Great Groundcovers for Full Sun in Las Vegas

In response to a request by a very patient reader in the comments section awhile back, I’m finally putting together a list of nice little groundcovers for full sun in Las Vegas. And by full sun I mean full freakin’ sun, guys. Think high-noon-on-the-Fourth-of-July-and-planted-in-decorative-rock full sun. Some stay green and some go down for the winter, all of them get a flower, but rest assured that the words New Gold Lantana and creeping rosemary will not be mentioned here. Well, not from here on out anyway.

I think you’re going to be surprised by what’s available but if you don’t see something that cranks your gears here, do check back. I’m also working on a list of groundcovers that sure can take a whole lot of sun but that I personally think look their best if they can get a little break from it at some point. Should be up by next week, fingers crossed.


Golden Dyssodia
Thymophylla pentachaeta
1’H x 1’W





Even though it’s is a short-lived perennial, you can count on this Thymophylla to reseed throughout your garden and bloom like mad in the spring and fall. I’ve even seen them blooming in the wintertime when the temperatures were mild. This is one you’ll see blooming all through the desert and its bright yellow flowers are sure to catch your eye. By the way, it’s a host for butterfly larvae so if you’re planning a butterfly garden, it should definitely be added to your list.


Sierra gold daleaSierra Gold Dalea 
Dalea capitata ‘Sierra Gold’

6”H x 3-4′

This pretty little plant looks so soft and ferny when it fills in, I think it fools people into thinking it must be fussy when the very opposite is true. Sierra Gold Dalea wants as much heat as you can throw at it and it’ll little yellow flowers will come up on 2″ stems throughout most of the warmer months.

sierra gold dalea flowerI have seen this plant damaged by below-freezing temperatures but all that happened was the top of the plant turned a little black– kind of like if someone with a delicate touch and a crème brulee torch got ahold of it. If that happens, just leave it alone until it warms up and then cut the damaged part off. It’ll often fill in again by the end of the summer to the point where you can’t even tell it was damaged.



Angelita Daisy
Tetraneuris acaulis
1’H x 1.5’W

Angelita Daisy is the plant to plant if you want a plant that’s going to flower when no other planted plants are flowering.  Its cheery yellow blooms appear off-and-on throughout the year, making it one of the most reliable flowering groundcovers I know of.


Angelitas will go down if the temperatures reach 10°F but I don’t know that we’ve done that here ever and I’m not nearly motivated enough to research it right now. Besides, there’s a good chance they’d pop right back up in the spring even if it did happen. Just enjoy their loveliness and leave worrying about Vegas becoming Fargo for another day. That’s pretty much what I do all the time.

A little useful knowledge if you’re shopping at Star Nursery– they either sell this plant as Perky Sue or they’re selling Tetraneuris scaposa, which is actually Perky Sue. Either way, they are very similar and can be used interchangeably. 


melampodium leucantha, blackfoot daisy

Blackfoot Daisy
Melampodium leucanthum
1’H x 1.5’W

Blackfoot Daisies love the heat and offer up a beautiful flower show in the spring and fall here. White little daisy flowers with a yellow center just about cover the plant when it’s in bloom and the greyish-green leaves make it a pretty, drought-tolerant and low-maintenance plant when it’s not.

Melampodium leucanthum is known to recover from temperatures as low as -20°F and since it can take our 117°F without batting a bloom, I’d say it has to be one of the toughest groundcovers out there that no one seems to be using. Go ahead, ask me why. Oh, why is no one using Melampodiums, you ask?  Hell if I know.



  • Gardening on Mars ! Ha I found all this out the hard way. I was born raised in the SF Bay Area. Where everything grows. I would love to grow fruits but I’m afraid they’ll be “dry”. My orang tree blooms every spring but the fruit is either sour or dry . Thank you for this info. I enjoy reading your blog

    • Thanks, Jessica! I’m sure it was a bit of a culture shock coming from the Bay Area Generally the issue with dry fruit here is that the tree isn’t getting enough water. Just remember, it takes a lot of water for a plant to make a flower and then even more for that flower to become a piece of fruit, let alone a juicy one. Here in the desert, pretty much all of the juice in your orange has to come from your irrigation. That means long drinks of water more often during the summer months when your tree has fruit on it. I hope this helps with your orange tree 🙂

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