Xeric World Forums  

Go Back   Xeric World Forums > Articles > Plant Profiles

Plant Profiles Write and Publish your own Plant Profile. (Genus, Species, Sub Species, Variety)

Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 10-24-2008, 02:35 PM
Allen Repashy's Avatar
Allen Repashy Allen Repashy is offline
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Bonsall
Posts: 1,114
Allen Repashy has disabled reputation
Default Dymondia margaretae

Dymondia margaretae

Dymondia margaretae
is commonly known as "Silver Carpet" because its leaf color is a blue gray on top, and a silvery sheen on the underside. It is sometimes called Mini Gazania because at a glance, the color is similar, though it's growth is totally compact in comparison. It grows very tight to the ground (1'-1.5")and can be used in low traffic areas as a lawn substitute. It is also great as a filler between flagstone, boulders, and pavers. It makes a great accent to the rock garden. It does produce tiny yellow daisy-like flowers in the summer, but it is not a bee magnet like so many of the Ice plants such as the "Red Apple" Aptenia cordifolia" that dominates this position in the Mediterranean landscape of Southern California.

As a Groundcover, Dymondia has so many advantages over the currently popular species, that it is sure to take off in popularity and become a rival for the top position in a Mediterranean Landscape over the next decade. Once established, it becomes a barrier for all but the most stubborn weeds, yet it makes a great host to many bulbs such as the Amaryllids and Hyacinths. Unlike Ice plant, when planted on slopes, it can be walked on without putting you on your butt. The leafs actually have a grip when walked on that aid in traction compared to the slippery juice that pops out of your typical Ice plant type Groundcover,which turns your slope into a "slip and slide"

Dymondia has deep roots. Most Ice plants have meager root systems and spread over the ground without digging in. "Red Apple" for example can be picked up to reveal "strings" that are ten feet or more without a root in the ground. This allows them to grow and cover rocks, fence, roads, there isn't much they won't creep over and cover given enough time and water. Dymondia on the other hand has an extensive root system. It will dive its roots up to two feed into the ground. Dymondia stores its reserves in the ground, not in its leaves. it produces fat carrot like taproots that store moisture and nutrients. These deep roots were developed to anchor the plant in the sifting coastal dunes of South Africa, and because of this characteristic, it is very effective and creating ground stability and preventing erosion. It will not climb or crawl more than a few inches past a point where it can sink its roots, so you won't have to battle it to keep things under control. It a slow to medium speed grower and will take a lot longer to establish than some other Ground covers, but once established, this means lower maintenance. It well is worth the wait.

It grows well in most soil conditions. It thrives in low nutrient loamy soil, but also loves a high organic compost. It can even grow with it's tap roots partially submerged, and is becoming a popular terrarium/paludarium plant, as well as a Bonsai under story. It is difficult to find a place this stuff won't grow. As long as the soil has good drainage and aeration, it should thrive. Clay can be a problem and should be amended to provide drainage. It prefers full sun or partial shade, but it will still grow in full shade (though less compact and a little taller than in full sun) Once established, it is very drought tolerant and can survive year round without supplemental water in all coastal climates. Supplemental irrigation in the summer months in coastal conditions will be welcomed and make it the most attractive. Supplementation in more Arid climates will be necessary during the hot summer months. Dymondia will tell you when it needs water. Under drought conditions, the leafs begin to curl, showing the silver underside, which visibly changes the overall color of the "carpet" Dymondia looks it's best in full sun with regular water in the hot summer months, but it can survive serious drought and will recover when moisture finally comes.

My decision to grow Dymondia came after my extensive search to find it in anything other than small and expensive quantities. Currently it is not well known, and grown by only a few specialty growers. After struggling to find it in quantity, I decided to propagate my purchase rather than put it all in the ground as intended. I originally purchased my Dymondia in flats that were poorly grown out. Looking down at them, there was more dirt visible than Dymondia. I grew on the flats and intended to divide and grow more flats. I had a discussion on the species with plant Guru Randy Baldwin of San Marcos Growers (one of the few people offering the plant) and he suggested I try growing it in gallons rather than flats. This was really a great tip, as I soon realized.

I planted some small divisions into one gallon's, and planted others in flats. After a few weeks, I noticed that the one gallon plants, were not spreading as quickly as the ones in flats, but they were showing significantly less watering requirements. I was actually disappointed in the performance of the Dymondia in the flats as it required quite a bit of water to keep it from showing signs of stress.... After a month, I saw good growth in the flats compared to the gallons, but the water requirements were every day compared to once or twice a week. Further inspection revealed that though the Dymondia in the gallons hadn't spread on the surface, the roots were growing out the bottom of the pots.... Once the one gallon pots filled with roots, the foliage growth turned on and started to grow on par with the flats, while still requiring much less water.

The flats were originally on a weed barrier, so I moved some of them directly onto soil, and the roots quickly grew through the bottom of the flats. Once they grew into the soil, the water requirements quickly diminished until this group of flats eventually required even less than the one gallon planted specimens. This shows just how much this plant needs roots to establish its self, and why one gallon's represent a much better product than flats.

Growing the flats into the soil is a great way to quickly get a nice flat, but once you have to pull it up, the removal of all the root material puts you right back in the same situation as the flats grown on a weed barrier. To plant these out is going to require re establishment of the root system and a lot more water until this is accomplished.

I compared planting out flats to gallons in the ground and the results were dramatic. Taking a one gallon pot that has foliage growing over the edge all around, I divided the gallons into five or six sections, keeping the six to seven inch roots intact. I also planted out complete one gallon pots for comparison, along with well grown flats (air pruned roots as you would buy in a nursery)

The whole one gallon plants required little water. I planted them in March, and it took four weeks for the plant to show any signs of hydration stress. The gallon size divisions planted at the same time showed stress after 10 days, and the divisions from the flats, showed stress after only three days.This was done in the Spring when there was still good moisture in the soil from the winter rains. Gallons planted in Summer would quickly show stress without water. Further study showed that the flat divisions required water every day or other day for nearly a month before it got to the same point as the divisions from the gallon pots, and it took more than two months to show the same performance of the complete one gallons on the day they were planted.

To sum it up, planting Dymondia out of flats requires much more water to establish. Planting it out of gallons provides a one to three month growth start advantage, and a significant reduction in watering. requirements Further growing out studies show that over a six month period, that three one gallon pots divided into five or six pieces significantly outperforms a flat for grown in coverage and watering requirements. Ongoing studies show that planting the whole gallon pots might be the best way to go because they establish and spread much more quickly than divided pots do.

I have been getting a lot of emails about coverage:

It really depends on how quickly you want coverage.Soil, Temperature, Water, Direct Sun.... all have significant impacts on growth. Dymondia is slow compared to red apple and other ice plant type ground covers. You also need to water it moderately to get good initial spread and root penetration. It is by nature, a winter grower, so right before we get our rains really seems to be the perfect time to plant. (early November in Southern California) If you are planning on dropping the one gallons in whole, want full coverage in less than a year, and plan on providing moderate watering in. (I really think this is the best way to go). I would recommend spacing the gallons about 18" on center to expect full coverage in a year....so about 30 gallons for every 100 square feet. Every situation is different because of soil, temperature, and water.... I have seen it cover that space in six months in some situations, and not do it in a year in others.

Planting tips for gallons:

I have been playing around with planting complete gallons vs. breaking them up, and there are a few important considerations. the type of soil you have between your pots can have a large impact on growth. Make sure that if it is hard pack, that the whole area to be planted is tilled either by machine, or by hand. If the shoots have difficulty planting new roots, then spread will be slower when compared to a more receptive substrate. One thing that really seems to help establishment in difficult soil when planting one gallons is to dig your hole with a post hole digger... as if you were putting a fence post.... make an 18"-24" hole, and pack it with a good potting soil or mulch.then before you drop in the gallon, fill the hole a few times and let the water soak in... Once this is done, drop your gallon on top, and your plug will have a much easier time sending down those deep roots that are necessary for good drought tolerance. This can be a lot of work, but in poor draining soil, might be well worth the work.

Dymondia is also one of the best choices of all to plant as a filler between flagstone and other stone on pathways because it will not spread over the rocks and grows tightly in the crack, which looks great and inhibits weed growth.

All in all, Dymondia makes an awesome alternative ground cover. It by no means is just a "plant and run" candidate. It is more expensive, requires more initial care, and grows slower than other options.But in the long run, will reward you with a very hardy, unique, and user friendly groundcover that will be the envy of your neighborhood.

Discuss Dymondia in the Groundcover Forum
View and Add Photo's to the Dymondia Group Photo Gallery

Reply With Quote
Old 10-25-2011, 01:24 PM
callpaulyes callpaulyes is offline
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Fullerton
Posts: 1
callpaulyes is on a distinguished road
Default Dymondia margaretae

My gardener applied a weed killer to get rid of weeds in my dymondia which had been planted two months prior. Dymondia died. I want to replace, but am concerned with the soil contamination. How deep should I remove the soil? Is there a chemical that can negate the weed killer. I do not know the name of the weed killer.
Reply With Quote
Old 01-30-2012, 01:25 AM
Steve Mudge's Avatar
Steve Mudge Steve Mudge is offline
Ready to Mulch
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Long Beach
Posts: 697
Steve Mudge is on a distinguished road

Dymondia is wonderful---design wise I like to mix it in with other things rather than as a straight groundcover---its so perfectly flat its boring! That's actually a complement to its form though---very tidy and beautiful plant. I started using it around 25 years ago---I think Native Sons in Nipomo first came out with it en masse.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	tamura cactii.jpg
Views:	508
Size:	127.5 KB
ID:	4157  

Reply With Quote
Old 05-15-2015, 12:59 AM
socaliente socaliente is offline
Join Date: May 2015
Location: south bay
Posts: 16
socaliente is on a distinguished road

nice read.

in the past couple months, i had bought one flat from homedepot and another flat from lowes, each around $17 plus tax.

i had been scouting around for flats that looked 'full' but settled for scanty ones since it seemed thats all homedepot/lowes would be stocking.

well within a week, most of the plants from both flats i planted in my front yard dried up and died. i managed to save a few individual specimens and had to water ever day to avoid them drying up. ones that dried up never rehydrated and the roots seem dessicated as well thus i concluded death.

luckily its been raining lots these days, for the survivors. all in all, i'm surprised how sensitive these little plants are to transplant shock. they don't seem 'succulent' at all to me and if anything, the thick mini taproot had me equally fooled into thinking they're easy transplants.

i can see them being drought tolerant once established but it was a lesson learned not to expect them to be like succulents you can just transplant and forget about for days. looking back, its practically like they needed to be treated like regular 'sod' and the flats they were sold in would have better off been 'plugs'.
Reply With Quote
Old 05-18-2015, 12:18 PM
Steve Mudge's Avatar
Steve Mudge Steve Mudge is offline
Ready to Mulch
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Long Beach
Posts: 697
Steve Mudge is on a distinguished road

I think you will find in the original post it says that they need water to get established---these are not succulents, they are a daisy family herb that eventually develops deep taproots so they can withstand drought. Most xeric plantings need a good amount of water to get established in the first season-- an irony as the popular rebate programs in SoCal for removing lawns and replacing with drought tolerant plants is probably increasing the amount of water in this, the worst drought year of all. El Nino is looming though so there's hope...
Reply With Quote

article, test

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 10:41 AM.

Powered by Very Little Water Version 3.7.4
All content and images are copyright Xeric World Forums