Connect with us

Thai Life

Phuket Gardening: Papering Over the Cracks – plants to cover the ground

Legacy Phuket Gazette

Published

 on 

image
image

PHUKET: In my humble opinion, the two best ground cover plants are purple leaved spiderwort (tradescantia spathaceae) and purple heart or purple queen, now known botanically as setcreasea pallida.

Naturally there are many other choices for the tropical gardener. For instance, I use pandanus pygmaeus as an edging plant: grass-like in appearance, it is very tough, grows in clumps and has long narrow leaves bordered with bright yellow. The only problem is that the foliage has saw-like edges – a bit like pampas grass. So it should be handled with care. Another choice might be the similar looking ophiopogon or lillturf, which has prominent white margins. Both prefer sun.

Wedelia trilobata, with shiny, evergreen leaves and small daisy-like yellow flowers, is the most vigorous coverer of space. It has a creeping habit and stems that root as they carpet the ground. Especially good-natured, it occupies the spaces in my garden where the Malaysian grass fears to tread: on waste ground it often crops up unannounced. But it is untidy and that is where my top choices score: they are neatness personified.

Purple heart (setcreasea) is very common and extremely easy to grow – once it is established. This Mexican native is cultivated for its neat, trailing habit and distinctive, deep purple, lance shaped leaves. Slightly hairy, it is their rich hue and matt surface that renders them especially attractive. Growing only a few inches tall, the plant nonetheless produces a dense, colorful display that will completely envelope the immediate surroundings. Given a chance, its exotic foliage will cascade prettily down the sides of a pot.

The succulent stems are very brittle and snap easily. On the other hand, the roots are deceptively tough. So don’t make the mistake, as I did, of introducing cuttings into containers occupied by other shrubs. It will work if the other occupant is hardy, but less sturdy companions will find themselves losing the competition for food, water and space. I am planting purple heart where its beautiful carpet of foliage can be appreciated alone and for its own sake.

The other and in some ways similar tradescanthia or rhoeo spacthaceae is even more ubiquitous in Phuket: it is employed everywhere as a ground cover, on rock gardens, or to border pathways.

Despite its Central American origins, almost every garden center has a supply. Even neater than purple heart, it has short stems and soft but spiky rosettes of lance-shaped leaves that are green below and greenish purple above. It grows no more than a foot tall and forms an orderly and uniform mat or cushion Years ago, I planted a clump in a border some feet from the pool; it soon spilled over the edges of the confining sand-wash and is steadily advancing towards the water.

Unlike purple heart, this fellow has surprisingly shallow roots. In fact you can gently lift a portion from the edge of a cluster and transplant it elsewhere in shallow soil. It will probably survive. In fact it can be propagated from seeds (it has small white flowers),but clump division is the normal method. If you are planting specimens in a border as an edging plant, place them eight or ten inches apart: in favorable conditions, they will soon bridge the gaps.

There is an even more attractive variegated form of tradescantia with striped purple, green and white foliage. As with most variegated plants, it is less hardy than the standard version, and will only perform well in a sunny environment. But I have one happily sharing a container with an adenium. Share and share alike. No sweat…

If you have a question or a garden that you would like featured you can email me at: drpaccampbell@gmail.com. Further information about this gardening series and Patrick’s other work can be accessed at: patrickaccampbell.wordpress.com

— Patrick Campbell

 

Get more from The Thaiger

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS
👋 Have your say on our Thailand forum
🔔 Subscribe to our daily newsletter
📺 Subscribe / Join for daily shows
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🐦 FOLLOW us on Twitter
📷 FOLLOW us on Instagram

image

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Coronavirus (Covid-19)11 hours ago

Wednesday Covid Update: 4,886 new cases; provincial totals

Thailand11 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Substandard masks, PM to decide on Omicron, lingerie worker demands | Dec 1

Southeast Asia11 hours ago

Vietnam to welcome fully vaccinated tourists from Thailand this month

Sponsored20 hours ago

Hungry Hub Bangkok Rooftop Festival 2021

advertiseadvertise
Southeast Asia11 hours ago

Myanmar junta likely to be temporarily barred from the UN, along with Taliban

Coronavirus (Covid-19)12 hours ago

Hospital warns not all PCR tests properly detect Omicron variant

Thailand12 hours ago

Thailand’s exclusion from US Summit for Democracy could impact foreign investment

image
Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Tourism12 hours ago

TAT predicts 500,000 travellers before 2022, 133,000 arrived so far

Thailand13 hours ago

Kanchanaburi park ranger reportedly stabbed co-worker, shot himself

Crime13 hours ago

Former Deputy PM Suthep indicted over construction contracts

Transport14 hours ago

New variant casts shadow over Thailand Motor Expo, concerns outbreak could affect the industry

Thailand15 hours ago

Thai porn industry, Forget about Pattaya nightlife, Hualampong station | Thaiger Bites | Ep.72

Transport16 hours ago

Cabinet sets aside over 5 billion baht to improve Bangkok’s public transportation

Drugs16 hours ago

Men arrested at Bangkok airport for allegedly smuggling drugs valued at 95 million baht

Thailand16 hours ago

Victoria’s Secret Thailand supplier faces labour abuse by laid off workers

Coronavirus World18 hours ago

Health officials say Omicron probably in the Netherlands prior to South Africa reports

Thailand3 months ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism9 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism9 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism9 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand10 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand11 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand11 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand11 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand11 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand11 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand11 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand11 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Trending