Looking to replace your lawn with something different? Mazus reptans, also known as creeping mazus, is a fantastic ground cover plant. In the late spring and early summer, it bursts into flower. Purplish-blue blossoms abound!
The rest of the year, its fast-growing foliage creates a dense mat of bright green. Durable and tolerant of tough conditions, it accepts being walked on without difficulty. And best of all, it’s easy to keep trimmed to size.
Let’s delve into this flowering ground cover plant. You’ll quickly see why people love mazus as a lawn replacement!
Mazus Reptans Overview
|Scientific Name:||Mazus reptans|
|Common Name(s):||Creeping mazus, mazus, cupflower|
|Zone:||5 to 8 ideal, 9 with partial shade|
|Height:||Up to 4″|
|Flowers:||Very small, purplish-blue with white and yellow markings|
|Bloom Time:||Late spring to early summer|
|Sun Exposure:||Full sun to partial shade|
|Soil:||Fertile, loamy soil|
|Watering:||Medium to wet, but without standing water|
|Foot Traffic Tolerance:||Good|
|Garden Uses:||Ground cover, rain gardens, rock gardens, paver edging, planters|
All About Creeping Mazus
Dense and lush, mazus spreads rapidly through stems that self-root. Its leaves are soft and lance-shaped with toothed edges, all in a bright shade of green.
The flowers that begin to appear in the late spring are similar to irises. Purplish-blue edges envelop a white center that’s dotted with flecks of yellow and red. They’re sometimes called cupflowers because they’re tubular or cup-like.
This fast-growing but tiny perennial will spread to fill your space quickly. Plant six plants per square yard, and you’ll have a dense mat of green in very little time at all.
Even if not grown as a lawn substitute, it’s a lovely plant to cultivate. It will trail out of hanging pots or cascade over the side of planters. Popular amongst winemakers, it grows happily beneath grapevines to reduce weed growth. And it works just as well between stepping stones as it does everywhere else!
Caring for mazus reptans couldn’t be any easier. Of the ground covers, this is one of the most popular for new gardeners. And there’s good reason for that: it basically grows itself.
But like any plant, providing the best conditions will give you the best floral show. Here’s everything you need to know to start your cupflower ground cover off right!
Light & Temperature
Full sun to partial shade is perfect for your mazus plants. In zones 5-8, it’s an evergreen plant. It’ll grow in zone 9 as well, but prefers a little afternoon shade during the peak summer months there.
Surprisingly cold-hardy, this plant will slow down its growth as the cool months set in. It will survive temps as low as -20, but it suffers damage when freezing sets in. On the bright side, once the plant fully thaws in the spring it should put out new growth.
Water & Humidity
Mazus has a preference for consistently-moist soil. It can handle moderate to heavy moisture levels as long as water doesn’t pool at the root level. A good baseline to work with is 1″-1.5″ of water per week, as necessary.
Mulch can help you to maintain the required moisture in your soil. Otherwise, run your lawn sprinkler regularly to prevent the soil from drying out. While it can tolerate short periods of drought, it may begin to wilt if water-stressed.
Cupflower has an obvious preference for fertile, loamy soil. It can tolerate less-fertile soils as long as they drain reasonably well. Avoid hard packed clay when possible as it’s difficult for the plant to root into.
The soil pH isn’t really crucial for this plant. A neutral soil is easiest to maintain in most areas. If planting as a cover for bulbing plants like lilies or daffodils, mildly acidic is fine. If your soil leans alkaline, that’s fine too. The important part is that your soil retains moisture without being a sticky, muddy mess!
If your soil is fertile enough to begin with, annual fertilization isn’t required. Before planting, work some compost through the soil. That should be enough to keep your creeping mazus happy for a while!
An annual application of compost around the base of your plants keeps the fertility up. I like to use compost as a mulch in the fall. This will help the roots to stay warmer through the chill of winter.
If you’d prefer to use a fertilizer, it’s best to do it in the spring. Opt for a balanced, organic fertilizer. A 5-5-5 is just fine. Avoid fertilizers which might burn the soft green leaves whenever possible. I recommend granular, slow-release options. Broadcast the granular fertilizer using a spreader and water it in to rinse dust off the plant.
Self-rooting stems of Mazus reptans will spread naturally on their own. But if you’d like to propagate, cuttings or division are your best choices. It can also be sown from seed in the spring or fall.
To perfectly clone your existing plants, I recommend division or cuttings. This ensures you have the same cultivar growing throughout your ground cover.
Division should be done in the early spring as the plant’s just starting to develop new shoots. Find the center of a large plant and use a sharp shovel to neatly cut it in half. You can replant one segment in a new location and fill in around the original spot.
Cuttings can be taken at any time of the year but should be planted outdoors in the spring. Select healthy stems 6″-8″ in length and cut them with clean pruning shears. Place the cut end into a loamy potting mix and keep it moist until well-rooted.
As the foliage of creeping mazus tends to be around 2″ tall, it’s easy to trim off spent flowers or random long stems. Set your lawnmower to 2.5″ to 3″ mowing height, and mow down the spent flower stalks.
It’s important to know that mazus acts like a “spilling” plant. It will spill downwards into lower-level planters and take root there. If your landscape is tiered, it can encroach on lower areas quite fast. Lawn shears can help you keep it edged up nicely.
Run an edger along sidewalks or pathways to remove any spillover stems that might occur. This will keep your clean edges looking pristine!
In hanging pots or planters, a pair of pruning shears is all you’ll need to keep mazus trimmed up. Most of your pruning in these containers is purely cosmetic.
Mazus Reptans Problems
Generally speaking, mazus is mostly problem-free. It’s hardy and easy to grow. But when those few rare problems arise, it’s important to know how to handle them. Let’s discuss that!
Growing Problems & Diseases
Mazus is subject to a condition that’s called “winterkill”. This is when hard freeze conditions cause the plant to die back. It can look ragged and abused when the snow begins to melt in the spring.
If your climate gets extreme cold in the winter, test plant some in the late summer or early fall. If the plant puts out new growth in the spring, feel free to use it as a lawn replacement. It’ll come back on its own!
While wet soils are okay for your creeping mazus, soils that don’t drain away standing water aren’t. The root system of your plant should never be left in standing water. If it is, the plant may die. Amend clay soils to ensure good drainage so the roots don’t get flooded.
There aren’t any serious disease issues for this plant. However, if you’re using it as a cover plant for a bed of bulbs, be very sure that the soil drains off excess moisture. While the bulbs can put growth up through mazus in the spring, they won’t grow if they’re rotten.
Your worst pests in your mazus ground cover will be slugs and snails. The leaves are quite appetizing to these slimy crawlers. I recommend an application of an organic snail bait to draw the pests’ attention away from the plants.
Happily, mazus reptans isn’t particularly appetizing to deer or rabbits. Most other wildlife isn’t interested in it, either. And its bounty of spring to summer flowers are a wonderful draw for butterflies and bees. It’s about as perfect of a plant as you can find for new gardeners!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Is it okay to plant mazus ground cover in my lawn and walk over it?
A. That’s a trick question, and I’ll explain why: you don’t want to plant mazus in your existing lawn.
Creeping mazus doesn’t compete well with lawn grass for nutrients. In fact, the dense root system that most lawn grasses create can choke out your mazus plants. It’s best if you remove any grass near your plants.
As a lawn replacement, yes, you can absolutely walk on this lovely ground cover! It’s soft underfoot and bounces back quickly.
Q. I have mazus grown in a container. Can I propagate it to grow in my lawn?
A. Sure! Take some cuttings of your container-grown mazus. Once it’s formed roots, you can plant it out. I do recommend planting mazus in the spring, as it will spread to fill in open spaces best then.
Q. How often should I fertilize mazus ground cover?
A. If you’ve added compost to your soil, you may not need to fertilize. I like to mulch in the fall with compost in lieu of fertilizer. But if you do fertilize, choose a granular, balanced slow-release organic fertilizer. Apply it in early spring and water it in. That’s all your plant should need for the year.
Seriously, it’s so easy to grow mazus reptans that I can’t stop raving about it. This gorgeous flowering ground cover will give you a lush and dense mat of greenery. The flowers are gorgeous and will attract butterflies. And you’ll be thrilled with this lawn replacement. Don’t hesitate to give up your grass for this great grower!
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