Are you thinking about ditching your lawn and going with a more exciting ground cover plant? Blue star creeper is a tempting lawn alternative, but you might not know exactly how to grow and care for it.
Well, we’ve got the answers to your questions. First things first: blue star creeper is super easy to plant and maintain. Botanically known as Isotoma fluviatilis, it’s a popular ground cover to work into an ornamental landscape.
Being a low but fast-growing plant, it develops into a mass of deep green leaves with delicate creeping stems. They remain evergreen throughout the year.
To learn how to plant blue star creeper and care for it in your landscape, read our complete guide.
|Common Names:||Blue star creeper, Swamp isotome|
|Scientific Name:||Laurentia fluviatilis or Isotoma fluviatilis|
|Origin:||Asia, Australia, and New Zealand|
|Light:||Partial to full sun|
|Water:||Evenly moist soil, weekly watering|
|Bloom time:||Early spring to early fall|
|Leaf:||Small, bright green, quadrilateral, evergreen|
|Foliage Color:||Deep green|
Isotoma fluviatilis is a perennial herb that forms a low-growing mat. It was discovered by Robert Brown in 1810 and was classified as Isotoma by George Bentham in 1864. It’s a ground cover with blue flowers. It’s ideal for planting between paving stones, in the rock garden, or as an alternative for the lawn.
Types of Blue Star Creeper
There are three sub-species for this plant you might want to try. They mainly differ in their leaf shapes and sizes.
Isotoma fluviatilis subsp. Australis
This subspecies of blue star creeper has corolla of 7-15 mm long with 5-13 mm long leaves. The width of leaves varies between 2-7 mm. The corolla is mostly blue but you may even find some in pink color.
Isotoma fluviatilis subsp. Borealis
Borealis is more or less the same as Australis which often makes it difficult to distinguish between the two. The corolla for Borealis version of blue star creeper is 6-10 mm long. The leaves are usually 5-12 mm long and 2-5 mm wide. In the flowers, you’ll find approximately 5-40 mm long pedicels. Corolla and lobes are hairy inside and ovary is glabrous in Borealis.
Isotoma fluviatilis subsp. Fluviatilis
This is the most common form of blue star creeper. Its leaves are 5 to 15 mm long and the corolla is glabrous with 4 to 7 mm in length. The female flower of Fluviatilis has 4 to 6 mm long corolla and anthers are pale and small without pollen.
Blue Star Creeper Care
This plant is gorgeous no matter where you place it: filling the edges of a pond or forming a low, dense mat between stepping stones. It’s also easy to care for – here’s what you need to know.
Plant in sunny or partially sunny areas. They need a sufficient amount of light to grow…full shade is not ideal If you live in a warmer zone, planting blue star creeper in a location where it has direct sunlight for most of the day will keep it growing well.
For the best growth, it needs regular watering. In the first year of growth proper watering is crucial, so that it can firmly establish itself in the soil. After that, it becomes pretty drought-resistant. However, blue star creeper doesn’t like to sit in water. So you’ve got to be careful about where you plant it.
Avoid planting it in lower spots that may be susceptible to holding water after rain. Despite its drought-tolerance, you still have to water it well during hot and dry weather to avoid death.
It prefers moist, well-draining soil that doesn’t get too hot in the peak of the day. As a ground cover, it works quite well when interplanted between larger shrubs, bushes, or trees.
It’s not a heavy feeder, so you don’t even need to fertilize provided you have quality soil. However, an application of a general-purpose garden fertilizer prior to the growing season can help to recondition your soil before planting.
If growing in containers as an ornamental or houseplant, you can repot it at will. As soon as it starts to outgrow a pot, simply divide it up into smaller pots, or size your pot up by about 1″ or so.
If you want to propagate Isotoma fluviatilis, there are two ways to do it: by dividing the root ball or seeds.
The root ball can be easily divided. Gently scrape the soil from the roots by either using sharp pruning shears or your hand. Split the root ball and plant it in your desired pot or in the ground.
The second way is rather complicated to carry out. What you need to do is to let the seed pods dry on the plant, then crush them in an air-tight container to collect the seeds. Once you have the seeds, sprinkle them on a moistened seed starting mix.
Once the seeds are evenly distributed on the seed mix, place a newspaper on the container. Make sure to leave a small gap between the container’s top surface and the soil. This will give your blue star creeper seeds a place to sprout.
Keep the container moist and in partial sunlight for 7 to 15 days. When the seedlings reach the six-leaf stage, plant them in the ground or your desired location.
Considering the fact that it isn’t native to the United States, it can spread rather quickly, making it invasive in nature.
This fast growth happens when you over-water the plant or apply more fertilizer than necessary. Try using a deep landscape edging material to stop unwanted spreading, or you can hand pull any extra growth easily.
So long as you’re keeping it well-watered and protected, you shouldn’t have too many growing issues. It rarely gets into trouble with pests or diseases, but it may face some problems if you ignore its growing requirements.
If you water them too much, the plants will rapidly grow and spread out over the ground. While it might sound good to have a garden full of
blue flowers, at some point it will start to take over other areas of the yard or garden that you’d rather dedicate to different plants.
That said, overwatering can also be an issue if you have heavy clay soil that holds on to too much water. You can easily kill the plant by over watering.
Blue star creeper is not an invasive plant by classification, but it can grow in a pattern that resembles an invasive species if you make its growing environment favorable to explosive growth.
You don’t have to be too concerned about pests when it comes to blue star creeper lawn care. The low-spreading plant is not bothered by insects. Also, you won’t have to worry about rabbits making a home in your lawn as it’s resistant to them as well!
This groundcover with blue flowers is prone to fungal diseases that halt the roots’ ability to grow and develop. So, it’s important that you plant it in locations that are moist but well-drained to prevent nasty fungal issues like damping off, leaf spot, etc.
Q. What fertilizer should I use?
A. Any general-purpose plant fertilizer will be fine. Also, keeping the soil nourished with organic compost can help with growth.
Q. Can I plant blue star creeper in a container?
A. Yes, container growing is a wonderful way to enjoy the beauty of this plant without having it spread all over the place.
Q. How can I control the spread of blue star creeper?
A. If you are planting it as a lawn replacement and want it to stay limited to a specific space, water a bit less often and don’t over-fertilize.
Q. I have dead spots in my ground cover…what’s up?
A. Dead spots can emerge in your swamp isotome ground cover if the soil is too moist. This can hinder the growth of the root. The second reason could be your soil running out of nutrients. So don’t overwater your lawn and focus on nourishing the soil instead.
If you want a ground cover plant that gives you gorgeous blue and white flowers without a whole lot of effort, give this plant a try. See you next time with another amazing plant. Happy gardening!
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