By Rusty,

Ground cover plants are taking over landscapes in North Central Florida, and for good reason! These low-maintenance superheroes require minimal maintenance including fertilizer, pesticides, mowing, and trimming. They also need less irrigation which saves money as well as water resources. 

But here's the real kicker: they attract all sorts of cool wildlife, promoting biodiversity and effectively combating soil erosion, especially in rainy areas (hello Florida). And let's not forget the jaw-dropping beauty they bring to the table! With a stunning variety of foliage colors, textures, and flowers, you can transform your landscape into a breathtaking masterpiece.

So, if you're in North Central Florida, it's time to join the ground cover revolution! Just be sure that when you’re selecting plants for ground cover you consider factors such as sunlight requirements, soil conditions, and maintenance needs. We have a helpful guide prepared for you with our favorite ground cover plants!


1. Asiatic Jasmine
We choose Asiatic Jasmine as our go-to ground cover plant. It thrives in areas that receive at least 4 to 6 hours of direct sunlight each day. However, it can also tolerate some shade, making it a versatile option for different lighting conditions.

With its lush growth and glossy green leaves, it adds elegance and beauty to any garden or pathway. Not only is it low-maintenance, requiring little to no mowing or trimming, but it also tolerates various soil conditions and moderate foot traffic, making it a versatile and resilient choice for your landscape.

2. Large & Dwarf Mondo Grass
These plants thrive in areas where sunlight might be a bit limited. With their dark green color and dense, dense foliage, they'll transform your shaded areas into enchanting carpets of green. Not only do they provide excellent coverage, but they also require minimal maintenance once established.

Both Large and Dwarf Mondo Grass are fantastic choices for shade or partial sun ground cover in North Central Florida. These resilient plants can adapt to various soil conditions, making them versatile options for your landscape.

3.Liriope Spicata (spreading liriope, rather than the clumping varieties like Liriope Muscari)
This is the ultimate plant for shade and partial sun ground covering for North Central Florida! This beauty is all about adding some flair to your landscape. Its grass-like leaves and lavender-purple blooms bring a touch of class to any shady spot.

It thrives in those low-light areas, forming dense mats that kick weeds to the curb and provide excellent coverage. Once it's settled in, Liriope doesn't demand much, leaving you more time to chill and enjoy your outdoor paradise.

4. English Ivy
This hardy and evergreen plant is like a natural carpet, spreading effortlessly across the ground and crowding out pesky weeds. This attractive and low-maintenance plant thrives in our climate, even tolerating the occasional frost. English Ivy also helps conserve moisture in the soil, reducing the need for constant watering, which is always a bonus!


1. Perennial Peanut
This plant thrives in North Central Florida’s warm climate and sandy soil, requiring minimal maintenance. With its dense mat and ability to suppress weeds, it keeps your landscape looking tidy without the hassle. Plus, its attractive yellow flowers add a touch of natural beauty to your outdoor space.

2.Wedelia Vine
Wedelia’s golden flowers closely resemble beach sunflowers, but it has emerged as a menace to numerous native plants, extending its reach beyond cultivated areas into natural habitats. As part of the sunflower family, Wedelia forms a dense carpet of vegetation, outcompeting and shading existing plants, thus disrupting their growth. Therefore, it's crucial to avoid planting Wedelia or allowing it to spread outside of cultivated settings.

3. Juniper (smaller varieties like Blue Rug and larger varieties like Parsoni)
Blue Rug juniper grows at a moderate pace, reaching a height of less than a foot but can spread out several feet wide, creating a dense mat of foliage. For optimal growth, it's best to plant blue rug juniper during the cooler seasons of fall or early spring.

4. Sunshine Mimosa
Sunshine mimosa makes an excellent groundcover alternative. It stays low to the ground, spreads easily, and can handle being mowed. This plant is versatile, thriving in both dry and moist environments. While it doesn't climb over other plants or structures, it extends its growth by sprawling continuously and rooting down as it goes.

5. Purple Queen
Purple queen is a great ground cover plant. It's got a trailing look with beautiful purple foliage, and it can handle full sun. Once established, it requires minimal maintenance and quickly fills in the area, providing an attractive carpet-like cover.

Just remember to water it well during the start, and keep an eye on it because it likes to spread. It'll keep your garden looking beautiful, but be mindful not to let it take over the whole neighborhood!

As you can see, ground cover plants are the unsung heroes of Nocatee landscapes. With their low-maintenance nature, they save time, money, and water resources while promoting biodiversity and preventing soil erosion. Not to mention, their stunning beauty can turn any yard into a picturesque masterpiece.

If we can help you with your North Florida Landscape ground covering plants please contact us at (352) 378-5296 or (904) 913-5296 or fill out our form at the top of the page!

2023-august-ground cover-guide-blog.jpg
By Rusty,
Photo of Dwarf Penta

Not many plants can stand the heat and humidity in Florida, but the Dwarf Penta loves it! This sun and heat loving flower that has been bred to bloom all summer. These attractive plants produce red, pink, or white flowers which makes them a great addition to a sunny, hot, flower garden throughout the summer and are a great source of food for hummingbirds and butterflies. This variety of Penta will stay compact and top out around 12 – 15 inches.

When to plant Dwarf Pentas:
Grow pentas in a full sun location after all danger of frost has passed. Pentas love warm temperatures and will stall and not grow well if planted too early. It’s easiest to purchase penta plants from a garden center in spring.

Where to plant Dwarf Pentas:
Grow pentas in full/part sun. Plant transplants in well-drained, compost-amended soil. Pentas don’t like cold, wet feet. Grow pentas 1 to 2 feet apart and grow them in groups for a more dramatic effect.

Watering Dwarf Pentas:
Although they are somewhat drought tolerant, keep young plants well watered. Add a layer of mulch around the established plants to help conserve soil water and prevent weed growth.

Pro Tips:
Since many pentas have bright colored flowers, it’s best to grow groups of them in beds where that can be viewed from a distance such as from a walkway or road. The bright colors will make the bed pop. When viewed up close, the bright colors can be visually overwhelming. Grow pastel colored selections for containers and beds viewed up close

Pentas are fairly easy to grow, but do require regular deadheading to look their best and flower well. Pinch the tops of young plants after planting to encourage branching and more flower formation. Deadhead spent blooms to encourage more blooms to form until fall.

Using Dwarf Penta is an excellent way to add color to your landscape!
Are you looking for more options to brighten up your landscape?
Watch our video: What can I use to add color to my Gainesville Landscape?

Pentas are low maintenance plants. Provided they get plenty of water, sunshine, and heat, they will perform beautifully and reward you with an abundance of blooms.

If you’re looking to add this Gainesville Landscape Plant into your yard, please fill out the form above or contact us at (352) 378-5296.

By Rusty,
Butterfly on Milkweed plant

Milkweed is the poster plant for pollinator-friendly landscape designs. Not only is it attractive, it's an important nectar source for bees and other insects. Milkweed is also well known for attracting butterflies and serving as a host plant for their caterpillars.

Most famously, milkweed serves as the only host plant for the monarch butterfly.

Milkweed generally grows quickly, reaching a final height up to four feet tall, depending on the species. You can plant them closely, about 18-24 inches apart in most North Florida lawns. And whether or not the milkweed is being installed as part of a butterfly garden, plant multiple plants. Too few and you will be left with leafless milkweed and hungry caterpillars! Planting multiple species can also increase the attractiveness to butterflies and other pollinators in your yard.

Avoid Pesticides

As a host plant for a number of pollinators, use of pesticides on milkweed is discouraged. As a result, expect some aesthetic damage throughout the growing season. Install milkweed behind ground covers or mounding plants to hide the stems but show off the blooms. Monarch caterpillars can consume a plant's leaves quickly, but this usually doesn't cause long-term damage. Aphids also pose a problem. Instead of applying pesticides, keep this pest in check with a blast of water from the hose.


It is recommended to prune the milkweed stalks to about 6 inches in height during the fall and winter months to discourage monarchs from establishing winter-breeding colonies. Cutting back the milkweed will also help to eliminate OE spores that may be present on the plant. (OE is a debilitating protozoan parasite that infects monarchs)

Best Growing Conditions:

Most milkweed prefers full sun. They tolerate a wide variety of soil conditions, from clay to sand. Many species used in Gainesville landscaping prefer dry, sandy soil and are moderately drought tolerant.

Water Needs:

With the exception of droughts, you can skip watering. During droughts, keep the flowers blooming with weekly watering. Avoid overhead watering.


Milkweed blooms in summer and early fall, providing a nectar source after the spring blooming flowers are done. In winter it will disappear but will grow back in late spring.

If you’re looking to add this Gainesville Landscape Plant into your yard, please fill out the form above or contact us at (352) 378-5296.

By Rusty,

The Dogwood Tree is a majestic ornamental tree that fills the landscape with its clusters of flowers and draws attention as a specimen tree and has the extra benefit of attracting butterflies, beneficial insects, and birds.

The Flowering dogwood is a popular tree native to North Florida. This beautiful spreading tree grows up to 35 feet tall.

The dogwood is an understory tree (meaning it is small enough and sufficiently shade tolerant to thrive under the canopies of other, taller trees), so it does best in part or filtered sun.

Flowering dogwood prefers growing on rich, well-draining soils that are moist, so regular watering benefits the tree's growth and flowering. They’re not drought tolerant and should get plenty of water.

The dogwood tree blooms for a few weeks in the spring, with four-petaled white flowers with yellow centers. Its leaves turn a spectacular red and purple in fall before dropping. The tree has bright crimson berries that birds just love.

The dogwood can be trained to grow with a single trunk or as a picturesque multi-trunked tree. If necessary, prune yours after it flowers, but before next year’s flower buds form in July.

Be sure to plant these trees where they receive good air circulation to cut down on diseases. Although new cultivars with better disease resistance are being created annually, we typically do not include them in our landscape designs due to their propensity to disease in the humidity of summer.  'Appalachian Spring' is one of these cultivars with improved disease resistance.

Fun Fact: The dogwood is the state tree of Virginia, Missouri, and North Carolina, and is also Virginia’s state flower! What a popular tree!

If you’re looking to add this Gainesville Landscape Plant into your yard, please fill out the form above or contact us at (352) 378-5296.

By Rusty,

The Gerbing is a larger, more full-sized Azalea variety with large, pure white blooms that average about 3" in diameter. Blooms are very numerous in spring, with an occasional re-bloom period in early to mid-fall. Gerbing is an evergreen Azalea variety that generally is one of the few Azalea cultivars that are capable of thriving in planting areas with higher light exposure.

Foliage is a slightly lighter medium green color, with leaves being quite large and slightly elongated. This Azalea variety makes a very good foundation planting with medium size, and also does very well when mass planted or used as a hedge. Has a slightly more upright growth habit than most of the other Azalea varieties.

Like all Azaleas, Gerbing prefers semi-shade, and will even do well in planting locations with mostly shade, but is rare in that it is one of the few varieties that will also handle higher amounts of sun exposure.

These Azaleas have shallow, non-aggressive root systems that make them a great foundation planting choice and can even be planted closely together for use as a colorful hedge.

This fairly shallow root system, however, also requires that Azaleas be given regular waterings - be sure that your Azaleas receive water equivalent to about 1" of rainfall each & every week throughout the growing season.

Azaleas need to be pruned in order to maintain the full bushy shrub or they may get "leggy".  The best time to prune an Azalea is right after it finishes flowering in the spring. Light pruning during the growing season is tolerated, but Azaleas should never be pruned after August, as this will prevent the shrub from flowering the following spring. 

If you’re looking to add this Gainesville Landscape Plant into your yard, please fill out the form above or contact us at (352) 378-5296.

By Rusty,

The dusty miller plant is an interesting landscape addition, grown for its silvery gray foliage and standing up to both the cold evenings and hot days of North Florida's winter. Lacy leaves of the dusty miller plant are attractive companions for many blooms in the winter landscape. Dusty miller care is minimal once the plant is established in your Gainesville landscape.

Water Needs:
The soil must be well-draining to avoid root rot. Water regularly right after planting and withhold water once roots have developed and the plant is growing.

Sun Needs:
Being of Mediterranean origin, dusty miller is fairly drought tolerant and does best in some sun but is best planted where afternoon shade is available.Typically used in our beds as winter annuals, they look great from October through February in our North Central Florida lawns. Although it performs best in moist, well-drained, moderately rich soils, it is tolerant of poor soils.

Planting Needs:
Dusty Miller will grow to be about 12 inches tall, with a spread of 12 inches. When grown in masses or used as a bedding plant, individual plants should be spaced approximately 8 inches apart.

Although the dusty miller flower blooms in some climates, the small yellow blooms are small and not considered showy - and typically are not seen on our winter seasonal plantings. The foliage of the dusty miller plant, however, is long lasting and as with most silvery, furry plants, growing dusty miller helps the garden remain attractive through the winter. It tolerates frost and heat, making it perfect for Florida winters.

Dusty miller care may need a trim if the plant becomes leggy. This plant can grow as tall as 1 foot but often remains shorter. It goes great with snapdragons, pansies, violas, and petunias.

If you’re looking to add this Gainesville Landscape Plant into your yard, please fill out the form above or contact us at (352) 378-5296.

By Rusty,

Winter violas look dainty and delicate but they are tough enough to survive hard frosts and can flower all through winter. The small flowers of winter violas come in many color combinations and patterns and should produce more flowers than the larger-flowered winter pansies.

How cold hardy are violas?
Violas are very cold-tolerant plants. Grown outdoors and acclimated, they will easily handle temperatures down to the mid 20s and will continue blooming. If the temperature drops any lower, the existing flower buds are usually damaged, but the plants live on.

Best planting practices for violas in Florida?
Because they're compact plants, violas are ideal for borders, containers, and window boxes.  Plant yours in a well-drained, rich soil where they'll receive plenty of sun, and irrigate them only as needed.

Are viola flowers annuals or perennials?
Violas are perennial, but in North Florida lawns, they die out in the heat of summer. In Gainesville, we use them for our client's seasonal color beds as annuals and replace them every year. They provide some amazing and eye-catching color for commercial landscaping at entryways and under signs. For residential lawns, we use them around mailboxes or in planters with Pansies and Petunias.

If you’re looking to add this Gainesville Landscape Plant into your yard, please fill out the form above or contact us at (352) 378-5296.

By Rusty,

Discovered in 1927 growing near East Palatka, Florida, this Holly is one of a group of hybrids between Dahoon and  American Holly. The broad, dull green, rounded leaves have one spine at the tip and few, if any, along the blade edge. The 30 to 45- foot-tall trees take on a moderately tight, pyramid shape.

East Palatka is one of the most common tree form hollies and one of the best. This female Holly plant is heavily covered with bright red berries in fall and winter, especially toward the top of the tree. A row of East Palatka Hollies will look quite uniform, adding to the popularity of the tree among landscape architects and designers.

It is faster growing than most American hollies and it has a more refined appearance in the landscape with its softer green foliage and non-spiny leaves. Like most hollies, it will grow in full sun or partial shade but does best in good, rich soil. Hollies are not very drought tolerant so should be watered during extended droughts. In the landscape, they are ideally suited for use as a single specimen, as a screen planting or even can be clipped for a large hedge.

A popular tree for smaller landscapes and street borders. It usually can be planted within 5 to 10 feet of homes and near patios. Let them grow naturally or prune to shape, this Palatka Holly tree looks beautiful either way!

If you’re looking to add this Gainesville Landscape Plant into your yard, please fill out the form above or contact us at (352) 378-5296.

By Rusty,

As a focal point, the cassia is a multipurpose tree that brightens the North Florida landscape with its bright yellow flowers.

While the tree is in bloom, it is easily the brightest plant in most any landscape. The Golden Cassia tree with all its glowing flowers definitely sends a signal to all bees and butterflies in the area to come join the party.

Due to our colder winters (compared to south Florida), the tree will drop its leaves after a hard frost - but can be pruned and come back stronger in spring. The medium-sized tree usually grows to decent heights but can be managed with winter pruning. It’s not really a large-sized tree and doesn’t require special arrangements regarding the location and space in your garden. You can practically plant it in a side yard or a tiny backyard.

Landscape Design Ideas using cassia trees:

  • This tree is most ornamental around a patio or around the pool
  • Centerpiece for a circular driveway
  • Use as an anchor plant for garden beds
  • Accent a corner of your  house
  • Use the  tree as a focal point near the entryway
  • Accent architecture such as pillars
  • Use along a fence or property line
  • Plant it at the entrance to a walkway or driveway
  • Adding interest along a blank wall/fence

Cassia trees are normally pruned in late winter or early spring. Early pruning gives the shrub plenty of time to form the buds that will bloom in late summer. Do the first structural pruning the first spring after planting.

Before pruning your cassia in the spring, check out this video:
Quick Tip on Spring Pruning for Golden Cassia Trees

If you’re looking to add this Gainesville Landscape Plant into your yard, please fill out the form above or contact us at (352) 378-5296.

By Rusty,

Black Diamonds are a revolutionary new series of crape myrtles that provide unique beauty to your landscape and instant yard envy for your neighbors. Flawless black foliage emerges in early spring followed by masses of brilliant jewel-toned blooms that last until the first frost.

How Fast do Black Diamond Crape Myrtles Grow?

A Black Diamond Crape Myrtle tree can grow 2 to 4 feet in a single year. Once they get to mature height the trunks and branches grow thicker, but the trees stay around 12 feet tall.

How to care for Black Diamond Crape Myrtles

Crepe myrtles need full sun to perform well. They will grow in shade, but blooms will be sparse, and plants will get leggy. For best growth and production, crape myrtle should receive at least one inch of water a week. During dry spells, water is mandatory. If not properly watered during dry spells, flowers may be mitigated. Keep at least 4 feet around the shrub clear of grass and weeds, for less competition for water.
Once your tree reaches maturity, it will be naturally drought-resistant.

When do Black Diamond Crape Myrtles Bloom?

Black Diamond Crape Myrtle trees have a very long bloom period. They flower from summer to fall, generally from July through October.

When should you prune Crape Myrtles?

Crepe myrtles need minimal pruning. Some gardeners top them annually, but this ruins their natural shape and beauty. Remove the sucker growth that sometimes appears around the base. Only prune to shape trees or to take out any cross branching. In the winter, you can remove old seed pods by clipping the tips of branches.

We have a video to help you perfectly prune your crape myrtle!
3 Tips for Pruning Crape Myrtles in Gainesville, Florida

If you’re looking to add this Gainesville Landscape Plant into your yard, please fill out the form above or contact us at (352) 378-5296.