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Judith Browning
Post     Subject: Companions to hibiscus/groundcover

hi, courtney and welcome to permies!

I don't know the answer to your question but I am sure you will get some input from folks here. Thanks for posting
Courtney Wolfgang
Post     Subject: Companions to hibiscus/groundcover

Hello everyone!

I have been gardening for 2 years now after purchasing a home on a .25 acre lot, 8 blocks from the ocean in Central Florida, Zone 9. I am learning as much as I can about permaculture principles. Although I have a huge amount of questions, today I am wondering if anyone can help me solve a situation in my back yard, in a long north-facing patch running east to west for 75 feet, bordered by a 4ft high concrete "fence" and tall shrubs from the neighbor's yard on its south side. It is about 6-7 feet wide stretching away from the wall. I tell you this to describe that it is partial sun, and towards the wall mostly shady.

My favorite flower is hibiscus... the old owners of this property left several old, well-established ones in this landscape bed I've described. My goals for this area are to put in some sort of ground cover so that I don't continually need to mulch and weed here, add some more color, and I would love to get the hibiscus blooming more (I get a couple blooms here and there, every so often). I've been using organic tropical plant fertilizer and seaweed spray which has worked OK, but I thought to myself, I wonder if there's a sort of nitrogen-fixing companion I can plant around my hibiscus so that I can lessen my inputs. If it added color (preferably with a flower) that would be an added bonus. And I'll always love an edible or medicinal plant If it's not a ground cover I'm not too bothered because I have other ground covers in mind.

So questions:

1. Do you know of any companion type plant or group of plants/guild that would help the hibiscus to be healthy and bloom more? Perhaps one that would suit my other needs (ground cover, color/flowers, edible or medicinal)?
2. What do you think of the other ground covers I have in mind: creeping raspberry, creeping thyme (Elfin), Laurentia Blue Star Creeper, Brides Tears (antigonon leptopus), FL native morning glories, New Zealand spinach. Would like to use a combination of covers. Are there any I haven't thought of that you think would be good at covering more than one function, either edible, pretty flowers/color, or increase fertility of that piece of land?

From east to west, the shrubs growing there now are banana, Washingtonian palm, Queen palm, Angel Trumpet, Hibiscus, Triangle Palm, Plumeria, more hibiscus, umbrella tree. All well established and at least 10 years old. Final note is that on the far east side, in front of the bananas, is the canal to the Thousand Islands water system, which is brackish water, held back by concrete sea wall.

Thank you for any help, suggestions, or guidance you can provide!! If I've forgotten any necessary detail, please ask and I'll tell you!