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Installation and Maintenance

Kurapia [Phyla (Phyla) nodiflora (L.) E. Greene] is a low growing, herbaceous, perennial dicot groundcover belonging to the Verbenaceae or Verbena family. Although the species is either native or naturalized to California, Kurapia is a sterile, non-invasive, cultivar from Japan, which is propagated vegetatively by plugs or creeping stems (stolons) only. Kurapia’s dense canopy and deep root system provide excellent drought tolerance and soil stabilization even on steep slopes. It is also tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions including salinity, but generally prefers sandy, well-drained soils. Kurapia reaches a maximum height of 3 to 6 inches and produces numerous small, white flowers from spring to late summer. As a result, mowing is not required. However, regular mowing with a rotary or reel mower as low as 2 inches can be used to minimize flowering. Kurapia can tolerate partial shade and light traffic when maintained either non-mowed or mowed similar to a lawn; however, it is not recommended for use under intensive, concentrated traffic. Kurapia is adapted to climate zones of 7b and higher. In regions where average daily temperatures remain above 45 °F, Kurapia will stay evergreen; however, growth will gradually decrease and enter dormancy when average daily temperatures fall to around 38 °F. Kurapia has been known to survive temperatures as low as 13 °F. These temperatures are provided as estimates, as Kurapia greenness, dormancy, and survival will depend upon specific location and environmental factors.

Kurapia is available in greenhouse flats that contain 72 plugs each. Please see the following Table for information on the number of plugs/flats needed to establish your location. The closer plugs are spaced during planting, the more rapidly the area will be established with less weed pressure. We usually recommend spacing Kurapia plugs on 18” centers, which should cover fully in approx. 3 growing months. Sloped areas also require closer (≤15 inches) spacing to minimize soil erosion during establishment.

(inches on center)
Your Area (ft2) x Factor
Below = Number of Kurapia Plugs Needed*
Number of Kurapia Plugs Needed*
per 1,000 ft2
18 0.44 444
15 0.64 640
12 1.00 1,000
9 1.78 1,780
6 4.00 4,000

*Divide by 72 to determine number of flats needed.

Kurapia can be installed from March to September depending on location and weather patterns in a given year. Excessively cool temperatures in spring or warm temperatures in summer can hinder establishment. Therefore, best results are usually achieved with plantings in April to June when temperatures are usually more moderate. Complete establishment of Kurapia usually occurs in 1.5 to 3 months depending upon spacing of plugs and ideal growing conditions.
When you receive Kurapia, open the box and unpack the trays as soon as possible. Place the trays unstacked in an area protected from the wind and direct sun. Keep the plugs moistened until ready to install. Avoid delays in installation longer than one week.
Kurapia prefers sandy or sandy loam soils. Heavier clay or subsurface soils should be properly amended or capped with sand or suitable soil to ensure adequate aeration and drainage. Prior to planting, weeds and other undesirable vegetation should be controlled with repeat applications of a non-selective herbicide such as glyphosate (Roundup, etc.).

Keep Kurapia moist and away from direct sunlight until it is installed. Using spacing specified in the Table above, dig a hole that is twice the diameter and depth of the Kurapia plug. This is very important. Chance of survival will be reduced if the hole is not large enough to cover whole plug. Place the plug into the hole and pack the loosened soil around the plug, exposing only a small portion (ca. 25%) of leaves and stems to sunlight. See image below. This will help protect the small plug from direct sunlight and desiccation during establishment. Kurapia stems will creep out from soil. Step over the newly planted plug to ensure good contact with soil and repeat for all plugs.

Kurapia Plug
Irrigate Kurapia plugs lightly and frequently to maintain moist soil while preventing washing away of soil packed around each plug, beginning immediately after installation and until active shoot growth is evident (approx. 2 to 3 weeks). Although Kurapia is tolerant of drought and low water use, the establishment period is not the time to withhold water. After about one month, soak the area once or twice per week to help expedite complete Kurapia cover. Additional irrigation may be required on sandy soil and in full sunlight during warm, dry, and windy conditions. Once fully established, Kurapia has a very deep root system that can reach down 5 to 10 feet below the soil surface. Research at the University of California, Riverside demonstrated that mature Kurapia can be maintained similar to warm-season turfgrasses at 60% replacement of reference evapotranspiration (ETo) in warmer inland climates and likely as low as 40% to 50% ETo in cooler, coastal regions during the growing season. Irrigation should be scheduled 1 to 3 times per week to wet all or most of the root zone while minimizing runoff. Irrigation usually is not necessary during winter dormancy, which is typically accompanied by rainfall in California. However, weekly or bi-weekly irrigation during extended drought or dry periods may help winter color retention of Kurapia. Remember that Kurapia or any plant material will look only as good (or bad) as the irrigation system used to distribute water. Avoid over-irrigation to compensate for dry areas caused by poor sprinkler distribution, clogged nozzles, or leaks in the irrigation system.
Fertilization of Kurapia is most important during establishment to expedite cover. Once active shoot growth of the newly planted plugs is evident, apply a complete (N-P2O5-K2O) granular fertilizer at a rate of ½lb N per 1,000 ft² every two weeks until full cover is achieved. If practicable, spot sprinkling the appropriate dosage of fertilizer granules on or around Kurapia plugs will save fertilizer and minimize potential for nutrient runoff and weed invasion from granules that contact bare soil in between plugs. Alternatively, fertilizer can be applied in a liquid form during irrigation using Miracle-Gro© LiquaFeed ½ or similar product every 7 to 14 days as directed on the label. Once Kurapia is fully established, subsequent fertilization should not be necessary and, if so, only once annually in spring (growth and flowering) or fall (color retention) at ½ to 1 lb N per 1,000 ft². Addition of fertilizer containing phosphorus may enhance flowering.
Kurapia is a sterile cultivar of Phyla (Phyla) nodiflora, which is native to California. However, because it is considered a minor plant, this species is not likely to be found on herbicide labels. UC Riverside and Cal Poly SLO jointly studied herbicide tolerancy to Kurapia. Please refer to study result. The user should assume all risks and liability associated with herbicide and other pesticide usage on Kurapia. Always read and follow directions on the pesticide label and treat a small area of Kurapia first at rates suggested for other groundcovers or similar broadleaf species to prevent extensive damage or loss.
Diseases, insects, or other pests are not known to affect Kurapia, especially in a dry climate like California.
Kurapia is low growing and no mowing is necessary if a natural looking groundcover is desired. However, mowing 1 to 2 times per month at 2 to 3 inches during the growing season can produce a turf-like appearance and minimize flower production and associated bee activity. Mowing will also encourage Kurapia to spread by putting out more runners during establishment. Mowing during winter or early spring can remove dormant leaves and stems and expose underlying green tissue. However, without mowing green up in spring will resume when temperatures are suitable for active shoot growth. Disposal of clippings is only necessary when excessive debris remains after mowing. Aside from mowing, lateral spread of Kurapia may need to be controlled with mechanical or chemical (non-selective herbicide) trimming.

Enjoy Your Kurapia!