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Wedelia: A mixed blessing ground cover?

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A Wedelia groundcover plant project

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Many years ago, in my younger days (the 1970s) when I called Corpus Christi, Texas my home, we had a front yard that needed a little fixing up. I took my family in our Chevy van and spent a nice sunny spring day with nature’s abundant wild flower bloom in full mode driving the countryside collecting discarded railroad ties strewn beside tracks just lying in the public right of way for “easy pickings”. (You could do that then and the belief was creosoted ties were not the problem they are today)

After loading these 8 foot monsters in the third-seat-out-and-left-at-home van rear area, (by myself I might add since my kids were too small to help and the wife was watching them) I took the ties home and dug out between our front sidewalk and street curb area and (with the help od a sharp chain saw and elbow grease) I set them in place for a border next to the concrete walk and curb.. After spiking each tie together with long, large, spike nails, I filled the resulting groundcover level boxes with a good, compost-rich soil.

The rich soil, filled within a couple of inches of the top of each tie, became the home of my first ever Wedelia groundcover plant experience. In almost no time that spring and summer, with a little water and fertilizer action, the plant bed had a beautiful yellow flower bloom carpet of groundcover.

One of these days I plan to plant the same groundcover yellow flower carpet for the soil around the tree beds in my front yard here in Fort Worth.

Below is some information for those of you who want create your own groundcover yellow flower carpet.

Beware the mixed blessing

Wedelia, thought somewhat of as a miracle plant, no matter where you put this fast-spreading groundcover — sun or shade — rich or weak soil--it usually takes hold, will bloom and is beautiful. The glossy green leaves and equally shiny yellow daisy flower always looks like it’s a plant that’s been recently oiled.

But beware….leave the groundcover plant to its own choices and it can overtake a yard or garden. It can float like a blanket over a 5-foot hibiscus, daylilies, and other various shrubs and plantings. The brilliant yellow daisy flower bloom will soon be everywhere. Unrestrained, the plant can be a nightmare.

Use for concrete bordered planting areas

However, if you need a groundcover that is persistent and with a beautiful bloom, especially for an area, limited on four sides by concrete, wedelia might just be the garden doctor’s order. It would be picture-perfect, like I found, in those concrete rectangles often created by streets, sidewalks and driveways. All I did was make the bed a few inches taller by adding the railroad timber ties for a more dramatic effect.

Use under wide shade trees

Another use, if you’re seeking something to plant under a wide shade tree, often where grass grows sparingly if at all, wedelia should work. As you don’t want to raise the soil level under trees, The Lazy Gardener suggests trying this:

Border the dead area. Let the edges scallop in and out, wherever the dead grass is. This will be more attractive than straight lines. Use landscape timbers or border clumping plants like clumping Katie’s compact ruellia.

Inside the enclosure, put small mounds of soil around eight inches high and wide.

On these mounds, plant your wedelia. As it spreads, it will take hold in the existing soil surrounding the mounds. Its roots are shallow and shouldn’t interfere with the tree roots. Gradually those mounds will settle and you’ll be left with a rather nice groundcover to take the place of the grass that’s never going to grow in such a shady area anyway.

If any wedelia escapes the enclosure, just mow it down when you mow the rest of the lawn.

Wildflower.org says Wedelia has:

GROWING CONDITIONS

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist
Soil Description: Dry, well-drained soils.
Conditions Comments: Zexmenia is long-lived, drought-tolerant, non-aggressive, and easy to grow. Excess water or shade can make it leggy; cut it back periodically. Woody-stemmed and evergreen in the southern part of its range, wedelia dies to the ground farther north.

BENEFIT

Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Butterflies
Larval Host: Bordered Patch, Sierran Metalmark, Lacinia Patch butterfly
Nectar Source: yes
Deer Resistant: Moderate

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