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Description

Common lippia, also known as frogfruit, is a low growing perennial that spreads over the ground with long linear stems to form a dense carpet-type planting. When grown as an unmowed bank plant, it can reach heights of 5-6 inches and have a soft cushion-like habit. When grown as a turf grass substitute, it can be mowed as low as 1 inch. It becomes semi-deciduous and dormant under winter conditions; it grows rapidly during the spring and becomes covered with numerous small purple and white flowers. These flowers are highly attractive to bees.

Common lippia has been planted as a turf grass substitute for many decades where its modest water and maintenance needs provides a neat lawn-like appearance. However, it does not tolerate regular foot traffic and is more of a visual substitute for a lawn than a surface to actively use. This plant is native to both Brazil and parts of the United States, including many parts of California.

Water Needs

Common lippia is easy to grow in Inland Empire gardens in areas of full sun and when sustained with low summer water. The chart shown below provides a recommended baseline guide to the monthly irrigation schedule and volume of supplemental water needed to maintain healthy growth throughout the average year. It should be noted there are several months marked by an asterisk (*) when winter rains can provide sufficient moisture and irrigation is not needed. The high and low range of moisture indicates it can grow with varying amounts of water; you should make irrigation adjustments based on field observations of growth and character. The high end of this moisture range is recommended when this species is planted as a lawn substitute to help sustain better foliage character under sunny conditions and with light foot traffic.

Irrigation Schedule and Graph

Low Water Use Plants

Irrigation Schedule 2

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
Runs per Month 0x to 2x 0x to 2x 0x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 0x to 2x 0x to 2x
Inches per Run 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1"
 
Inches per Month 0" to 2" 0" to 2" 0" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 0" to 2" 0" to 2"

Range of supplemental summer water: 7"-14"
Range of supplemental winter water: 0"-10"

 
0"-2"
0"-2"
0"-2"
1"-2"
1"-2"
1"-2"
1"-2"
1"-2"
1"-2"
1"-2"
0"-2"
0"-2"
  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
For more information on how to use this Irrigation Schedule and Graph, click here.

Plant Properties

Plant Type: Ground cover, Perennial
Foliage Character: Winter deciduous
Habit: Spreading, Dense
Growth Rate: Fast
Height: 3 in. - 6 in.
Water Needs: Low 2
Foliage Color: Medium green
Flower Color: Purple, Lavender
Flower Season: Spring
Soil Adaptations: Well-draining soil
Exposure Adaptations: All day sun
Function: California native, Banks, Attracts bees, Lawn substitute

Maintenance

Can be mowed or, for small areas, cut back with a hedge shear. Some people prefer to mow to prevent flowering for large groundcover areas if they want to avoid attracting bees. This is fine for the plant. If bees are not a concern, leave the flowers because they will provide good pollinator habitat. Trim edges as needed to keep "in bounds," (S).

Associations

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