Zone 8/9 Seaside Groundcovers
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Theresa Waters
Posted on: December 24, 2009

I will be giving a lecture on herb gardening to a garden group and anticipate a question or two I can’t answer. My audience lives and gardens on the barrier islands off the southern coast of GA., USA zone 8; on the mainland adjacent to the islands, down to Jacksonville, FL. USA, zone 9 from the coast as far as 15 miles inland.

Salt tolerance aside, what perennial herbal ground covers will tolerate sandy soil, humidity and full summer sun? Which ones will do well planted between paver’s under the same conditions? Should they be planted from seedlings or seed and when?

Your best bet would be some of the thymes. Recommend creeping lemon thyme, purple carpet lemon thyme, lime thyme, orange balsam thyme, orange spice thyme, lavender thyme, minus thyme,nutmeg thyme and rose petal thyme. If the plants are not used between paving stones, you can add lemon thyme and some rosemaries such as blue rain and Huntington carpet rosemary. Do check our web-site under "News&Info" /"Q&A" /Type in "Ground cover"

If there is a good wind break will the same answer hold true for the barrier islands and seaside gardens?

I think so, but we do not have much feed-back from customers on this.

In either situation, should the soil be amended and or a barrier placed under the soil to prevent leaching of nutrients and water?

Amend the soil with compost or peat moss to retain some water and nutrients. I do not think a barrier isn’t necessary unless the soil is pure coarse sand.

For myself, I have a beautiful stand of French tarragon propagated from nursery grown seedlings. I have layered it and some new plants are coming up on their own. It bloomed profusely. I assume the seeds of the original plants are sterile. Is the same true for the seeds I will get next year from the new plants?

If you get fertile seed, then you do not have French tarragon, but Russian tarragon.French tarragon never sets seed. Some of the Russian tarragon plants may be quite acceptable in flavour- especially in your high light and heat conditions, but to be sure and so as to be not over-run with seedlings, I would stick to French tarragon and make cuttings if you want more plants.

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