Australian Native Ground Cover Plants
Ground Cover Plants are known in landscaping as low-laying plants that spread across and cover sections of ground. They are normally renowned for their low-maintenance nature and beautiful aesthetic qualities. A common landscape decorative, they are often used to cover large areas of land and provide colour, texture and vibrancy. With functional qualities as well, such as controlling erosion and minimising weeds, their abilities branch beyond mere aesthetic enhancement. In some cases, where the climate and conditions allow it, ground covering plants can be used in favour of grass entirely and serve as an easy, self-serving option. Thus, ground covering plants can be an aesthetically pleasing alternative and a low maintenance option worth considering as a new addition to your budding garden. One of the best reasons to have ground covering in your garden is to protect the soil health from bleaching and drying effects from the sun and wind. It’s a nice alternative to bark and stone ground covers that create a cooler microclimate in your garden.
Native ground cover plants for Australia
We are spoilt for choice when it comes to attractive and prosperous native ground cover plants in Australia. Beyond their moisture-retaining, space-filling, and often aesthetically pleasing attributes, planting a native ground cover species can enhance your garden’s environment by attracting local birds, insects and reptiles to the area and improving the ecosystem.
As with any flora, native ground cover plants should be planted in weed-free and well-mulched settings. This will set them up for long-term health and fragrance. Many of the top-recommended Australian native ground cover plants are chosen because they are drought and flood-resistant and suit a wide range of soil types and harsh climates.
Fast-growing ground cover plants for Australia
Native ground cover plants are generally categorised as spreading wide and growing between 4cm to 50cm in height. If you are seeking fast-growing ground cover plants to add texture and colour and fill gaps in your Australian garden, here are our top four recommendations:
- Native violet (Viola Hederacca) – One of our favourite native ground cover plants, the native violet offers evergreen foliage, delicate lilacs, and white flowers.
- Japanese Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum Asiaticum) – Fast-growing, this sweet floral smelling plant is the cousin of the well-loved Star Jasmine and offers a dense matt look to fill in areas around trees and shrubs.
- Two-flowered Knawel (Scleranthus Biflorus) – Ideal for sunny environments, this native ground cover plant appears like a bright, soft cushion.
- Kidneyweed (Dichondra Repens) – Fast spreading and low profile Dichondra Repens native ground cover is a beautiful deep-green landscaping option.
Low-maintenance Ground Cover Plants for Australian Gardens
Most of the time, native ground cover plants in Australia act as a backdrop to other garden features, and it is worthwhile choosing low-maintenance varieties for minimal stress. The above fast-growing varieties will suit low-maintenance objectives, as will the following three recommendations:
- Ajuga (Bugleweed) – Super-low maintenance is required for Bugleweeds, which offer deep burgundy foliage and hints of blue flowers in Springtime.
- Myoporum Yareena™ – Hardy and low maintenance Yareena™ forms a dense, resilient carpet and helps fill a vibrant native garden.
- Creeping Boobialla (Myoporum Parvifolium Fine Leaf White) – Native, dense, low-maintenance ground cover has glossy green leaves and bears white flowers during spring/summer.
- Cut-leaf Daisy (Brachyscome Multifada) – Terrific as a ground cover or border plant, this native ground cover is hardy and will add pink, mauve or white flowers in an outdoor space.
Fortunately for us, here in Australia, we have access to a vast array of Australian native ground cover plants. The available varieties give any gardener or aspiring landscaper an optimal array and selection that are bound to flourish and excel in the Australian climate. Each with distinct aesthetic and functional qualities, choosing the most beneficial ground covering plant is a delicate process.
Top 10 Ground covers for all types of gardens
Myoporum parvifolium – Creeping Boobialla
A very hardy Australian native ground cover popular for its vibrant fresh lime green foliage and masses of white flowers in Spring and Summer. This ground cover can tolerate most conditions and thrives in full sun. quick spreading and extremely low maintenance. Creeping Boobialla looks great cascading down rockeries or off a retaining wall.
Pratia pedunculata – Matted Pratia
Another great native ideal for flowing rockeries or the designer choice for inbetween stepping stones, Pratia likes part shade/sun positions. Medium watering needs.
Trachelospermum asiaticum – Japanese Star Jasmine
Prostrate version of the Star Jasmine can grow in most conditions , with regular trimming it will encourage the Star jasmine a bushier habit. Star Jasmine can tolerate neglect but with care and maintenance it responses very well.
Gardenia augusta ‘Radicans’ – Cape Jasmine
One of the more challenging groundcovers , Gardenia radicans, suits the more classic formal gardens. Usually planted on lower shelf borders the radicans spreads in a prostrate form yet still produces highly fragrant gardenia flowers. It prefers well drained soil, full sun positions with medium to high water needs and requires regular Gardenia specialised food.
Senecio serpens – Chalk sticks
One of the most low maintenance groundcovers you can plant in your garden with big visual impact. A sea of blue throughout the year contrasting against feature trees wil make your garden a stand out with little or no maintenance.
Plectranthus coleoides ‘Nico’
For those shade/part shade positions in your garden where you wants a large area filled up with a groundcover. Can tolerate dry periods Nico can be a visual spectacular with a sea of dark green leaves with a purple under belly. Nico spread beautifully across your garden yet not being invasive. Flowering in Autumn Nico produces a pruple spike flower on mass. To avoid legginess cut it back hard to 5cm in Winter and watch it pop back up the following weeks.
Hylotelephium spectabile –‘Sedum Autumn Joy’
Plant on mass in your dry sunny garden and from summer to Autumn you will have a flower show like no other with maintenance. Plant 50cm or more apart and each year your plants will get better and better. By the second or third year you will have a sea of pink atomic bomb flower heads , flowering prolifically through the first few months of the year. The Autumn joy starts off with nude pink flower and age into a dark dusty teraacotta pink well into Autumn. Requires low water needs and full sun.
Dichondra Repens – Kidney Weed
Native to Australia Dichondra is an alternative to turf for your shadey spots where grass wont grow. Displaying a beautiful fleshy kidney shapes foliage it can add greenery to your shady garden with minimal effort.
Viola Hederacea – Native Viola
Our native Viola is one of the most attractive ground covers for a shady part of you garden. Very similar to the dichondra but with added spectacular purple and mauve flowers in spring and summer. Keep your soil moist for this beauty. The native viola is a great addition for planting in pots.
Rosemary officinalis – Prostrate Rosemary
For a dry hot garden or for those who prefer a productive garden filled with herbs and fruits. This Rosemary is designed to grow sideways across your garden floor but still provides the exact same foliage for culinary or aromatic uses.
FAQs – Australian Native Ground Cover
What is the fastest growing ground cover plant?
All ground covering plants have different requirements and will respectively grow at different rates based on conditions and level of care. However, Plectranthus varieties is often cited as the fastest growing shaded variety. Helichrysum petiolare is a vigorious grower for your full sun areas that also provides silver foliage to brighten up you garden and give some colour and texture contrast. Both these varieties are not invasive. Its important when choosing a fast growing ground cover, that it is not invasive and easy to remove in the future. Many fast growing ground covers or planst can be a nightmare in the garden.
What is the best low maintenance ground cover?
By definition, ground covering plants are notoriously low maintenance. However, in this section, it makes sense to give mention to the Sedum. The one and only renowned and nicknamed ‘stonecrop’. Its luscious leaves don’t scream drought resistant, but once grown it can surprisingly withstand a wide range of climates. Some Varieties can produce one of the best Summer to Autumn flower displays.
What is the best ground cover to prevent weeds?
Finding the right ground cover for your garden and microclimate will be the best ground cover that prevents weeds. Thymus serpyllum coccineus ‘Red Creeping Thyme’ is a great option for drier conditions and creates a tight-grip map that is very useful and preventative for weeds. Pratia pedunculata is another mat forming ground cover for part shade positions.
What is a good evergreen ground cover?
Myoporum parvifolium provide fresh green foliage for the year that can grow well in most conditions.
Will ground cover plants kill other plants?
Some will, yes. Some ground covers you ought to watch out for and can be difficult to get rid of, but double up as a weed and plant killer. Always do your research before planting a ground cover in your garden.
Can I plant ground covers in pots?
Yes, planting ground covers is recommended for some situations to protect the potting soil from being damaged from the sun and wind. It can also provide extra greenery in your pot for visual pleasure. Most ground covers do very well in pots as they don’t need much soil space to thrive.
What ground cover can you walk on?
Ground covering plants are great options to team with your pathways or turf alternatives. Some great examples of ground cover that you could incorporate are: Soleirolia soleirolii , Pratia pedunculata and dichondra repens we advise that these types can tolerate very light foot traffic.
Can you mow ground cover?
No, we wouldn’t advise it. Groundcover usually take care of themselves and don’t need any pruning or mowing. Mowing can potentially damage or kill your groundcovers. Some groundcover need to be cut back hard in Winter such as Sedum varieties and plectranthus to encourage more bushier habit and to remove dead spent stems.
What is good ground cover for dogs?
There are a variety of ground cover plants that are likely to withstand your dogs’ frolicking. Some of these varieties include: Thymus serpyllum ‘Elfin Creeping Thyme’, Sedum ‘Stonecrop’ and Viola Labradorica ‘Labrador Violet’.
How long does ground cover take to spread?
The time it takes for ground cover to spread is season and condition dependent. Most varieties are notoriously fast-growing but check with your plant specialist on which type suits your garden to maximize impact and growth.
Do I have to remove grass before planting ground cover?
Yes. It eliminates competition for water and nutrients and will ensure optimal growth for your ground cover. Turf is designed to be vigorious and invasive so we can have beautiful lush easy to maintain lawns. Its always a good idea to borde off turf to garden beds so that you aren’t battling with grass runners in your garden beds.
Which ground covers are potentially toxic to dogs and children?
Euphorbia rigida and all other Euphorbia varieties produce a toxic milky white sap if disturbed , Trachelospermum also produces a milky white sap that can cause skin irritation.
Can I plant mint in the ground?
Yes. But we advise that you keep mint in a pot so it doesn’t grow rampant in your garden.
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