Perennial peanut grass is a perennial flowering evergreen ground cover that thrives in warm climates.
Originally published October 2015; this post has been updated.
When we moved into our new place, my son was excited to find that there was perennial peanut grass growing. He’d seen it in use at a farm he worked on and was a big fan. It was new to me, but I’m always up for learning about a new plant.
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Perennial peanut (Arachis) is an evergreen, low-growing groundcover. There are different varieties; some spread underground via rhizomes, others creep along the ground and root at their nodes.
The common name, perennial peanut, is used for a number of different cultivars. If you’re looking for a specific type, be sure to ask for it by it’s Latin name to be sure you’re getting what you want.
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Reasons to love Perennial Peanut Grass
- It’s a pretty, perennial flowering ground cover.
- It out-competes less desirable grasses and weeds.
- It’s a nitrogen fixer.
- Perennial Peanut is resistant to pests.
- It can be used as forage for livestock. (My bunnies love it.)
- The flowers are edible.
- It shades the ground, helping to hold moisture in.
- It’s drought tolerant.
- It’s great for erosion control.
It makes me think about when I worked in a retail nursery many years ago. Customers would come in asking for an alternative to grass lawn in an effort to cut back on water usage and general maintenance. There were several options to offer — until they said they also wanted to use the area like they would a lawn. That made it harder.
I’ve been observing it for more than a year now, and I have to say: Perennial peanut would have been a great solution.
We have peanut grass growing in several areas. A good portion of the ground in our orchard is covered with it. That’s also where our chickens range, and in spite of two dozen hens tromping on it (and nibbling on it) every day, it remains thick and lush.
Perennial peanut grass handles human foot traffic well, too. Where this evergreen ground cover is mowed, it’s nice for walking on. It’s also taken over a couple of wilder areas where we don’t mow. In those areas, it’s close to a foot high, but has prevented the aggressive weeds we have here from taking root.
(Note: There are different varieties of perennial peanut grass that may vary in height. I’m not sure what specific variety we have.)
Of course, the biggest drawback to perennial peanut grass is the fact that it’s only an evergreen ground cover in frost-free climates.
In areas where it gets frosty but the rhizomes don’t freeze, it dies down for winter and sprouts back as the weather warms. Some people seed an annual rye grass over perennial peanut grass for green during the winter months.
Propagation of perennial peanut grass is generally done by transplanting the rhizomes or via cuttings.
It’s easy to dig a shovel full out of the center of the peanut grass and transplant to another location. Once it takes root, it will start spreading, slowly taking over the area, creating a pretty evergreen ground cover.
Just be aware that it can creep into areas where you don’t necessarily want it. Peanut grass is very deep rooted and once it has become situated, removing it is no easy task. Plant it where you’re certain you want it for years to come!
Avoid planting it near cultivated vegetable beds, as it can spread into those spaces easily.