Thursday, November 18, 2010

Dymondia margaretae

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I looked back through all my posts for the one on Dymondia margaretae, and like Captain Renault in "Casablanca" I was shocked, shocked:  I couldn't find one!  I can't believe I have not sung the virtues of this wonderful little ground cover plant.

Dainty, wonderful Dymondia margaretae, which never gets too tall, which gets as thick and dense as a pricey plush rug,  which can be walked on (within reason), which spreads fast enough, but doesn't become invasive.   I have nothing bad to say about Dymondia, though it does need summer water here in Sunset zone 23--not a lot, but one irrigation a week makes it beautiful, once a month and it hangs on, no water at all and it's dead.  Too much water and it's dead, too.   It has a helpful habit of rolling the edges of its leaves inward when it gets thirsty, so if you see it looking very white (the undersides of the foliage is white) then you know it's in serious need of water.  I've never given mine any fertilizer.  It doesn't seem  to need it. 

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Dymondia margaretae, superior as a low cover to the thymes, unless you want that wonderful thyme scent.  Its' origin is South Africa, and it prefers milder coastal conditions, so keep that in mind--in Sunset 24 it may need even less water than here, but Barstow may be too hot for it, and is hardy only to about 25-30 F. It tolerates some shade, but too much shade makes it grow sparse, and sparse means weeds. 



It does need careful weeding at first, but when it really thickens up, there won't be any more weeds, or very few, and the weeds stand up over the flat flat Dymondia, making them very easy to spot.  Grow it in smaller areas and around stepping stones.   A lawn--well, you'll have to be careful of weeds and too much traffic. 



Dymondia underplanting a Coleonema:
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I guess one drawback is that this stuff sure is expensive when you buy it in flats--those big square 18"x18" (45 cm) plastic trays that are just a couple of inches (5 cm) thick.  I've started flats of Dymondia myself, and have discovered that this plant and its depth-loving, fat root system hates being in a flat.   In a flat it looks awful, and sulks, and because it looks awful, people see it and decide they don't want it.  But in the ground it's a beauty.  

I often recommend this plant.  People see it in my garden and exclaim over it.  I help people remember the name by saying "Dymondia--like diamonds."  Apt, because the plant is a jewel. 

11 comments:

  1. Someone down the street put some of this in a couple years ago. At first it looked like it does in the flat--stringy and unhappy. But it's turned into a really dense mass. Fortunately it's planted on a raised bed near the sidewalk so that you can observe from closer to eye level to appreciate the silver touches to the green. I agree with you: It's a great little plant.

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  2. Do you know where this can be purchased in Los Angeles. It is not easy to find.

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    1. Did you ever find 'Dymondia Margaretae' (silver carpet)?

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  3. Sushi, It is a little hard to find because in a flat, it looks like crap and people mostly won't buy it. But get it into the ground and it looks wonderful.

    Best thing is to find a garden center with decent customer service and ask them to order some for you.

    Sometimes Armstrong's will have flats of it, not cheap, but you just buy one flat, plant it and get it growing and then start transplanting it around to fill in. Good luck!

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  4. I finally found some at the Home Depot near LAX. My whole lawn is now completely of Silver Carpet and I love it.

    Does anyone know of any possible diseases or molds it might get?

    Thanks.

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    1. The roots will rot if the plants are overwatered, especially in clay soil, and it doesn't like too much shade. Other than that a pretty easy care plant.

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  5. AA6DW, thank you for that information.

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  6. Anyone have generally pricing information for a flat? Is there any way to grow it from seeds?

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    1. It's about twenty dollars a flat. I imagine it does produce seeds, because there are small yellow flowers, but I believe it's grown for sale from rooted pieces of plant. If you plant in fall and take good care of it, it spreads fairly rapidly. Going into summer, its tough to get started because of the heat.

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  7. I to have dymondia. In some areas the plants are very very tiny and not spreading. I live in southern California. Do you have any idea what is going on?

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    1. Hi Sharlene, Is the soil compacted? I have noticed that in areas where mine has not spread, the soil is very hard. I loosened the area with a garden fork and watered deeply, and the bits have started to spread. If the soil is loose and fluffy at least 3 inches down, try watering deeply and then apply a weak balanced liquid fertilizer. Don't apply it full strength as it may be too strong. Try it at half strength, at the very most. Also, if you are inland quite a bit and it is still very hot during the day, hold off for a couple more weeks before trying a fertilizer. I sometimes give mine a little to get it going, but not on a regular basis.

      Another thing, the Dymondia doesn't grow much in hot weather. It is mostly dormant from the middle of June to about the middle of October here. It seems to take the summer off and starts growing again when autumn arrives.

      Hope that helps!

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