Horizontal cocoplum makes a nice replacement for turfgrass; and here are some tips for establishing and using it in the landscape which were shared by Melissa McGaughey-Moyroud of Lorax Design in Lake Worth.
The Moyroud's yard was opened to the public earlier this spring during a native plant tour, and this is the lovely sight that greeted visitors as they got out of their cars. The cocoplum is the plant with round-y leaves draping so beautifully over the rocks. I don't know about you, but this line does it all for me. It's simple yet elegant, natural, interesting and mostly native. I asked Melissa to share some of her techniques with me, and she gave generously of her time.
Here are a few of the things I learned. The first year is critical. Melissa emphasized that this is true for any bed that is planted to replace grass. The gardener must be vigilant in keeping the new plants happy by making sure they are well hydrated and kept free of weeds. Cocoplum must be watered faithfully for a couple of months before it is truly established. Work in keeping the weeds out now will mean easy maintenance later when the new plants fill in and keep weeds out on their own. Also, once established, don't move. Cocoplum does not like to be transplanted once it has grown in.
There are several types of horizontal cocoplum available, and it is best to try to use a type that comes from the area you live in. Depending on the genetic type of cocoplum and the site where you have it, it may like to grow from two to five feet tall. However, it is easy to keep trimmed at the low height. Trim it down after the first sprouting occurs in the spring. After that you will probably only need to trim once or maybe twice through the rest of the growing season. Not all the branches will need to be trimmed at once, usually only a few from each plant will be growing high enough to warrant cutting. Or you may not care if it does grow to a higher level.
Here is an expanding bed of horizontal cocoplum being encouraged to take over the grass.
Cocoplum is relatively dormant in the winter, so don't get discouraged in the first year while the bed is sparse and not filling in quickly. Have patience. When the plants get growing in the spring, they will fill in, and not only be a snap to keep weeded but also will need no supplemental water.
By the way, cocoplum is an excellent source of both food and cover for wildlife. They bear purple, pink or white drupes that are edible, even by people. Many folks like to make jelly from the cocoplum's fruit.
Here's one more tip I learned from Melissa when I was admiring the way the cocoplum flowed over the rock features. Rocks make great accents in a landscape. But the rule is, if you can move it, it's too small! The rocks you see in the photo have only about one third of their surfaces showing. A rock that is really going to look like it belongs in place will be big enough to need a machine to move it in place. Good to know!!
Cocoplum is one of turfgrass replacements that is good for use in south Florida. Let's hear now from some of you northern landscapers!
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