color palette. Pair it up with some blue and purple flowers for maximum impact. It produces little miniature panicles of flowers, usually in shades of white or light yellow. Artemisia grows up to 3′ tall and 2′ wide. Don’t overwater this one or let it sit in soggy, poorly-drained soil—this plant thrives from a bit of neglect.
Perennial Peanut: This mat-forming plant will grow up to 6-12″ tall, and can spread up to 8′ wide. It’s seriously low-maintenance, requiring no fertilizer and barely any water. You can mow it too, but it doesn’t grow too fast, so you don’t need to mow often. In summer and fall, it produces tiny, sunny yellow blossoms.
Florida Native Ground Cover Plants
If you want a fuss-free garden requiring little upkeep, native plants are fully adapted to grow naturally here in Fort Lauderdale.
Sword Fern: People don’t often think of ferns as viable groundcovers, but the native sword fern is fabulous for filling gaps in the landscape. It’s especially effective in corners that don’t get much sun, because it does best in partial to full shade. Its long, textured leaves will reach up to 4′ in both height and width.
Beach Sunflower: We love this native flowering groundcover, and so does the local wildlife. Its yellow sunflowers produce seeds that birds and other critters can’t resist! It grows up to 3′ wide, 2′ tall, and does best in sandy soil with excellent drainage. Soggy soil is a big no-no for this one!
Railroad Vine: Also known as the Sweet Potato Vine, we love the bright lemon-lime foliage of this quick-spreading groundcover. It can grow up to 40′ wide! The color of its flowers depends on which cultivar you choose—some are delicate pastels, and others are ultra-vivid jewel tones.
To see our full collection of fabulous groundcover plants that thrive in our hot southern climate, visit Living Color Garden Center. We’ll help you cover lots of ground in our greenhouse with a guided tour!