Widely used as a ground cover plant Dichondra repens also works well in a hanging basket. A perennial that has a creeping habit it forms nodes, where the nodes touch the ground it is inclined to send out roots. Native to Australia and New Zealand and also own as kidney grass this is a versatile plant that grows well a range of conditions from full sun to part shade.
It does require a moist position to grow well, although in shade it seems to cope well with drier than normal conditions, in sun, moisture is needed.
Dichondra repens as a lawn substitute
If grown as a lawn substitute Dichondra repens will need little to no mowing and in this respect it is low maintenance. In sunny positions this is a low growing ground cover however moisture is required, dry sunny positions are not really suitable especially in warmer climates. In shade it handles dryness well although it will tend to be a taller growing plant in deep shade.
In high traffic areas it is probably best to set in some stepping stones to avoid wear. As the plant settles in, growth habit tends to become shorter. Small white flowers in spring to summer are insignificant but do allow self seeding if retained.
As a lawn substitute Dichondra repens will form a thick carpet over time, you can run the mower over it, set fairly high 3-4 times a year. Wait till it is established before mowing, and avoid mowing during winter while it is dormant, this may make it look a little sad for a while. Mowing will keep it thick and lush.
As a lawn it is lower growing in sunny positions than in shade, an excellent ground cover for sloping sections of the garden as Dichondra repens does not need to be mown, although it can be.
Dividing and propagating
If you are thinking transplanting or dividing Dichondra repens remember to water well the day before, both the the section that you are dividing and the position you are transplanting to. Try to take reasonable sized plugs, around 12cm, this way you will ensure that you get a good root system with it. Water in with a liquid seaweed fertilizer to help minimise transplant shock, and keep moist until you see some good signs of new growth.
The best time to transplant is in late summer while the soil is still warm, or in early spring, when things are warming up.
Yes you can grow it from seed, sowing is similar tossing lawn seed, sow, rake in and water regularly until established.
Care of Dichondra repens
Newly planted seeds or seedlings will require regular water until they are established. If you must mow try not to mow from when the plant flowers until it sets and drops seeds as this helps create a thicker cover.
Over watering can be a problem especially warmer humid periods, however during dry summers areas influx sun will need regular watering. A general purpose fertilizer applied in early spring and again in early summer seems to be adequate. Propagation is from seeds or by taking plugs from established areas in spring or autumn. Seeds are available for sale from native seed suppliers and plants are available from most nurseries and garden centers.
- Dichondra silver falls is a different species widely used in hanging baskets see Dichondra argentea ‘silver falls’.