Friday, August 1, 2014

Silver falls fails, go for the licorice…

Last April I shared my idea for filling in new (winter death caused) gaps in the front garden plantings. I needed something to bind the smaller plants together while I waited for the Blue Pacific Shore Junipers to grow and be the glue. My solution = annuals. I bought several Dichondra argentea 'Silver Falls' (silver pony foot) and Helichrysum petiolare (licorice plant), 5 of each. Photo taken the day I planted…

I decided the silver sheen and smaller leaves of the dichondra would look best in the open area around the agaves, optunia and cylindropuntia. Which meant the larger “felty” leaves of the licorice plant were destined for the upper areas along the house and sidewalk.

I made the wrong decision. Can you even spot the dichondra?

‘Silver Falls’ has failed in a big way.

It’s just sitting there, not doing a thing.

Seemingly not changed a bit since the day I planted it 3 and a half months ago!

Whereas the licorice plant has gone a little crazy.

Growing up and out and canoodling with its neighbors.

Obviously a better choice for my situation. However the title of this post is a little misleading, because when planted correctly ‘Silver Falls’ is a huge success…

The key evidently is that it needs to fall, gravity helps, this plant is not a great creeper.

So I’m calling the hanging Dichondra argentea 'Silver Falls' my favorite plant in the garden this week and sharing the stats:
  • grown as a perennial in USDA Zones 9-11, a fast growing annual in the colder zones
  • eventually reaches 6ft wide (long?) and 6-12" tall
  • prefers well drained soil and doesn't need a lot of water
  • likes the sun and is heat tolerant
Any annual successes or failures in your garden this summer?


All material © 2009-2014 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

47 comments:

  1. I don't know that I'd ever have tried Dichondra in the ground here, but it's good to know that it falls better than it creeps. I wonder how this would do in zero-G? I bet it would look pretty crazy... :)

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  2. I might have to look for this around here (7 a/b depending on the mood of the weather. We live in a weird pocket in the Blue Ridge Mountains), I like the look as a hanging plant.

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  3. Argh, I just bought a handful of 4" silver dichondra for this exact project. Maybe being in a warmer, more southerner-y climate zone will encourage some swifter, chunkier lateral growth.

    Thank you for reporting this, Loree!

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    1. According to other's (like Anonymous at the bottom of the page) there has been success, hopefully your experience will be more like theirs.

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  4. Wow, that dichondra looks good with the pot and the mailbox. Not so much in the ground. Seeing this, I'm glad I decided to skip the dichondra and go with other plants in the front agave bed even though I have seen it working quite well. It might hold over in your area because it survived our arctic winter both in the ground and pots.

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    1. I almost dug it out the other day simply because I'd given up on them and was tired of watering. Maybe I'll let it stay as an experiment to see what it does over the winter. Sadly the container will have to come down as it wouldn't survive the freeze/thaw.

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  5. Love the licorice plant! The dichondra is pretty too. On a side note, how do you keep your front yard so weed free??? Is there a weed barrier under that gravel?! Or are you just ever so vigilant when it comes to weed watch? Haha I'm honestly curious -Branden

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    1. No weed barrier, I hate that stuff. I've just been really lucky. The only weeds that develop are along the north side bordering the neighbors driveway, it's mostly oxalis. Oh and some volunteer feather grass but that's easy to yank out.

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  6. Interesting findings! Okay it would have been better if the plant did cover as you wanted it to but who would know that not letting the Dichondra fall would actually hinder its growth?? It does look great on your hanging planter!

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    1. I was sitting on the couch the other day, it was really windy and the front door was open. The container plant kept blowing into the view from the open door and startling me, like it was a person walking up the front steps.

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    2. A bit spooky isn't it? But also fun and shows how effective it is in a hanging pot how it sways in the wind.

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  7. Funny that you should say that about dichondra being better as a hanging plant. I recently planted six in the ground and they've done very well, sending inquisitive tendrils here and there. Maybe it is the heat, as Saurs said. (I've had good luck with it as hanging plant too.)

    I've had a handful of licorice plants over the years and I removed every single one because they did TOO well, crowding out other plants (they're perennial here). I do love their foliage and may revisit it this fall. Maybe there's a dwarf version that would be perfect for the front of the bed.

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    1. Could be the heat I suppose, but I would have thought we've been plenty warm, especially since it's growing in the hot gravel. Oh gosh if the licorice plants don't die back that could be dangerous!

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  8. I love the look of D. 'Silver Falls' but it does best in a pot in my garden as well. Keep a watch on the Helichrysum! It has overachieved in my garden, swallowing up smaller plants, even shrubs, in its path, although I expect that your colder temperatures will knock it down (or out) this winter. I got a head start on my favorites post this week but here's a link: http://krispgarden.blogspot.com/2014/07/my-favorite-plant-this-week-x.html

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    1. "overachieved"...perfect word! Reminds me of my very brief affair with Muehlenbeckia axillaris, never again.

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  9. I've long admired ponyfoot in those Texas blogs. Then I saw it used to great effect in JJ's garden. Now here. I think the universe is sending me a message. Last year was a great one for annuals from seed, this year not so much. I do always plump up the look with a few annuals in pots.
    Here's what I zeroed in on this week: http://bannersbyricki.com/archives/3892

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    1. Yes I enjoyed seeing it used in JJ's containers, especially with the agave. Maybe I'll have to copy her next year.

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  10. We've used it here in the NYC area as part of an annual border for the last two years and found it quite good as a creeping ground cover. The link below is from a week ago. It is just really starting to take off and spread out into the walkway. We do fertilize it and the other annuals regularly, so perhaps that's the difference. It is in strong sun.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/proteinbiochemist/14684648203/sizes/z/

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    1. Thanks for the image! Mine is in strong sun but haven't fertilized it.

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  11. Silver Falls--yep, I've killed that one. Here it likes fat conditions--rich, moist, fluffy soil, fertilizer. Looks much better in your yard than it did here. Maybe I'll have to try it again.

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    1. "rich, moist, fluffy soil, fertilizer"...not really describing my front garden. Although I have watered it more than it deserves.

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  12. It indeed does better as a trailing plant. Good tip on the licorice. I have emerald falls and silver falls this year. I just wish I'd started the seeds a lot earlier. It took until just now to get big enough.

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    1. "emerald falls and silver falls"...such a beautiful image comes to mind!

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  13. It annoying when you can't get a plant to grow as you want, then see it grown properly and realise why.
    Another little plant for me this week, sedeveria letizia, http://spikyobsession.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/sedeveria-letizia-is-my-favourite-plant.html

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  14. Fancy that.
    Just last night I was tending to this plant that hangs outside my back door,
    and wondering "what IS this plant?".
    Apparently, all I have to do is ask, and I shall receive!

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    1. What are the chances of that!? Yours must be a perennial then?

      (love the seaweed photos on your blog)

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  15. Pam talks about using Dichondra quite a bit on her blog, and I always assumed it was better suited to the Texas climate than here. But it looks like it's doing very well in your hanging pot. Love the licorice plant too, although I;ve never grown it. I have lots of annuals that I grow from seed -- Nasturtiums, California poppy, and Calendula. I have a favorite this week: http://bonneylassie.blogspot.com/2014/08/my-favorite-plant-in-garden-this-week.html

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    1. You're so good with the seeds! I saw dichondra growing at Lauren Hall-Behrens garden last summer and then when I saw it for cheap at Fred Meyer this year I decided to try it.

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  16. It's definitely stunning spilling from the hanging pot! I'll have to try that next season. My successes are the always reliable Cosmos and Fuchsias, and my challenge this year is my Zinnias. I love Zinnias, but about 10 factors have worked against them in my garden this summer. Maybe I'll do a post on that. Both Silver Falls and Licorice Plant are nifty plants.

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    1. Do you grow the green zinnias? I bought some seeds this year, they're still in the packet.

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  17. Well now that is pretty interesting, I wouldn't have thought that dichondra would be so shy to grow in a 'creeping' situation because it's an amazing grower as a trailing plant in a pot. The Helichrysum looks great as a creeper though. Interesting post

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    1. Of course I'm only reporting my experience, sounds like others have had more success.

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  18. Dichondra Silver Falls can make a weed-smothering annual mat on the ground quite easily. I have seen it used over most of the country not only in hanging baskets but as a ground cover. It grows very quickly. Even though it has silver foliage, indicated it might like things completely dry, it performs very well with normal garden watering the same as marigolds or begonias. Plant it is good garden soil and it goes crazy with growth.

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    1. Well it's obviously not performing that way for me, and yes I've been generous with the watering since there are a few newly planted things in the area which I am trying to get established.

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  19. How interesting! It seems to creep and spread across decomposed granite beds quite readily here in Austin. I wonder if your cooler climate has it stumped? Luckily your licorice plant looks like a perfect substitute.

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    1. Well judging by the many comments attesting to it's success at rambling there must be some reason it's not doing so here. I thought perhaps KS was on to something with her comment about the soil vs. gravel but if it's happy in your dg then...????

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  20. Growing up in 1950's LA, the dichondra lawn was considered the zenith of lawn-ness. It was hideously high maintenance but looked damn nice if you could pull it off. I think your silver falls want might some bare soil to connect with. Maybe the gravel is it's road block ?

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    1. Oh just imagine the shimmers of silver! That would be gorgeous but who needs high maintenance (isn't that why you get rid of the lawn?).

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  21. The dichondra in the hanging pot looks so good. Especially against your dark house. It's funny that yours hasn't grown in the ground, I guess it might come down to climate and soil difference - the one I planted in February this year has spread over the entire garden bed I put it in. The licorice plant looks excellent!

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    1. And it will be a perennial for you right Amy?

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  22. Who'd have thunk that it wouldn't perform in the ground for you? Never grown this one but yours in the pot looks fantastic and JJ's combos with it are marvy! Hope you're enjoying our sun and heat; I sure am!

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    1. Enjoying yes, but I must get outside and water again soon...

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  23. Given the right location, 'Silver Falls' is hardy for us and tends to seek out nooks and crannies in masonry, but it has to have perfect drainage. This past winter we got down to 6 degrees, and I thought for sure it was gone, but it came back to surprise me.

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