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Thanks to fellow Master Gardener, Heather Fortner, I have been introduced to one of those 'perfect' coastal garden plants-- Muhlenbeckia axillaris.

Muhlenbeckia is an uncommon garden plant that grows quite easily as a houseplant, in an outdoor container, or as a mat-forming ground cover.

I'm always looking for interesting ground covers for my own garden. Why spend the time and effort spreading mulch every season, when a beautiful, dense, evergreen plant will do most of the same job.

Muhlenbeckia originates from Australia and New Zealand. The small, dark-green leaves and reddish or brownish stems remain attractive through the winter, and the tiny white flowers appear in late spring. Even though it looks fragile, it's a tough plant that can take some wear and tear. The plant produces a dense mat that is springy and also quite comfortable to sit or lay on.

On the coast, Muehlenbeckia is okay for full sun or partial shade, but requires well-drained soil. Space new plants 18 to 24 inches, or if you are lucky enough to get cuttings like I did, just spread the mat out on the ground and push it into the soil. The plants will send out shoots to cover any open spaces.

After planting, water regularly until it becomes well-established in its new site. If you plant during the rainy season, you can rely on the rainfall. Fertilize with compost or a balanced fertilizer in the spring, before new growth appears.

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