By Susan Patterson, Master Gardener
In some places dichondra, a low growing plant and member of the morning glory family, is seen as a weed. In other places, however, it is valued as an attractive ground cover or even a substitute for a small lawn area. Let’s find out more about how to grow dichondra ground cover.
Dichondra Plant Info
Dichondra (Dichondra repens) is a perennial ground cover plant (in zones 7-11) that has a somewhat upright, creeping habit with circular leaves. It is not usually over 2 inches in height and retains its bright green color in temperatures as low as 25 degrees F. When this ground cover becomes full, it appears as a dense carpet-like grass and is often planted in places where other turf-type grass does not grow well.
Silver dichondra is a green-silver annual ground cover that is often used in hanging baskets and pots. The cascading habit also makes this attractive plant perfect for rock walls or window boxes. This low maintenance plant with fan-shaped foliage, does well in full sun, requires only minimal care and is drought resistant.
How to Grow Dichondra
Proper preparation of the seedbed is essential to growing dichondra plants. A weed-free raked area is best. Dichondra prefers loose, clod-free and well-drained soil in partial shade to full sun.
Seed should be lightly scattered over the loosened soil bed and watered until wet but not soggy. Depending on how sunny the planting area is, seeds may need to be watered a few times a day until they begin to sprout. Covering the seeds with a light layer of peat moss helps with moisture retention.
It is best to plant seed when the temperatures are in the 70’s during the day and the 50’s at night. This can be in either early spring or even early fall.
The growing dichondra seeds will sprout within 7 to 14 days depending on conditions.
Once plants are established, a deep and infrequent watering is necessary. It is best to allow the plants to dry out slightly between watering.
If using as a lawn alternative, the dichondra can be mowed to a suitable height. Most people find that mowing to around 1 ½ inches in the summer is best and requires cutting every two weeks.
Provide ½ – 1 lb. of nitrogen per month during the growing season for a healthy cover.
Apply a pre-emergent weed control on the ground cover to keep weeds at bay. Never use an herbicide containing 2-4D on dichondra plants, as they will die. Remove broadleaf weeds by hand for best results.