Part of the morning glory family, Dichondra are prostate, perennial and herbaceous plants usually used as a ground cover or as a substitute for lawn, given their low-growing and spreading characteristics.
Dichondra commonly referred to as Ponysfoot provides a fuller aesthetic to any type of garden. However, gardeners can also plant dichondra in containers if they wish so, along with flowering plants such as hydrangea, rose, begonia, or geranium and succulent plants like hens and chicks.
A mention which any novice gardener would like to hear is that it is fairly easy to grow and take care of dichondra. These plants do best when planted in well-drained and neutral soil, either late spring or early fall.
As long as you ensure the soil is well-drained while avoiding it drying out and you plant dichondra in a place where it can receive sunlight, maintenance practices are rather unchallenging.
Whether as a ground cover or lawn or planted in a container, there is no doubt dichondra’s vigorous feature is an attractive addition to your garden. Indeed, dichondra is thought of as a simple weed in some locations. But you cannot deny that this low-growing plant has a distinct appeal and can complement a garden’s aesthetic when planted as a ground cover in between various plants and flowers.
Keep reading to find out more dichondra facts and care instructions!
- The Dichondra plant family has more than one species, and there are numerous varieties of this plant. Some of the most recognized include Dichondra argentea or Silver Falls, Dichondra repens or Lawn Leaf, and Dichondra carolinensis or Carolina ponyfoot. Some of the differences among these include the foliage colour, and each species’ uses.
- No matter what variety of dichondra you go for, the plant’s attributes are similar. Dichondra is an excellent lawn substitute, ground cover, or spiller down a wall. Alternatively, you can also plant it in an outdoor container, giving your garden an abundant aesthetic either way.
- It is low maintenance and drought-tolerant perennial plant, which means that it can easily be paired with ornamental peppers, salvia, or other flowering plants like hydrangea or begonia.
- It is a fast-spreading plant, so it can quickly form dense portions on the ground or spread upwards on buildings. Given this, it is crucial you pay attention to where you plant it. In areas with no foot traffic, it is an excellent no-mow lawn alternative that can prevent unwanted weeds from growing in your garden.
- Dichondra is a plant of the Convolvulaceae or morning glory family, native to New Zealand and numerous parts of Australia.
- Due to low temperatures, dichondra plants don’t do well in the northern USA or in areas where there are rarely mild-warm temperatures. Any area where there are temperatures lower than 70 degrees Fahrenheit (or 20 degrees Celsius) during the day and throughout most of the year is not an area suitable for growing dichondra.
- Dichondra seldom exceeds the two-inch height. It is more of a plant that spreads across your ground or lawn. If you don’t want the plant to spread aimlessly, you can control it by trimming back the stems.
Dichondra Features: An Overview
- Based on the species of dichondra, the foliage is either vibrant green or silvery blue. For example, the dichondra repens has foliage of bright green colour and is also generally known as Kidney Weed due to its kidney-shaped leaves. On the other hand, dichondra argentea has silver-blue or silver-white foliage with the leaves in a fan-like shape.
- Dichondra is a prostate and herbaceous plant that is deer-resistant. It can be toxic when ingested by both people and animals, and it can also cause dermatitis. Hence, under no circumstance should you try to eat dichondra.
- Dichondra is most commonly used as a ground cover or lawn substitute, given its fast-spreading and abundant foliage. However, during summer, the plant also blooms in small flowers of different colours, such as white, green, or yellow.
- Usually, you don’t have to worry about dealing with pests or disease problems if you grow dichondra. Nevertheless, it is crucial to know that flea beetles and cutworms represent the possible dangers for dichondra, as they have a tendency to feed on this plant. While you can use an insecticide to treat it, healthy plants that are effectively planted and watered have what it takes to overcome such problems without the need for an insecticide.
You can grow the dichondra plant either as a ground cover or in a pot or container, which allows it to spread. Given that it is a dense and attractive plant of a vibrant green or silver-blue, it will enhance your garden’s look if grown as a lawn substitute or ground cover. If you choose to grow dichondra in a pot, you might want to place it at a higher level, which will give the plant the opportunity to develop its natural flowing feature.
In order to grow dichondra, one of the aspects you need to consider is the plant’s light needs. It requires full to partial sun exposure, with partial shade also being accepted. The dichondra plant does best when it receives a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight. While partial shade doesn’t harm the plant, its foliage won’t be as abundant if the dichondra isn’t grown with enough sun exposure. Dichondra’s best feature is its dense foliage, so it is safe to say that every gardener wants to ensure it will grow this way.
There is no urgent need for supplemental fertilizer when growing dichondra. The plant’s attributes allow it to grow efficiently in low-nutrient soils. Nevertheless, depending on the soil type used, and if the dichondra needs growth enhancements, you can add compost to support it.
If you have decided to plant dichondra and enhance your garden’s aesthetic with this low-growing and fast-spreading plant, it is essential you learn about its needs, such as the type of soil, temperature, and light.
First things first. The recommended soil pH for dichondra is neutral, between 6.5 and 7.5. As for the soil type, you need one that can ensure excellent drainage, such as sandy loam or any deep, clod-free, loose, and well-drained soil. For instance, clay soil is a type of soil that doesn’t have good drainage properties and can stay wet for more than dichondra needs. For this reason, it is best to avoid using it, especially if you are a novice gardener.
- Dichondra repens is one of the easiest ground cover plants to establish from seed. It is grown as a perennial in USDA Zones 7 – 11 and has a prostrate or creeping growth habit with circular leaves. It grows very close to the ground, (usually not over 2 inches tall) and is a warm season fast growing ground cover. It is adapted to warmer climates, but will retain its striking green color during winter temperatures as low as 20 - 25 degrees Farenheit with only slight leaf browning.
- It only reaches 2 - 3 inches in maximum height and never needs mowed making it a perfect lawn alternative. Dichondra has broad, almost circular leaves (looks similar to clover) and when mowed low establishes a thick dense carpet look. Dichondra is now used in many ground cover situations where normal grasses may not do as well. It has a bright green color and a very good feel underfoot.
- Beautiful in landscaping areas of no maintenance where adapted, and does not need to be mowed. When used in lawn situations it can be mowed for an even, smooth finish. Dichondra Repens is commonly called Kidney Weed, Dichondra Pony Foot, or Lawn Leaf. It grows so easily from ground cover seeds that it can be used as a lawn alternative to create a Dichondra Repens lawn.
- Many people use dichondra as a lawn alternative; therefore, you can mow your dichondra to the height you want to maintain it at. For the nicest appearance if dichondra, mow approximately every two weeks at a height of 1 1/2" - 2" during the summer months and you can mow as low as 3/4" during the winter months.
- Plant 1 pound of seed per 500 square feet. These seeds are heirloom and non gmo.
- Dichondra is known as lawn leaf or pony foot; it spreads by under ground runners or stolons. The small kidney shaped leaves, about a half inch across, have a tendency to grow somewhat larger, with longer stems, in shade.
- Application or Use: Lawn, Groundcover, Erosion Control
- When to Plant: Recommended planting time is spring and summer when night time temperatures are consistently 65+ degrees and 3 months prior to first frost.
- Perennial ground cover plant which is often used as an alternative to lawns
- Grows very close to the ground - no more than 2 inches high
- When mowed on low setting it will establish a thick, dense carpet look
- Excellent in rock gardens and as a contained border plant
- Highly resistant to disease and grows in full sun to partial shade
Dichondra is a drought-tolerant and frost-intolerant plant. Hence, you should only plant it when the temperatures are warm, and there is no risk of frost. Plus, it is essential to allocate a place for the dichondra to receive enough sunlight. This way, you ensure its foliage will be dense and abundant, which is what every gardener wants.
Planting the dichondra seeds should be done at around 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius) during the day and not less than 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) during the night. As mentioned above, this is during spring or early fall. The seeds of dichondra shouldn’t be planted too close to each other, so it is best to scatter them over. To reiterate, you should water the dichondra more regularly during these early stages but avoid at all times getting the soil soaked.
An essential aspect of watering dichondra is that overwatering can truly damage the plant. If the soil in which you plant dichondra gets too soggy, this can be extremely harmful to the root as well as make the plant more predisposed to diseases. Because dichondra is drought tolerant, underwatering doesn’t cause the plant as much damage as when it is waterlogged.
If you are unsure when it is recommended to water your dichondra plant, there is a simple method you can use to check whether the plant needs more water or not. You can examine the soil’s dryness with your finger. If the top inch of the soil is dry, that is the sign you need to water the dichondra. Before the plant is properly established, you can water it more regularly during the growth period of the plant’s roots. However, a noteworthy mention would be to never water it abundantly.
Good news for gardeners who wish to plant dichondra for the first time – it is relatively easy to propagate this plant with stem cuttings. This being said, it is of the utmost importance you are careful when you dig out the stems, given that they are incredibly delicate and can break quite easily.
Once you have dug them out with their roots attached, you can replant them in potting soil. Similar to when planting dichondra for the first time, it is a requirement to maintain the soil moist without letting it get soggy. When the plant grows to more established levels, it is safe to transplant it in an area of your choice or an outdoor container.
If you have dichondra repens, propagating it can be a challenge. You can take the dichondra repens flowers and dry them thoroughly by placing them in a dark location, such as a cupboard. Once this is done, you simply collect the seeds from the plant’s dried-out flowers and plant them. Because it can take some time to propagate dichondra repens like this, you might want to opt for the more accessible alternative, which is to grow the plant fresh.
Part of the morning glory family, dichondra is a low-growing, fast-spreading herbaceous plant used as either a ground cover or lawn substitute in gardens. However, this doesn’t mean the plant cannot grow beautifully in containers or hanging pots.
In fact, because dichondra has a natural flowing habit, it looks lovely when planted in a container or pot that allows it to spill its trailing foliage over the edges. With dichondra leaves ranging from green to silver, there is no doubt that the plant is an excellent addition to any type of garden.
If you are already growing Dichondra, let us know in the comment section how your experience has been so far!