Ground covers are low-growing plants used in areas where it is difficult to grow lawn grass or where lawn grass is not wanted. Ground covers add interesting textures and colors to the landscape and reduce yard maintenance because they are not mowed and require less fertilization. Several ground cover plants do well throughout Florida.
Carolina Yellow Jessamine
Grow Carolina yellow jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens) for its dark green, glossy leaves and bright yellow, funnel-shaped flowers. Carolina yellow jessamine is a fine-textured, climbing evergreen vine of variable size with a moderate growth rate. Its leaves are about 1 inch long and its fragrant, 1-inch long flowers appear in late January to early February. Grow Carolina jessamine in full sun for the best flowering to partial shade on a wide range of soils. Be aware that all parts of Carolina jessamine are toxic if eaten.
Confederate jasmine (Trachelospermum asiaticum), also known as Japanese star jasmine, is an evergreen vine with a fine texture. Its leaves are 1 inch long, shiny, and dark green with light green main veins and pale undersides. The 3/4-inch long Confederate jasmine flowers appear in May and are yellowish-white with a slight fragrance. The flowers are not very prolific. Grow in full sun or partial shade in a wide range of soil and light conditions. Confederate jasmine resists some trampling.
Creeping juniper (Juniperus horizontalis) is a coniferous, evergreen shrub with a low-growing, spreading form. Creeping juniper grows to 2 feet tall but is usually seen under 1 foot tall. Creeping juniper is most suitable to the northern Florida climate and prefers full sun and nutrient-rich, well-drained soils. Creeping juniper will not tolerate waterlogged conditions. Its branches easily break beneath foot traffic.
Grow mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicus) where it is too shady for lawn grass. The plant will not tolerate foot traffic. It forms clumping, grass-like mats up to 10 inches tall with indeterminate spread. Mondo grass has dark green, curving, glossy leaves and is generally pest-free and easy to maintain. Grow mondo grass in partial to full shade on a wide range of soils.
Creeping fig (Ficus pumila) grows rapidly and will cover large areas quickly. It is a creeping woody vine with 1- to 2-inch long leaves that grows in all areas of Florida in almost any soil or light conditions. Prune creeping fig often to keep size under control.