Our Plant of the Week – Dichondra is a genus of flowering plants that are part of the morning glory family. Dichondra comes in a wide range of varieties that lend themselves to many uses as landscape plants, potted plants, and accent plants.
Most uses of dichondra are as ornamentals in landscapes and with other potted plants as accents. Many landscapers prefer dichondra to grass in some situations. Dichondra is a perennial and can be substituted for grasses or other ground covers in situations where low light and moist soil create problems for other grounds covers. Dichondra is often seen planted between stepping stones in a garden.
Dichondra prefers loose, raked soil that is well-drained. Seed can be scattered onto damp ground. Seeded areas should be kept moist but not soppy wet. It is best to plant when the temperatures are in the mid 70’s F.
Dichondra spreads rapidly and will root at each leaf node if given the opportunity.
Once established, dichondra requires little additional care. Water when needed. Watering should be done slowly and deeply.
When used as a lawn substitute, dichondra can be mowed. The usual recommendation is to mow at a height of 1.5 inches. Feed your dichondra with compost tea about every two weeks by applying the compost tea as a foliar spray or as a drench. Any other good organic fertilizer can be used as well.
Dichondra argentea – Silverfalls dichondra – native to Mexico and Texas. A creeping vine that will cascade and is best used in baskets and containers. The vine will trail as long as 6 feet in one season. Anywhere above Zone 10, this variety will need to be taken indoors in winter to survive.
Dichondra brachypoda – Wooten and Standi – New Mexico Ponysfoot – A bright green variety with small white flowers. This variety is often used as a ground cover.
Dichondra carolinensis – Carolina Ponysfoot – A Florida native, this variety prefers moist shaded areas and is often found wild in moist hammocks and floodplain forests in Florida and across the southeastern US.
Dichondra donelliana – California Ponysfoot – Not well known in the nursery trade, this variety of dichondra is native to California. There has been some use of this variety as ground cover and as green roofs or walls. This variety was once widely planted in California as a lawn replacement.
Dichondra micrantha – Asian Ponyfoot – This variety of dichondra is probably the most well known and most planted as a groundcover or lawn substitute. It spreads rapidly and does well in full sun or partial shade. It can grow to 6” high but can be mowed. When planted between stepping stones or pavers, it tolerates foot traffic well.
Dichondra sericea – Silverleaf Ponysfoot – A dichondra variety featuring a silver-gray leaf. This variety can be used as a ground cover. Once established it required little care other than occasional watering. It can be mowed if used as a lawn substitute but is most often seen as a ground cover in landscape where is color lends a distinctive and unusual accent. Unfortunately, this variety doesn’t tolerate cold well and is cold hardy only below Zone 9.
In West Texas, the best choice for using dichondra as a ground cover or lawn substitute is Dichondra micrantha. This is the variety that is most easily found in nurseries.
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