Plants with a ground-covering growth habit, be they native or exotic, are worthwhile additions to the garden. In company with organic mulch they help to reduce weed growth and evaporation. They also provide flowers at ground level.
An occasional tip pruning will increase foliage density and thus improve their evaporation-reducing and weed-suppressing capabilities.
Groundcovers have two types of growth habits. One type grows flat on the ground, while the other grows into a mound. Usually mounded ground covers reach a height of 50 centimetres.
This time we will concentrate on flat groundcovers.
Myoporum parvifolium, the creeping boobialla, is our favourite flat ground cover. This hardy species will form a dense carpet exceeding one metre in diameter. The leaves are light green and have a succulent feel.
Leaves may be short and almost rectangular or long and narrow. The flowers may be white or pink, star-shaped with five petals. The blooms cover plants in spring and summer providing a mat of colour during the warmer months.
The creeping boobialla is one of the easiest plants to propagate from cuttings. In fact, pieces about 15 centimetres long with the lower leaves removed and placed in the same hole as new plants will take root.
Grevillea royal mantle and Grevillea bedspread are two vigorous grevilleas that develop into dense ground covers.
Grevillea poorinda royal mantle is a hybrid that was introduced into cultivation in 1978. Plants will spread to over three metres in a few years. The leaves may be entire or lobed. They are dark green. New growth is silky.
The large toothbrush-shaped flowers are dark tomato red with yellow stigmas. The foliage provides a contrast with the conspicuous blooms. Spring and summer are the flowering period. Honeyeaters are frequent visitors.
Grevillea bedspread is another hybrid. One parent is “poorinda royal mantle” and the other is a rare species from the Tumut area. “Bedspread” will also spread for at least three metres. Large dark green leaves have serrated margins. The tooth-brush flowers are dark red to purple. Flowering extends from spring to autumn.
Grevillea “bedspread” is used to great effect on the slopes around Parliament House in Canberra.
Both grevilleas could be used to cover embankments. They will help to stabilise and reduce erosion on embankments and slopes.
Scaevola mauve clusters, a fan flower, is a dense groundcover that will spread between one and two metres. The leaves are toothed and wedge-shaped. For many months, plants produce small, fan-shaped (hence the common name) mauve flowers. What the flowers lack in size they make up for in quantity. Blooms are often so prolific that they hide the foliage.
Mauve clusters would be an ideal addition to native cottage gardens and rockeries. As with all these ground covers, tip pruning will improve their density.
These are just a few native ground covers that will help inhibit weed growth, reduce evaporation and bring colour to your garden.