Dichondra: Annual plants
How to Plant
Planting in the Garden:
- Select a location in full sun in soil in well drained soil. This is an excellent plant for hanging baskets as well.
- Prepare the bed by turning the soil under to a depth of 8 inches. Level with a rake to remove clumps of grass and stones.
- Most plants respond well to soils amended with organic matter. Compost is a wonderful form of organic matter with a good balance of nutrients and an ideal pH level, it can be added to your planting area at any time. If compost is not available, top dress the soil after planting with 1-2 inches of organic mulch, which will begin to breakdown into compost. After the growing season, a soil test will indicate what soil amendments are needed for the following season.
- Dig a hole for each plant large enough to amply accommodate the root ball.
- Place the top of the root ball even with the level of the surrounding soil. Fill with soil to the top of the root ball. Press soil down firmly with your hand leaving a slight depression around the plant to hold water.
- Water thoroughly, so that a puddle forms in the saucer you have created. This settles the plants in, drives out air pockets and results in good root-to-soil contact.
- Use the plant tag as a location marker.
How to Grow
- Keep weeds under control during the growing season. Weeds compete with plants for water, space and nutrients, so control them by either cultivating often or use a mulch to prevent their seeds from germinating.
- Mulches also help retain soil moisture and maintain even soil temperatures. For annuals an organic mulch of shredded leaves lends a natural look to the bed and will improve the soil as it breaks down in time. Always keep mulches off a plant’s stems to prevent possible rot.
- Plants need about 1 inch of rain per week during the growing season. Use a rain gauge to check to see if you need to add water. It's best to water with a drip or trickle system that delivers water at low pressure at the soil level. If you water with overhead sprinklers, water early in the day so the foliage has time to dry off before evening, to minimize disease problems. Keep the soil moist but not saturated.
- Until plants become established, some protection from extreme winds and direct, hot sunlight may be necessary. Good air movement is also important.
- After new growth appears, a light fertilizer may be applied. Keep granular fertilizers away from the plant crown and foliage to avoid burn injury. Use low rates of a slow release fertilizer, as higher rates may encourage root rots.
- Monitor for pests and diseases. Check with your local Cooperative Extension Service for pest controls recommended for your area.
- Remove plants after they are killed by frost in fall to avoid disease issues the following year.
- With its elegant cascading habit, dichondra is great for urns, hanging baskets and windowboxes as a “spiller” plant. Its silvery foliage contrasts beautifully with many colorful annuals or perennials.
- Plants are heat and drought tolerant.
Common Disease Problems
Alternaria Leaf Spot: Small, round reddish brown spots with white to grey centers form on the upper surface of the leaves and along the midrib. The lesions may encircle the stems and cause wilt. This disease is worse in warm, wet or very humid weather. Burpee Recommends: Avoid getting water on the foliage. Remove infected plant parts and do not work around wet plants. Provide plenty of air circulation. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for fungicide recommendations.
Root Rots: A number of pathogens cause root rots of roots. Burpee Recommends: Pull up and discard infected plants. Make sure your soil has excellent drainage. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for recommendations.
Rust: A number of fungus diseases that cause rust colored spots on foliage and stalks. Burpee Recommends: Plant resistant varieties. Remove infected plant parts. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for recommendations.
Common Pest and Cultural Problems
Cutworms: These insects cut off the seedlings at the soil level. Burpee Recommends: Place a paper cup collar (use a coffee cup with the bottom cut out) around the base of the plant. They are usually mostly a problem with young plants. You can also control by handpicking and controlling weeds, where they lay their eggs
Flea Beetles: These small hopping beetles feed on plant foliage and may spread diseases. Burpee Recommends: Rotate crops with plants. Use floating row covers to prevent damage to young foliage.
Is dichondra a perennial or annual? Dichondra is a tender perennial. It is usually grown as an annual except in zone 10.
Can I use dichondra as a ground cover? Yes, as an annual ground cover unless you are in zone 10.
Does dichondra bloom? Yes, but the flowers are insignificant.