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Groundcovers List

(Click the name of the groundcover to visit the full library entry)

AJUGA Ajuga reptens 3 - 6” evergreen groundcover for sun to part shade. Low-growing, spreads by runners. Bronzy-purple leaves and purple flowers on short stalks. Native to Europe. Needs well-prepared beds with good drainage. Fairly high water and fertilizer requirements. Groundcover for small areas. Nematodes are a real problem. Do not invest much money in this plant. Hardiness Zones 3 - 9.

ARDISIA (Japanese ardisia) Ardisia japonica Evergreen groundcover for morning sun to partial shade. Small white flowers in clusters in fall, followed by red berries from fall through winter. Not cold hardy in Northern areas. Dies to the ground but usually returns in the spring. Slow-growing, moisture-loving, clumping ground cover. Spread by underground stems. Will freeze below 15 degrees. ​Zones 8 - 9.

ASIAN JASMINE Trachelospermum asiaticum Evergreen groundcover for sun to shade, Ht. 6 - 12". Dense, low growing groundcover that will climb but not readily. Small oval leaves, no flowers. Native to Japan and Korea. Needs moist, well-drained, well-prepared soil for establishment. Once established, fairly drought tolerant. Cut down by mowing at highest setting in late winter – again in July if wanted. Extreme winters can severely damage or kill this plant. Average winters will often burn the foliage brown, but recovers in spring. Zones 7 - 11. 

CREEPING CHARLIE Glechoma hederacea Also called gill ivy and ground ivy, this is a most carefree but invasive groundcover. It has rounded leaves, grows easily in any soil in shade. Small purple flowers in spring. If considered a weed, it is easy to kill out with any of the organic herbicides. Zones 4 - 9.

CREEPING THYME Thymus spp. Perennial evergreen herb groundcover for full sun. Creeping thyme grows 3" - 12" and spreads 18" - 36". Common thyme grows 15" - 18". Tiny star-like flowers bloom throughout the spring and summer in shades from crimson to pink or white. Small 1/8" - 1/4" long, slightly pointed highly aromatic leaves ranging from glossy dark green to wooly silver or variegated green and gold. Woody stems. Zones 4 - 9.

DICHONDRA Dichondra micrantha I like this plant more than grass in certain situations. Perennial lawn plant or ground cover. Very low growing, spreads by runners. Foliage looks like tiny lily pads. Likes partial to heavy shade and moist soil. Excellent between stepping stones. Sometimes used as turf. Many people don’t understand that dichondra is a beautiful ground cover instead of a noxious weed to be sprayed with toxic herbicides. Can be killed with broadleaf herbicides, but why? If you don’t like it, let the soil dry out more between watering. Sometimes sold as Dichondra carolinensis or Dichondra repens. Dichondra is often confused with dollarweed which has larger, more vertical growing and shiny leaves. Both plants can be controlled with Agralawn Crabgrass Killer. Zones 7 - 11.

ENGLISH IVY Hedera helix Evergreen Vine for shade to part shade. Relatively fast growing vine for north exposure or other shady spot. Excellent groundcover for shade or partial shade. Will climb any surface. Needs good bed preparation, good drainage and mulch for establishment. ‘Needlepoint’ and ‘Hahns’ ivy are smaller leafed cultivars. Zones 4 - 8.

FROGFRUIT Phyla nodiflora Perennial herb, Semi-evergreen. Height: 3-6 inches Leaf: Green, with reddish or purplish tinge in cold winters. Bloom Color: White flowers May- Oct. Dormant during hard winters.

GILL IVY Glechoma hederacea Also called creeping Charlie and ground ivy, this is a most carefree but invasive groundcover. It has rounded leaves, grows easily in any soil in shade. Small purple flowers in spring. If considered a weed, it is easy to kill out with any of the organic herbicides. Zones 4 - 9.
HOUTTUYNIA (Hootenanny Plant) Houttuynia cordata ‘Variegata’ Perennial groundcover for sun or shade. Height 1’ Spacing 1 - 2’. Colorful groundcover that spreads aggressively and has yellow, rosy and red foliage color in full sun. Bruised foliage smells like citrus. Native to Japan. Dies completely away in harsh winters. Can take any soil condition but does best in wet or boggy soil. Groundcover for poorly drained areas. Needs to be contained. Is very invasive. Zones 4 - 11.

HORSEHERB Calyptocarpus vialis Height 8 - 10” Spread 18 - 36” Spacing 12 - 15” Deciduous to semi-evergreen groundcover for shade to part shade. Ever blooming tiny yellow flowers. Very easy to grow in any soil. Evergreen in warmer climates. Freezes to the ground in the northern areas but returns each spring. Drought tolerant and pest free. Should be used more. Looks terrific when planted with wild violets. Some people still consider it a weed - that’s too bad.
LAMIUM (spotted dead nettle) Lamium maculatum ‘Variegatum  Perennial groundcover for shade or part shade. Low-growing, silvery-leafed, spreads easily. Flowers purple, red, or white in summer. soil. Moderate water and fertilizer. Needs afternoon shade. Does best in moist soil. Fairly carefree. ‘White Nancy’ is a nice white cultivar. Several other improved cultivars exist. Zones 4 - 8.
LIRIOPE (Monkey grass, Lilyturf) Liriope muscari Evergreen groundcover  for sun or shade. Grasslike clumps spread by underground stems to form solid mass planting. Has primarily one flush of growth in the spring. Blue flowers on stalks in early summer. Easy to grow in well-prepared beds that drain well. Does best in shade or partial shade. Mow or clip down to 3” in late winter just before the new spring growth. Easy to divide and transplant anytime. Zones 6 - 10.

MONEYWORT Lysimachia nummularia Evergreen groundcover for shade or part shade. Very low-growing, soft round leaves, spreads by runners. Roots easily where stem touches ground. Grows best in shade or part shade in moist, well-prepared beds. Groundcover for small shady places. Starts easily from broken pieces in areas where it may not be wanted. Zones 3 - 9.
OPHIOPOGON (Mondograss) Ophiopogon japonicas Evergreen low-growing, grasslike groundcover for shade or part shade. Ht. 8″ - 10″ Spacing 9″ Grows in clumps but spreads by rhizomes to form solid mass. Best in shade or partial shade but will grow in sun. Needs even moisture and regular fertilization. Mow down once a year in late winter just before the new growth breaks. A dwarf form, O. japonicus ‘Nana,’ is very compact, dark green, and slow-growing. It should be planted at least 6″ on center. A black form exists that is expensive and extremely slow-growing. Native to Japan and Korea. Zones 5 - 10.
PACHYSANDRA (Japanese spurge) Pachysandra terminalis Low-growing evergreen 6″ - 8″ high groundcover for shade. Spacing 9″ - 12″, spreads by underground stems (rhizomes). Does best in highly organic soils in deep shade. Plant in well-prepared, shaded areas. Needs lots of organic material, good drainage, ample water and fertilizer. Good for small areas in heavy shade, interesting foliage texture. Summer heat. Also doesn’t like alkaline soils. Native to Japan. Zones 4 - 7.

PERSIAN IVY Hedera colchica is a wonderful evergreen groundcover for shady to areas. It is just as cold tolerant as English Ivy but much less susceptible to fungal leaf spot. It is also more drought tolerant than English ivy. Not as easy to find in nurseries as English ivy. One of my favorite groundcovers. Hopefully the other landscape architects will start specifying it. Must have shade and organic management. Zones 6 - 9.
POTENTILLA Potentilla verna Evergreen groundcover for sun or shade. Height 2″ - 6″ Spacing 6" - 9“ Light-textured, low-growing groundcover. Resembles tiny strawberry plants. Small yellow flowers in summer. Partial shade is best, any soil, but responds to well-prepared and well-drained beds. Moderate water and fertilizer needs. Groundcover for small to medium size areas. Red spider, rust. Plant gets a little weedy. Avoid using in large areas. Native to Europe. Zones 3 - 7.

PURPLE WINTERCREEPER Euonymus fortunei  ‘Coloratus’   Evergreen groundcover for sun to part shade. Height 8" - 12”  Spacing 12” Spreads by runners; reddish fall color that lasts through winter. Sun or partial shade is best exposure. Moderate water and fertilization. Establishes fast if planted properly with mulch applied after planting. Well-drained, well-prepared beds. Moderate water and fertilization requirements. Native to China. Zones 4 - 9.
SEDUM Sedum spp.  Evergreen for sun to part shade. Height 2” - 6” Spread 8” - 24” Spacing 6" - 9” White, pink, rose, yellow, or red flowers. Finely textured, succulent groundcover. Easily damaged by foot traffic or pets when the succulent leaves and stems are crushed. Native to Europe and Asia. Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ is a tall growing perennial with dramatic flowers that are white as they start developing in the summer and end up red in the fall. S. ‘Ruby Glow’ is lower growing and blooms all summer. Easy, any soil, prefers well-prepared and drained beds. Best exposure is partial shade. Groundcover for small areas, Oriental gardens, rock gardens, stone walls and small accent areas. At least one species for every zone.
VINCA Vinca major (minor) Evergreen groundcover for shade or part shade - groundcover . 6" - 18“ Height 12“ spacing. Vinca major sometimes looks pretty ratty in late summer. Like most plants it does far better under an organic program. Coarse groundcover for large areas in shade. Spreads quickly and has blue flowers in late spring. Relatively drought tolerant once established. Good plant for a naturally wooded area. V. major is the large-leafed, more commonly used variety. V. minor has smaller, shinier leaves, is more refined in appearance, and can tolerate more sun. Zones 4 - 9.
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