brass buttons- Leptinella squalida – good for ground cover in TO?

(Question)

I would like to plant ground cover between my paver stones. I have an east facing shaded backyard. Are brass buttons available anywhere in Toronto? I have Ajuga in my backyard already that is doing well, but I do like the brass buttons for interest. I’m attaching a photo that gives best image of my backyard. Would value your advice , thank you!!

(Answer)
Dear fellow gardener,
Leptinella squalida,¬†commonly known as Brass Buttons, is a member of the daisy family, Compositae, from New Zealand. Leptinella is an unusual groundcover with small fern-like leaves that never grow more than five centimetres (two inches) tall. The variety ‘Platt’s Black’ has dark purple, almost black, leaf colour. Brass Buttons is hardy from zones 4 to 10 and will grow in Toronto. When happy, Brass Buttons will form a low carpet that tolerates light foot traffic. Although the plant will grow in light shade, it prefers full sun in cooler climates. Plants will spread indefinitely by rhizomes/runners but are not tolerant of drought or compacted soil. You will have less success with this plant in clay soil. Adding up to ten percent organic matter to clay soil before planting and lightly topdressing once a year after planting with composted manure worked between the small leaves will help.
Leptinella is sometimes found at plant nurseries in Toronto but it is not a common plant. Contacting nurseries in advance and asking if the plant is in stock, or requesting the plant on special order, should enable you to find it.
If you are seeking a variety of ground covers for your shade garden, consider other native choices. Please
also see our TMG guide on Broadleaf Evergreen Groundcovers.
April 25, 2024