How to Grow and Care for Dichondra 'Silver Falls'

It's a waterfall in a plant.

Silver Falls Plant
Photo: vsanderson/Getty Images

Silver falls plant is known by the scientific name Dichondra argentea 'Silver Falls.' Its common name is accurate: This plant resembles a silvery waterfall cascading down out of hanging baskets, containers, and window boxes, or a silvery wave flowing across gardens and beds. It creeps and trails and cascades wherever it's planted.

This native to West Texas is also called silver ponyfoot and silver nickel vine. Both names reference the color of the plant's foliage and the rounded shape of the leaves. It's an herbaceous perennial with small, rounded, fan- or heart-shaped foliage in shades ranging from green to grey. The foliage can also appear silvery and metallic, which is why it's grown as an eye-catching annual in most of the South. It reliably stands up to high temps and even extreme heat, spilling beautifully from pots, serving as a fast-growing groundcover, or trailing as much as 5 feet when planted in hanging baskets. Plant it along a rock wall or hanging from your window box—it's lovely when it waves in the wind.

Plant Attributes

  • Common Name: Silver falls plant, silver ponyfoot, silver nickel vine
  • Botanical Name: Dichondra argentea 'Silver Falls'
  • Family: Convolvulaceae
  • Plant Type: Tender Perennial, Annual, Herbaceous, Groundcover
  • Mature Size: 5 ft. long, 4 in. tall
  • Sun Exposure: Full, Partial
  • Soil Type: Loamy, Sandy, Well-drained
  • Soil pH: Mildly Acidic to Mildly Alkaline
  • Bloom Time: Late Spring
  • Flower Color: Yellow, Green, White
  • Hardiness Zones: 10-12 (USDA)
  • Native Area: North America, Central America

'Silver Falls' Care

In spring, this plant produces barely noticeable blooms in green, white, and yellow hues, but the metallic foliage is the real draw. Those leaves are mostly trouble-free, requiring little attention and rarely susceptible to damage from disease or insects in the Southeast. 'Silver Falls' grows best in plenty of sunlight and well-drained soil, preferring to stay on the drier side.

Light

'Silver Falls' can easily handle full sun, that is six hours or more of direct sunlight a day. It will grow in partial sun as well, but provide as much light as you can to encourage dense growth and preserve the silver color.

Soil

This plant grows best in loamy and sandy soils. 'Silver Falls' also can grow in regular potting soil with your other container plants, as long as it is well-drained and not overly moist. It is also salt-tolerant, making it a good choice for coastal areas.

Water

'Silver Falls' prefers dry to average moisture. It doesn't take well to overwatering and should be allowed to dry out between waterings. If the plant begins to wilt, it will bounce back after a good drink of water.

Temperature and Humidity

In addition to being heat and drought-tolerant, 'Silver Falls' can flourish in humid climates. The key is to not overwater your plant or grow it in continuously soggy soil.

'Silver Falls' is not frost-tolerant, so most gardeners grow it as an annual accent plant along walls or in containers. Gardeners in zones 10 and warmer can grow it as a perennial groundcover, but it may not do well in rainy climates.

Fertilizer

Because it is typically grown for just a few months as an annual during the warm season, this easygoing plant doesn't usually require fertilizer. Some gardeners choose to grow 'Silver Falls' as a houseplant, in which case you may want to apply a fertilizer formulated for houseplants during the growing season.

'Silver Falls' does not do well in soils with too much organic matter, which can lead to root rot. If you have a soil that is very poor in nutrients, you can work in a small amount of compost when planting.

Pruning

This plant does not require pruning, but you can give its runners a trim if you would like a bushier, more compact plant.

Propagating 'Silver Falls'

The variety 'Silver Falls' is a trademarked plant, which means that propagation is restricted. However, D. argentea seeds are available from a variety of seed companies.

How to Grow Silver Dichondra from Seed

D. argentea seeds can be started in a seed tray or directly in the ground, as long as the soil temperature is 70° Fahrenheit. Germination is best with daytime temperatures in the low to mid-70s and nighttime temperatures well above freezing. Follow these steps to successfully start your seeds:

  1. Prepare your seedbed with weed-free, well-drained, loamy, acidic soil or prepare a seed tray with good topsoil or potting soil.
  2. Press a cluster of three to four seeds into the soil without covering the seeds. Dichondra needs light to germinate. Space additional seed clusters 18 inches apart.
  3. Moisten the seed bed or seed tray with a fine spray mist and keep moist until germination in 7-14 days. Water regularly until established or ready for transplant.

Potting and Repotting 'Silver Falls'

'Silver Falls' is typically grown in containers as a spiller alongside other annuals. Make certain to use high-quality, fast-draining potting soil for your container. You can also grow this plant in a container of succulents with sandier soil.

Tuck 'Silver Falls' on the outside of the other plants in your container, leaving an inch or two of space from the edge. How much space you leave between 'Silver Falls' and other plants will depend on how large and vigorous the "thriller" and "filler" plants in your container get.

If you choose to transplant or repot this plant, follow the same directions, with the addition of giving long stems a trim before you place it in its new home.

Overwintering

You can overwinter 'Silver Falls' by bringing it indoors and setting it in bright light. Make certain it is in lightweight soil and allow the plant to dry out between waterings. Move the plant back outdoors in spring after there is no danger of frost.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases

'Silver Falls' is a mostly trouble-free plant. Overwatering can lead to root rot. If the leaves begin to turn yellow and brown and the soil is overly moist, allow it to dry out before watering again.

This plant's biggest pest, the dichondra flea beetle, has been a problem in western states. The larvae feed on roots, causing the plants to wither, while adults feed on the leaves. You can detect the presence of adult flea beetles by passing your hand over the leaves, which will cause them to jump. Bonide sells several products that are effective against flea beetles.

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