Leptinella is a creeping perennial groundcover that spreads quickly by rhizomatous runners just under the soil surface. Leaves are feathery or fern-like with colors ranging from grayish-green to bright green with gray, purple and black tints. Flowers are tiny button-like heads without the petal-like ray florets usually associated with daisies. Colors of flowers range from white to yellow or even black.
Leptinella stays evergreen during the majority of Portland’s winters and grows well in shade or sun. Once established, Leptinella forms dense mats that can withstand regular foot traffic. This ground cover looks great in many different types of gardens, such as fairy, Japanese, and woodland. In terms of function, Leptinella is useful as a durable lawn substitute, living patio, or planting between pavers
or along the edges of pathways.
Family: Asteraceae (Daisy Family)
Common Name: Brass Buttons
Origin: Australia, New Zealand, South America
Culture: Thrives in moist, well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. Tolerates full sun and full shade, but best in part shade. Hardy in zones 4-10.
Maintenance: Regular water and annual fertilizing. Transplants easily if bare spots arise due to drought or cold.
Pests and Disease: Few insect and disease problems. May die off in areas where soil is too compact or dry and hot.
Varieties you may find at Portland Nursery include:
Light green fern-like leaves with button yellow flowers are found on this Leptinella from New Zealand. Hardy to zone 4 and ranging in height from 1 inch to 5 inches and 12 inches to 16 inches wide, this species tolerates sun to part shade and regular foot traffic.
Leptinella squalida ‘Platt’s Black’
A popular variety, Leptinella squalida ‘Platt’s Black’ has distinctive black leaves with bright green tips and dark-colored flowers. This variety was named after Jane Platt of Portland, Oregon, who discovered this unique variety in her garden. All other characteristics are similar to Leptinella squalida.
Leptinella gruveri (Miniature Brass Buttons)
Similar to Leptinella squalida, except individual leaves are very small (miniature) and the height of the groundcover is much shorter in stature. Height of the foliage is around one inch and the width is around 12 inches. Leptinella gruveri tolerates sun to part shade and high foot traffic. Great as an evergreen lawn substitute.
Leptinella potentillina (Verdigris Brass Buttons)
This species of Leptinella is native to damp coastal places in New Zealand. Verdigris Brass Buttons have yellow, button-like flowers which bloom on runners of bronzy-green, ferny foliage. Growing 2 inches high and 12 inches wide, this species is similar to other kinds of Leptinella in that it tolerates regular foot traffic and sun to part shade.