Ground Covers You May Not Have Thought Of, Part VIII

Today Richard Lyons’ Nursery today presents the eighth installment of its survey of plants that are sometimes overlooked for their potential as ground covers.

Succulents can be deployed to create striking ground covers in sunny, dry areas of your yard. Here are just a few of the species that can help you improve a desolate space:

Hedgehog Aloe, Aloe humilis x ‘Hedgehog’: This dwarf hybrid, developed in South Africa from four Aloe species, reaches a maximum height of 12-18 in. It appears to be fiercely armed, but the spines are fairly soft and harmless. During the winter, a bloom spike emerges from the gray-green rosette, producing reddish-orange tubular flowers which attract hummingbirds.

Swan’s Neck Agave, Agave attenuata: The common name refers to this species’ graceful, curved stems. This easy-to-maintain succulent grows in a wide range of well-drained soils, forming very graceful rosettes of light green, broad, fleshy, spineless leaves. Pups produced at the base can be left in place to increase density or separated for use elsewhere. A. attenuata is native to the state of Jalisco in Central Mexico.

Dwarf Variegated Agave, Agave desmettiana ‘Variegata’: See “Agaves” (October 14, 2012) on this website.

Mauritius Hemp, Furcraea foetida ‘Mediopicta’: This beautiful Agave relative bears just one sharp spine on each leaf, at the tip. It is an essentially trunkless species featuring swordlike leaves — accented by a cream-colored band running down the middle — that reach 5-6 ft. at maturity. Native to the Caribbean and northern South America, Mauritius Hemp, like its distant cousin, Agave sisalana, produces commercially-valuable fiber. Unlike Agaves, Furcraeas do not produce suckers/offsets at the base.

 

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