During a time where everything has a dupe when it comes to gardening, you are not deprived of alternatives. Ruschia Lineolata, also known as Dwarf Carpet of Stars, is a more resilient, low-maintenance, tolerant alternative to regular grass.
The Dwarf Carpet is succulent, meaning that it is a xerophyte with thick leaves that are fleshy and retain a lot of water. These plants are especially ideal for environments and habitats like desserts and drought-struck lands that do not have a lot of water available all the time.
Ruschia Lineolata grass, in particular, has red stems and grows in a criss-cross pattern, covering the ground in a green, dense mat of grass, looking just as fresh and beautiful as your traditional lawn.
The best thing about it is that it is not only a prettier alternative; it is also a healthier, more sustainable landscape option. After all, in 2020, that is what we are all looking for.
From the family of Aizoaceae, Ruschia is a genus found in the drier parts of South Africa.
It was named Ruschia after a farmer from Namibia in the 1900s, whose name was Ernst Julius Rusch.
It has some rather typical features that include small leaves that are triangular and 3-sided and may have toothy margins to minimize water loss and also protect the plant against grazing animals. The leaves also have an interesting pattern of transparent dots on them, which sets them apart from most of the other leaves. The plant may also grow small white or pink flowers that are sweet-scented and open during the day. These may grow throughout the year but are mostly found blooming in spring and autumn.
Its distinguishing feature, however, is its seed capsules. These are valvular and open and close to the humidity around them (they are hygrochastic). These seeds have a closing body that pulls them closed to prevent them from completely drying out and also opens them up again. They also have a partially covering membrane that prevents them from being completely washed away.
When it rains, the valves open, and the seeds are exposed. Rain droplets push these seeds off from the plant and they drop onto the ground.
Ruschia has over 200 different species, all of which are found in and along with Namibia and South Africa. Ruschia Lineolata is one of these many species.
Classification of Ruschia Nana
- Family: Aizoaceae
- Subfamily: Ruschioideae
- Genus: Ruschia
Common Names of Ruschia Nana
- Carpet of stars
- Mesembryanthemum lineolatum
- Dwarf Carpet of Stars Nana (The plant, Ruschia Lineolata, has a dwarf variety called Ruschia Nana. Hence the plant is also known as Dwarf Carpet of Stars Nana)
Dwarf Carpet of Stars Origin
The plant, Dwarf Carpet of Stars, is believed to originate from the Western Cape Province of South Africa. To be even more precise, it grows in the district of Robertson and Barrydale, Renosterveld, and the communities of succulent Karoo plant. It is often found growing along the dry stream beds. Because they are native to dry environments, they are accustomed to live in areas of drought and excessive heat. They are tolerant of fires, frost, and heavy winds.
Structure and Features
Texture and density
The plant is dense and has a rubbery texture even though it feels soft to the touch. It has a tough, versatile exterior and a woody root system.
The plant stays green and fresh in all seasons of the year. Regular grass tends to turn yellow during fall, snow, and drought, whereas the Dwarf Carpet of Stars stays the same throughout the year. This makes it an excellent choice to be used for commercial display.
The average height of this plant is 1-2 inches and does not grow any taller than that. However, it spreads as far as 2 feet and has leaves as long as 0.5 inches. The fact that it lacks the element of height is only beneficial to everyone because that means it never requires any mowing and grooming.
As compared to the regular grass, the Dwarf Carpet of Stars grows much faster and spreads much wider. If planted at a distance of at least 6 inches and given the proper care, it should grow into a complete carpet in 3 to 5 months.
It can tolerate temperatures as low as 20 F and as high as 120 F. This is one of the reasons why it stays green throughout the year, in every climate, in every area of the world.
It is surprising since it is grass we are talking about, but this succulent does bloom in Spring. It grows beautiful small pink flowers with white stripes, giving an actual feel of “A Carpet of Stars”.
It is extremely drought resistant. It requires a very little amount of water and can be perfect for areas that are prone to droughts and people who are away very often and cannot water their grass regularly. This also means that watering it will not be a hectic job if you are a busy person.
Pressure and Erosion Tolerance
Dwarf Carpet of Stars is suitable to be used on pathways and footways because it can tolerate high levels of pressure (by people and traffic) and erosion.
Pests and diseases are not a problem with this plant. As long as it is appropriately watered and taken care of, you and your other plants are safe.
As established, the grass is extremely low maintenance with a high-temperature tolerance, low water needs, and a height as short as 2 inches which do not need regular trimming. Dwarf Carpet of Stars’ care is an extremely easy job and so, it is a perfect replacement for your lawn and garden.
Dwarf Carpet of Stars Growth Zone
The best Dwarf Carpet of Stars growth zones for its proper growth is 9a to 11b with an ideal temperature of 20 °F to 50 °F (-6.6 ºC to 10 ºC).
The grass is not toxic if ingested. It is not dangerous to touch either. Instead, it is soft and cushiony to the feet and completely safe for domestic use in houses, lawns, and public areas.
The Dwarf Carpet is very durable once matured. The plant remains attractive for about 3 to 4 years and then may turn woody and need replacement.
The plant comes in various designs such as Meadow, Mediterranean, Ranch, Seascape, and Spanish.
Dwarf Carpet of Stars Care
Because it is succulent and drought resistant, the plant only needs to be watered according to its age, soil, and climate. As the plant grows, its water needs become as small as once a week. More water is needed when the plant is young and lives in hot, windy climates.
Even though a Ruschia Lineolata can grow in a variety of soil types, a clean, healthy, rich soil will be optimum for best growth. It prefers a well-drained soil of neutral pH. If the soil is too sandy, add some organic matter to create the desired texture and increase its capacity to hold water.
If the soil is too heavy, loosen the top 4 inches and, again, add some of the organic matter to it. This will improve aeration as well as drainage.
When it comes to light, a Ruschia can grow in bright lights as well as fairly shaded areas. This makes it easy to grow, both, outdoors as well as indoors
Regarding temperature, the plant grows best at an optimum temperature that is not too hot or too cold. Bright, hot summer days are especially its favorite.
Dwarf Carpet of Stars Cultivation
The best time to cultivate a Dwarf Carpet is from spring up until early autumn in September. Plants that are cultivated in this period grow healthier and faster.
First, choose a spot that has a lot of sunlight and is not exposed to wind. Also, check the soil for any weeds or bugs before planting the plugs. If found, remove it by hand. Once matured, the plant itself provides excellent resistance to weed and pests. However, rabbits, dogs, and pets can be a cause of harm to the plugs while they’re growing. If necessary, attach a fence around the planted plugs for extra protection.
Before cultivation, proper preparation of the soil is necessary. Check the soil for optimum, suitable physical characteristics as mentioned earlier. Make changes to it as needed to create the perfect soil texture and then proceed to the plantation. Giving a few extra minutes of attention and preparation to the soil before you plant the plugs will save you and your plant from a lot of trouble later.
The way to cultivate this plant is in the form of plugs. Each one of these is watered adequately either manually or by being soaked in water in large containers, and planted at least 6 inches apart. The holes should be dug at least twice as wide and twice as deep as the plug. Make sure that you do not leave any air between the plug and the soil when you plant it. This can cause damage, drying, and death of the plant. The plug should be at the bottom of the hole and in direct contact with the soil underneath. Now loosely pack soil around the plug. There is no need for mulching.
Uses of a Dwarf Carpet of Stars
This type of grass can be easily displayed outdoors, in entries, lawns, patios, and gardens as well as the garage and sidewalks and pathways. Also, it can be a great choice for indoor gardens and decorations, for example in your balcony, the sunroom, terraces, and rooftops. Not only is it easy to grow in open spaces, but this plant can also grow in small spaces and containers as well. It can be used as filler, to make a border, and to attract butterflies and bees as well. It is also now being used around swimming pools and in walkways along with rocks. Because of its minimum water needs, resistance to erosion and limited growth habit, it can grow anywhere you want it to.
Week 1-4: As soon as you receive the plugs, water them. If they are under direct sunlight, water them twice a day. This is also a good time to add some fertilizer if your soil is not pre-fertilized.
Week 4-6: The roots should enter the garden soil by now and begin to get moisture from the soil directly.
Month 2-3: Instead of watering twice a day, water adequately twice or thrice a week, according to the location and the weather (more irrigation may be required in extremely hot or windy weather).
Month 3-5: By now the grass should be fully grown and green. You should now water the plant once a week thoroughly and even less during winters. However, these recommendations are only for ideal Ruschia plants. Requirements of each plant may vary according to the location, climate and soil it is planted in.
Some Common FAQs
Should I Mow Dwarf Carpet of Stars?
Since it only grows as high as 2 inches, it does not require a lot of grooming. Mowing and mulching are not required for this particular plant.
Should I Fertilize it?
Fertilization is required early in the growth phase of the plant right after you plant the plugs in the soil. As the plant grows, fertilization needs to decrease to a minimum and is only required once a year.
Why is My Dwarf Carpet Turning Yellow?
Yellow foliage is not normal. If your grass is turning yellow, monitor the soil. This is often caused by excessive watering or standing water. Bronze foliage represents dry plants or the need for fertilization. Cater to your plant according to its needs and it should be good as new again.
Is A Ruschia Lawn More or Less Economical Than A Regular Lawn?
If compared by costs, a Ruschia lawn will save you a large number of bucks in the short as well as the long run. It saves you the grooming costs, the watering costs as well as the fertilization costs. It will save you not only your money but also a lot of your time and effort. All this, and it will still look amazing!
Dwarf Carpet of Stars is a low-maintenance, high-quality, healthier alternative for regular grass. It grows faster and spreads more which makes it economical. Dwarf carpet of stars grows as much as 2 inches tall so it does not need a lot of mowing and has a high drought resistance so it does not need to be watered too often, which makes it easy to take care of. It is evergreen and does not fade its color in fall or drought, which makes it a better option for display. Overall, it is a preferred dupe to grass used for domestic as well as commercial uses, nowadays.