Are you considering ditching your lawn for a more exciting lawn ground covering plant option? Blue star creeper can be a perfect alternative, but you must know everything about it.
Botanically known as Isotoma fluviatilis or Laurentia fluviatilis, Blue star creeper, or Swamp isotome originated from Australia, Asia, and New Zealand. It belongs to the Campanulaceae or bluebell family and grows to a height of 2-5 inches.
Its leaves are bright green, small, and quadrilateral and remain green for a big part of the plant’s life, and it also produces light blue or purple flowers that shoot upwards on thin stalks.
The flowers are not scented but are good for attracting bees, butterflies, and wasps, which will be good for you if you have fruit plants around.
Blue star creepers are not known to be invasive, but since they are not native to the United States, they can grow and spread quickly and may become invasive in certain situations. If you decide to grow it and you notice it is spreading fast, you can control it using walls or deep garden barriers.
It is a good substitute for a grass lawn not only because of its fast growth and low maintenance but also because it is resistant to foot traffic.
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Types Of Blue Star Creeper
Sotoma fluviatilis subsp. Fluviatilis
This is the most known type of the blue star creeper, with 5-15 mm long leaves and 4-7mm long corolla. The female flowers of this type of Blue star have corolla that is 4-6 mm long and has small and pale anthers without pollen.
Isotoma fluviatilis subsp. Borealis
These have a 6-10 mm long corolla. Its leaves have a length of 5-12 mm and a width of 2-5mm. Its flowers have pedicles that are 5-40 mm long.
Isotoma fluviatilis subsp. Australis
This has a 7-15 mm long corolla, which is mostly blue but can also be found in pink. The leaves are 5-13 mm long and 2-7 mm wide. These are very similar to the Isotoma fluviatilis subsp. Borealis, and it can be hard to tell them apart.
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The plant is easy to grow and requires minimum maintenance once established. It grows in a mounding and spreading manner, and due to its height which goes to a maximum of 5 inches, it is a perfect no-mow ground cover for your backyard.
For thick coverage, you need to plant it at least 8-10 inches apart. You can harvest the seeds from mature plants or buy them at a garden center or a nursery. Sow your seeds in a container with moist seed starter mix, then cover it with a newspaper.
Place the container in a place where it will receive partial sunlight and ensure that the soil is consistently moist until they sprout. The seeds may take 7-15 days to sprout, but you need to keep a close eye on them.
While it might not need a lot of maintenance once it is established, lack of the proper conditions and care can make it grow thin and have patches, especially under hot and dry conditions.
For the best growth of the plant, some requirements need to be met.
For full, thick, and colorful growth of the blue star creep, you need to ensure that it receives direct sunlight for the majority of the day or partial sunlight.
Blue star creeper requires regular watering during the first year of its growth to ensure that it firmly establishes itself in the soil. After the first year, it becomes pretty much drought-resistant, but it still needs proper watering, especially during the hot and dry weather.
It does not like sitting in water, so you have to ensure that you do not plant it in a place the does not drain properly after the rain.
The plant is not very picky when it comes to the soil so long as it is well-drained, moist, and does not retain a lot of heat. The soil should also have a pH level that is slightly acidic to alkaline or between 6.1- 7.8.
Since it is a ground cover, it also grows best when interplanted with trees, bushes, or shrubs.
Since the plant is not a heavy feeder, you need not worry about fertilizer so long as your soil is of the best quality. Applying general-purpose garden fertilizer before planting it, however, can help recondition your soil and ensure maximum growth of a strong plant.
Over-fertilizing will encourage it to grow aggressively, which makes it invasive.
Temperature and humidity
Since the blue star creeper is a cold-hardy and resilient plant, it can withstand temperatures that are as low as -20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit) with snow cover. It thrives best in the warmer summer and spring seasons.
While the Blue star creeper growing season varies, it usually blossoms from spring through to late fall, and it does best in USDA zones 6-9.
If you are growing your Blue star creeper in containers as a houseplant, it is key that you keep an eye on it, and if you notice it overgrowing the current container, you can either repot it into a bigger container or divide it into smaller parts and repot them into different containers.
While the plant does not necessarily need pruning, shearing the leaves of your blue star creeper to almost an inch tall during the late fall will assist in keeping it tidy during winter and spring as new growth starts to emerge.
That means that it does not need deadheading to encourage it to produce flowers.
You can easily propagate your blue star creeper by seed and division. It spreads by rhizomes, which grow below and above the ground, which makes it easier to divide and transplant your plant.
Rhizomes are modified stems that run horizontally underground and strike new roots from their nodes into the soil and shoot up new stems above the ground from their nodes.
When dividing your blue star creeper, dig around the root ball and rhizomes carefully, and be sure to preserve as many roots as you can. Gently separate the plant divisions from one another and replant immediately.
If you are propagating by division, it is best to do it in early spring and ensure you plant the new divisions in time for them to establish themselves properly in the soil.
If you are propagating by seed, you can do that by allowing seedpods to develop and dry on the plants. To harvest the seeds, collect the pods and break them open. After all the snow has disappeared in early spring, that is the perfect time for you to scatter the seeds.
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Blue Star Creeper Problems
Just because the plant is drought tolerant and does not need a lot of maintenance does not mean that it does not encounter some problems during its growth period.
Since the blue star creeper has shallow roots, overwatering it or planting it in soil that is not well-drained could cause fungal diseases like southern blight, leaf spot, and damping-off that will prevent the roots from growing and developing.
Southern blight being one of the most common fungal diseases that may attack your blue star creeper, is a fungal pathogen that spreads mostly in hot weather and acidic soil.
It spreads fast, and after it gets a hold in the soil, it attacks the stem of your plant at the soil line creating a dark-colored lesion.
To treat any soil fungus on your blue star creeper, use soil fungicides like;
Blue star creeper is not commonly attacked by pests, so that should be a worry scrapped off your list. An added advantage is that you also don’t have to worry about rabbits or dears being all over your lawn because the plant is also resistant to them.
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Does It Prevent Weeds?
While the blue star creeper is a ground cover, you should consider another option if your primary goal is to kill the weeds in your lawn.
Since it does not grow tall or tick enough to cover up the weeds underneath, they are still going to grow under the plant, and you have to find other ways to kill them.
Best Companion Plants For Blue Star Creeper
While the plant can grow beautifully on its own because of its evergreen leaves and pale blue flowers, some plants complement it beautifully if they are grown together. Some of these plants include;
Other complementing plants for your blue star creeper include Hostas, Hardy Ferns, Knock Out Roses, and Hydrangeas.
Where Can You Use Blue Star Creeper?
Most people use it in their garden as a ground cover because it grows fast and does not need a lot of maintenance. It is perfect for rock gardens, garden pathways, high settings, and rock walls.
Since it requires maximum or partial lighting, it is also a good plant to have under deciduous trees or bulbs. You can also have it in hanging baskets around your home, borders, beds, mailboxes, and landscaping.
If you have pets or children, it is best to be very careful as to where you have it as it could be dangerous when ingested.
Is It Easy To Get Rid Of Blue Star Creeper?
After having the blue star creeper in your backyard for some time, you might want to uproot it and change the appearance of your compound. However, how easy is it to get rid of the plant? Once the plant is properly established in the soil, getting rid of it can be impossible.
If you try uprooting it, you are more likely to break the roots, and some of it will come off the ground while some of them remain. Those that remain have very high chances of growing into new and strong plants.
Another factor that makes it hard to remove is its size. Since it has relatively small leaves and grows very close to the ground, it is hard for you to get a good grip of the plant to be able to remove it.