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Home / How To / Gardening / Plant Portraits / Brass buttons, creeping gold buttons

Brass buttons, creeping gold buttons

By Nancy Norris | November 22, 2021

This semi-green groundcover requires little water

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A ground cover on a garden railway
A ground cover on a garden railway
This groundcover has puffy, soft foliage and requires little water. Photo by Nancy Norris

 

Common name: Brass buttons, creeping gold buttons

Latin name: Cotula fallax, C. hispida, or C. lineariloba

Plant type: Perennial

Plant size: 2″ high x 10″ wide

USDA Hardiness Zones: 5-10

Cultural needs: Somewhat xeric, sun or part shade

Renamed Cotula fallax, this semi-evergreen groundcover is not to be confused with other popular fern-like Cotulas, which were also renamed into the genus of Leptinella and are also called brass buttons. Discovered on the mountainside of South Africa’s only ski slope, this tenacious, 2″-high plant has deep, water-seeking roots, making it perfect for the water-wise garden railroader, but top watering is preferred to make visible its secret character. After a morning misting, Cotula fallax’s curly, feather-like leaves envelope drops of water for hours and shine in the sun or shade like a meadow of jewels. Guests appreciate your growing it close enough to touch its puffy, soft foliage. Late spring begins a long blooming of tiny 1/4″-wide gold buttons, fading to gray, on spindly 4″ stems.

In the photo, we have mostly dead-headed the flowers to restore our scale meadow. Also note how this vigorous creeper (by underground stems) is threatening to overrun the rails. You can easily grab the foliage stems, which extend several inches beyond its roots, then pull them out, press down the soil, and replant the excess in bare spots. This remarkable groundcover is available online as Cotula hispida, which is preferable to other Cotula varieties having much larger flower heads.

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