In the first and second parts of my article ‘Ground cover plants for Southern California landscapes’, you’ll find some handy profiles for selecting plants that are as beautiful as useful. This is part three and I’m adding more suggestions for some of the best ground cover plants for Southern California.

landscaped succulent blanket

Succulents can form a colorful, textural carpet. But they are not good for foot traffic.

Some succulents can form a low-growing carpet that will work as a colorful ground cover. All succulents retain water so these plants will not be good for foot traffic. Sedums offer a wide selection of cover plants. Some are even resistant to frost. Most have decorative leaves and showy flowers.

There are several sprawling shrubs that can also be used as ground covers. Some of the Cottoneasters, Firethorns (Pyracanthas),  low Acacias like A. ‘Low Boy’and the newly developed Butterfly Bushes that grow with a lower, spreading growth habit are good drought-tolerant choices. Other ideas are using native ground cover plants like dwarf coyote brush, sages like S. Terra Secca or S. Bees Bliss and low-growing Manzanitas (Arctostaphylos).

Mexican primrose

Cheerful pink Mexican Primrose flowers

The pink Mexican Primrose (Onoethera) is another fast spreading plant with showy flowers. It can cover large areas fast. This plant takes full, hot sun or even a little shade. It goes dormant in winter.It also can be very invasive and spread into areas where it is not wanted.

dwarf plumbago or leadwort

The true-blue flowers of the Dwarf Plumbago (or Leadwort)

Another plant that goes dormant in winter is the Dwarf Plumbago (Ceratostigma). Ceratostigma grows to about 10” in height with deep green leaves and shockingly blue flowers that echo the shape of real Plumbago blooms. This plant can be grown by itself in the garden or used as a larger ground cover. It spreads by runners and puts on a wonderful show from early spring ‘til autumn when the leaves turn a glowing autumnal red. Then it virtually vanishes for the winter, returning to do its cycle all over again in the springtime.

As you can see there are plenty of choices to fill garden space in Southern California. Yet there are still many more. But these should give you a good start. Check out which colors and growth habits will best suit your own garden. Then select your favorite plants to fill space in your landscape.