Moss ground covers not only provide a natural carpet, these low-maintenance plants are an alternative to other weed-choking ground covers. Though the desert regions may seem inhospitable, some mosses and mosslike ground covers can actually thrive under a variety of harsh conditions, from the mountains and high deserts to the low-desert areas of Arizona.
Verbena tenuisecta, or moss verbena, is capable of growing throughout the state of Arizona. The plant grows up to 12 inches tall with a 6-inch spread and prefers dry conditions. Small, purple flowers bloom from February through May, and the blossoms repeat from September through November. This ground cover can be found along roadways and in rock gardens. Moss verbena attracts butterflies and would be a good addition to a wildlife garden.
Scotch and Irish Moss
Scotch (Sagina subulata) and Irish (Arenaria verna) moss are mounding, vibrant mosses suitable for landscaping along pathways and between pavers, though not recommended in the intermediate and low-desert regions. Plant plugs approximately 6 inches apart in loamy, well-draining soil. They will spread and fill cracks between flagstones and can also be used to fill small, empty garden spaces.
Also known as golden carpet and gold sedum, this mosslike plant is suitable for xeriscape landscaping especially with rocks and boulders. This ground cover does best when planted in acidic soil with good drainage. Sandy and gravelly soil is a good growing medium for this deciduous plant, which blooms yellow flowers in spring. The plant does have some limitations: It's best not to use along walkways or paths because it will not survive being walked on; also the plant isn't tolerant of the southwestern Arizona's dry heat.
- USDA Hardiness Zone Map: Arizona
- Xeriscape Landscaping Plants for the Arizona Desert Environment Pictures, Photos, And Information Perennials
- Texas A&M Horticulture: Moss Verbena Fact Sheet
- University of Illinois Extension: Scotch Moss
- "Sunset" magazine: Walk-On Lawn Substitutes
- "Sunset" magazine: Sunset Climate Zones: Arizona
- Photo Credit Morey Milbradt/Pixland/Getty Images
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