Ground cover plants cover the ground quickly, covering bare soil and suppressing weeds. They are naturally low-growing and form attractive mounds or carpets. They are often low-maintenance and usually evergreen.
10 ground cover plants for shade
Grow ground cover plants on steep banks or hard-to-access areas, under trees and shrubs, or at the front of a border.
Here are 10 ground cover plants to grow.
Stachys byzantina ‘Silver Carpet’
Furry, silver-grey leaves of lamb’s ears
Stachys byzantina ‘Silver Carpet’ is also known as lamb’s ears – its woolly grey leaves are incredibly tactile. It’s evergreen, which makes it very useful for providing interest at the front of a border all year round, and is relatively drought tolerant when established.
Height x spread: 15cm x 60cm.
Glossy leaves and small purple flowers of the periwinkle
Vinca minor is a tough, low-maintenance perennial that will cope with many conditions in the garden. It has glossy, green, evergreen leaves and star-shaped flowers that are white or mauve, depending on the variety, from spring to autumn.
H x s: 10cm x 50cm.
Bronze foliage and red berries of the checkerberry
Gaultheria procumbens is an evergreen shrub from North America. It forms a dense carpet of leaves that are red-edged in winter and complemented by red berries in winter. It’s a good choice for slopes and wildlife gardens. It likes moist, well-drained acidic soil.
H x s: 30cm x 150cm.
Rosa Flower Carpet Red Velvet (‘Noare’)
Red blooms of rose ‘Flower Carpet Red Velvet’
Rosa ‘Flower Carpet Red Velvet’ (Noare) is part of the ‘Flower Carpet’ series of ground cover roses. It’s smaller than some ground cover roses, forming more of a mound than a carpet – an unusual addition to the front of a border. Its single, red flowers have a red eye and are popular with bees. Grow in a sheltered site.
H x s: 75cm x 120cm.
Arches of deep-orange crocosmia blooms
Crocosomia (formerly montbretia) bear flowers in a range of fiery shades, from yellow to red in late summer. They form dense clumps – plant in swathes to create ground cover. Grow in a sheltered site and mulch in winter if you live in a cold area.
H x s: 80cm x 80cm.
Yellow helianthemum flowers
Helianthemums (rock rose) are clump forming, evergreen shrubs that bear pretty, papery flowers in a range of colours in early and midsummer. They look great at the front of a sunny border or in a rock or gravel garden. Plants may need protection harsh winters.
H x s: at least 30cm x 50cm, depending on variety.
Euonymus fortunei ‘Silver Queen’
Variegated spindle foliage
Euonymus fortunei ‘Silver Queen’ is a versatile, fresh-looking and evergreen shrub that has white- or pink-edged leaves, while ‘Harlequin’ has attractive variegation. They form an attractive mat and can also be encouraged to climb. Remove any non-variegated leaves that appear.
H x s: 10cm x 2.5m.
White and pale-pink hardy geranium flowers
Hardy geraniums, or cranesbills, are invaluable plants for ground cover in all kinds of gardens, whether cottage-style or more contemporary schemes. With blue, pink or mauve flowers, they are perfect for the front of a border and popular with bees.
H x s: 60cm x 90cm.
Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Star’
Low juniper foliage
Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Star’ is a dwarf juniper that forms a neat, rounded mound of eye-catching, steely blue, evergreen foliage. It’s great for growing as part of a shrubbery or mixed border, on a slope or as part of a rock garden.
H x s: 45cm x 100cm.
Erica x darleyensis ‘Furzey’
Lilac heather flowers
Erica x darleyensis ‘Furzey’ is a pretty heather that bears lilac flowers from December to May. It makes excellent ground cover on banks or under shrubs and trees. Grow on neutral or acid soil in a sunny spot.
H x s: 50cm x 100cm.
Small-leaved, grey-green hebe foliage
Hebe pinguifolia ‘Sutherlandii’ forms low, carpeting mounds of attractive, grey-green foliage. It bears white flowers from late spring to early summer, which are adored by bees. Grow in groups as ground cover. It’s tolerant of pollution and salty air.
H x s: 35cm x 100cm.