Creeping mazus (Mazus reptans) is a fast-spreading, semi-evergreen perennial that works well as a ground cover in USDA zones 5 to 8. In warmer climates, the dense, lush foliage remains green throughout the year, and it features clusters of beautiful little purple-blue flowers that blossom in late spring and summer. The tiny thumbnail-sized flowers form a dense mat and can be mowed in much the same way as turf grass.
Creeping mazus is usually planted from potted nursery starts or from root divisions in the spring. It is a fast-growing plant that will quickly fill in to create a uniform ground cover.
|Common Name||Creeping mazus|
|Botanical Name||Mazus reptans or Mazus miquelii|
|Plant Type||Herbaceous perennial|
|Mature Size||2–3 in. tall, 6–12 in. wide|
|Sun Exposure||Full, partial|
|Soil Type||Moist, well drained|
|Soil pH||Acidic to alkaline (5.5–8.0)|
|Flower Color||White to blue-violet|
|Hardiness Zones||5–8 (USDA)|
|Native Area||Central Asia (Himalayas)|
Creeping Mazus Care
Creeping mazus prefers relatively moist fertile soil in a full-sun location, but it is an adaptable plant that tolerates almost any soil type and will grow adequately in partial shade. In shady conditions, it will grow more slowly with fewer flowers.
Creeping mazus sees rapid growth in full sun or partial shade positions. In very hot regions, a location that is shaded during the peak of the afternoon is best.
Creeping mazus prefers fertile, moist, loamy soil, but it is a robust species that tolerates a variety of soil types. If the soil is too hard-packed, the delicate rooting system will struggle to become established. It grows equally well in acidic, neutral, and alkaline soils. With soils that are too dry, adding mulch will help with moisture retention.
This plant prefers to remain moist but not constantly wet. Make sure it isn't exposed to over-watering, as standing water will cause root rot. Weekly watering, especially in hot and dry conditions will ensure your creeping mazus continues to flourish. If it stays dry too long, the foliage will begin to wilt and die.
Temperature and Humidity
Creeping mazus copes well across a wide range of temperatures and is reliably hardy in USDA zones 5 to 8. It prefers a warm and moist environment, and in warmer climates it is evergreen. In colder zones, the foliage may turn red and go dormant in the winter months. Hard frost may kill individual plants, though a colony usually fills in again when mild spring weather returns.
You won't have to worry about feeding creeping mazus if it's planted in a rich and fertile soil. An annual light feeding of a slow-release variety in the spring, however, could promote better growth for plants that are in dry, poor-quality soil.
Types of Creeping Mazus
Mazus reptans has no widely available named cultivars—the species type is the one normally sold in the horticulture trade. However, there is a related species, Mazus miquelli, that is also sometimes known by the common name creeping mazus. However, M. miquelli, a native to Japan and China, is considered an invasive plant in the Northeast U.S., and it is rarely, if ever, deliberately used as a landscape plant.
Although pruning is not required, creeping mazus responds well to shearing with a mower when used as a replacement for turf grass in ground-cover situations.
Propagating Creeping Mazus
Creeping mazus spreads naturally as its roaming stems root themselves in soil. It is an easy matter to dig up some of these offshoots and transplant them. Here's how:
- In spring after an established plant is actively growing, use a sharp knife or trowel to separate an offshoot stem that has rooted itself and lift it free of the mother plant.
- Immediately plant the offshoot in a new garden location and water it well. If planting with the intent of creating a new ground cover, space the plants 8 to 12 inches apart, as they will quickly spread to fill the space.
How to Grow Creeping Mazus From Seed
Creeping mazus spreads so quickly that it's generally planted via nursery seedling flats, with plants spaced 8 to 12 inches apart and then allowed to fill in to create a carpet of greenery. However, if you are covering large areas with creeping mazus, it is possible to plant from bulk seeds sown over the area, much the way lawn seed is sown. However, if you're seeding an area previously covered with grass, make sure to remove as much grass as possible, including the roots. This will give creeping mazus the best chance of thriving, as it can't outcompete the tenacious roots of turfgrasses.
Allow a decent amount of space between sown seeds, too. Remember, this plant has a fast-spreading, close-to-the-surface, sprawling root system. You don't want the area to become overcrowded, as this can impact growth.
Potting and Repotting Creeping Mazus
Although it's not a common way to grow creeping mazus, this plant can be grown in containers filled with standard potting mix. The low-growing trailing habit can make it a good "spiller" plant for the edges of a mixed container garden. A container of any type will do, provided it is well draining.
This plant generally requires no special winter preparation, though gardeners in colder zones may find that a layer of leaf mulch over the plants will prevent winter kill. Any covering should be raked off the plants as soon as the weather warms in the spring.
Common Pests and Plant Diseases
Creeping mazus is not a victim of any common serious pests or diseases, but it can be subject to damage from slugs and snails. These pests are best handled by removing them by hand, or with snail/slug baits placed in the garden.
How to Get Creeping Mazus to Bloom
It's rare for creeping mazus to withhold blooms during its normal flowering period, late spring though mid-summer. If it does not bloom adequately, it may be because it is not getting enough sunlight or water—both of which are necessary for profuse blooming. If both these cultural needs are adequate, then feeding the plant with balanced fertilizer may give the plants a needed nutritional boost.
An old, overgrown patch of creeping mazus may stop blooming because the plants become too crowded. In this case, rejuvenate the colony by digging up the plants, dividing the roots, and replanting the pieces 8 to 12 inches apart. The colony usually responds quickly with vigorous growth and ample flowering.
Common Problems With Creeping Mazus
There are very few cultural problems with creeping mazus if it's grown in its established hardiness range, but occasionally you may notice brown patches appearing in the otherwise uniform carpet of green. In the colder end of the hardiness range, this can be a symptom of winter kill caused by hard frost. Unless the frost is very hard and prolonged, winter kill usually corrects itself in the spring as surrounding plants fill in to replace dead patches.
Brown patches can also be caused by soil that is too dry. Creeping mazus plants like plenty of moisture, and may die back if allowed to become too dry during hot months.
How is this plant best used in the landscape?
Creeping mazus is a popular aground cover alternative in locations that are too moist for turfgrass to grow well—such as the banks along streams or water gardens. It also works well to fill in gaps in between flagstones or walls, and it is a favored addition in rock gardens, where it helps reduce weed growth. This species also looks lovely dangling over the edges of hanging baskets or containers.
Is there a similar plant that works well in colder zones?
Scotch moss can be a good alternative to creeping mazus for zones 3 and 4. It is a good plant for moist areas, and it accepts a fair amount of foot traffic without incurring permanent damage.
How do I replace a turf grass lawn with creeping mazus?
Creeping mazus cannot simply be overseeded in a turf grass lawn, as turf grasses are considerably more aggressive and will win the rooting battle. If you do want to replace an area of turf grass, you must first kill off or remove all the grass. Turf grass can be removed with a sharp, flat shovel, but a more effective method is to kill it off with glyphosate herbicide before replanting with creeping mazus.