Susan Jasan, MS, ALSA, is a landscape designer in Northwest Arkansas. The primary focus of her work is custom residential designs. E-mail:


Brass Buttons
by Susan Jasan - posted 03/23/12

Leptinella squalida ‘Platt’s Black’ along a rock-lined pathway.

This great little ground cover is ideal for shady, low-traffic areas where you want something soft underfoot. It’s perfect for woodland pathways, rock gardens and especially as a textural contrast between flagstones or in tiny crevices. The foliage of Leptinella squalida is very delicate and is available in several forms, from a soft green with slight hints of bronze-black to the very dramatic ‘Platt’s Black’ with strong bronze-black tones. It also contrasts very well when used near either bright green or chartreuse plants. There’s even Leptinella gruveri, miniature brass buttons, with minute leaves that are almost indestructible.





Miniature brass buttons, Leptinella gruveri

Leptinella squalida ‘Platt’s Black’

Common Name: New Zealand brass buttons

Botanical Name: Leptinella squalida, formerly Cotula squalida, in the daisy family (Asteraceae).

Varieties/Cultivars to Look For: Brass buttons (Leptinella squalida), ‘Platt’s Black’ brass buttons (Leptinella squalida ‘Platt’s Black’) and miniature brass buttons (Leptinella gruveri)

Color: Foliage is feathery or fernlike, medium green with gray-green and slight black highlights with tiny golden-yellow button flowers. ‘Platt’s Black’ has darker distinctive bronze-black color foliage with bright green tips. Considered semi-evergreen, it may be fully evergreen if in a protected setting. True to its name it has a slight “brassy” color in winter.

Blooming Period: Though not typically grown for the bloom, small yellow button flowers appear from late spring to early summer with tiny capsular fruit to follow.

Zone(s): Leptinella squalida is hardy in Zones 5-9; L. gruveri is hardy in Zones 7-9 or in protected locations, possibly to Zone 5.

Type: Herbaceous perennial and rhizomatous ground cover forming a soft fuzzy mat

Size: Very low 2-inch height with 4- to 12-inch spread

Exposure: Full shade to part shade

When to Plant: Best planted in spring, although it also can be planted in fall. Divide in spring or fall by tearing apart into smaller pieces.

How to Plant: Readily available in 4-inch pots, sometimes 1-gallon containers. Plant 8 inches on center for faster coverage.

Soil: Acidic soils preferred, though tolerates a wide range of soil pH. Likes moist but well-drained loamy soils, rich in organic matter. It tolerates a wide range of conditions but beware – it does not like compacted soils.

Watering: Medium. Keep moist during warmer weather, though it likes to dry out very slightly between waterings. Farther south it will prefer extra moisture, especially during extreme heat and drought. Drought tolerant once well established. It may go dormant in severe heat, but will typically green-up once moderate temperatures resume.

When to Prune: Low maintenance. No pruning required. Can mow off old blooms if desired.

When to Fertilize: No fertilization required until well established.

In Your Landscape: Can be used in rock gardens, between flagstones on walkways, as a ground cover or as a fun contrast in containers. Can also be used as a turf substitute in shady, low-traffic areas. It’s great in woodlands and is even deer resistant!



(From Arkansas Gardener Volume XI Issue IV. Photos courtesy of Susan Jasan.)


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