Ground cover plants are invaluable in the garden. They make a valuable foil for larger plants, add colour to the gaps between shrubs and perennials, and help prevent weeds from colonising bare soil.
Ground cover plants are particularly useful in shady parts of the garden, where other plants struggle to grow. Areas beneath trees and shrubs are often difficult to plant up as the soil is so dry, but there are some ground cover options that can fit the bill.
More on gardening in shade:
Discover seven flowering ground cover plants for shade, below.
Ajuga ‘Black Scallop’
Purple-bronze leaves of ajuga ‘Black Scallop’
This spreading perennial is the perfect low-maintenance ground cover plant, with attractive foliage that adds rich, glossy colour to borders. ‘Black Scallop’ also sends up short spikes of dark blue flowers from April to June. Partial to full shade is ideal for ajugas.
Elephants ears, Bergenia x schmidtii
Large oval leaves and pink flower clusters of bergenia
This bergenia thrives in deep to partial shade and tolerates cold winds. It bears clusters of cup-shaped, pink flowers through April to May and its large glossy evergreen leaves develop a maroon tint in winter.
Jagged leaves and fluffy cream flower spikes of tiarella
Partial to full shade is best for these pretty perennials. Plant in groups to get maximum impact from the frothy flower spikes, which appear from May to July. It also offers bronze leaves in autumn. Useful under trees, tiarellas need little attention once established.
Vivid-blue brunnera flowers
Reliably tough, even in poor soil, brunneras are perennials with a daintier side, with pretty forget-me-not flowers in spring. Find a partially-shaded spot and give it moist but well-drained soil. ‘Jack Frost’ has striking silver leaves with green veins.
Pinky-blue forget-me-knots along the bottom of a fence
This delightful, long-flowering favourite is great for filling gaps between perennials from April to June. Myosotis is easy to grow and self-seeds readily, even in dappled shade beneath deciduous trees.
Purple-pink foliage of heuchera ‘Sugar Plum’
The eye-catching foliage of heucheras and heucherellas creates year-round interest at the front of borders. Choose from the huge range of leaf shapes, colours and patterns, and plant in groups for impact. Partial shade is best.
Glossy, serrated pachysandra leaves
This evergreen perennial with glossy foliage will carpet the ground in even the most difficult of dry, shady spots and provide flowers from May to June. If you have dense, overhanging trees where nothing else will grow, try pachysandra.