All About The Landscape Daily

Plants That Cover The Ground And Provide Color

Sep 7

Perennials like this are ideal for covering a little or big space

For the color-obsessed gardener, the term "ground cover" conjures up visions of bland, leafy green mats that serve their purpose but fail to excite. In contrast, many sprawling perennials do an excellent job of conserving the soil and crowding out weeds while also offering a profusion of gorgeous blooms. Since a small number of these low-maintenance perennials may cover a considerable area, they are a great choice for newly created gardens on a budget. By tying together smaller beds of shrubs with a flowery ground cover, maintenance tasks like mowing and trimming may be greatly reduced in mature landscapes.

A long-blooming ground cover that needs little maintenance after the first flush of blooms has faded is great for tight settings. This little maintenance is simplified by the fact that all plants may be reached from outside the bed. When you need to cover a large area quickly, you need a ground cover that can pull its weight. You may choose from huge, clumping clumpers that spread out in all directions, ground-hugging creepers whose stems quickly take root wherever they lay on the soil, and spreaders that produce new plants from a broad range of roots. The 10 flowering ground covers I recommend are all highly rated for their extended bloom time, resistance to pests and diseases, and ability to quickly cover large areas.

 

Rebloomers are the best option for small spaces

Pink 'Bath's Pink' (Dianthus 'Bath's Pink') features dainty fringed blossoms, but its tenacity earns it a high ranking among flowering carpets. Older pinks have a reputation for "melting out" in hot weather, but 'Bath's Pink is more heat and humidity resilient. It's adaptable, so long as the soil is neutral or slightly alkaline, which means it may grow in a wide range of conditions. But proper drainage is crucial year-round, but more so in the winter. The fragrant flowers typically bloom in the late spring or early summer, however you may get a few late blooming if you prune off the spent flower heads. Even when the plants aren't in bloom, they provide visual appeal throughout the summer and into the winter with their thick carpets of thin, blue-green leaves.

Even though I'm now obsessed with the vibrant colors of 'Bath's Pink' flowers, I've always had a soft spot for catmint's cool blues and grays (Nepeta spp. and cvs.). My favorite is the 'Walker's Low' Nepeta faassenii. It is a great ground cover for hydrangeas and other flowering shrubs due to its compact growth habit. The attractive mounds of gray-green leaves, which grow to a height of 15–20 inches, remain attractive throughout the season and provide a refreshing minty scent when brushed against. Late spring through early summer is when their purple-blue flowers rise to the surface, and a little shearing in the middle of summer encourages a second blooming later in the season. After it has been established, 'Walker's Low' is very resistant to drought.

Oregano (Origanum spp. and cvs. ) is a great ground cover if you value fragrance and flowers. Oregano 'Herrenhausen' (O. laevigatum 'Herrenhausen') is a beautiful ornamental plant with clusters of purplish pink flowers and deep purple bracts, but its spicy-scented leaves don't compare to the flavor of culinary oregano. The plants grow in mounds that are one to two feet high; their tiny leaves emerge purple in the spring, turn green in the summer, and become a deep reddish purple in the fall. Flower clusters of 1–2 inches in width open in June and keep going all the way through the autumn (especially if deadheaded), luring butterflies and rewarding gardeners with beautiful bouquets. Low-maintenance and resistant to heat and drought, 'Herrenhausen' thrives once planted.

Many types of geraniums, including oreganos, are great for use as ground cover. The 'Rozanne' (Geranium) variety stands out among these top picks since it produces an exceptionally high volume of blooms over a very long period of time. In early June, saucer-shaped blooms 212 inches across begin to cover the growing mounds of precisely cut, gently mottled green leaves. In cool conditions or partial shade, the flowers open a brilliant blue with a prominent white center; in hotter conditions, the color shifts to a lavender blue with a little white eye. By giving the plants a quick shear in the midst of summer, you can maintain them looking neat and promote a long period of blooming into the autumn. Combine 'Rozanne' with early-blooming spring bulbs like crocuses and species tulips to make up for the plant's later start.

Veronica 'Goodness Grows' is a ground cover that often grows in mats or low mounds, but its thin, particularly spiky flowers provide a nice hint of verticality. The mat of narrow, bright green leaves seldom exceeds a height of 6 inches. From late spring to early summer, however, the plant's height is increased by a factor of four due to the appearance of deep blue racemes. One shearing or regular deadheading can help your plant continue to bloom all through the autumn. We recommend 'Goodness Grows' as the best veronica ground cover since it is one of the slowest growing varieties, has the longest bloom time, and blooms reliably year after year.

 

Large clumpers and fast-spreading varieties are used on large areas

Asters (Aster spp. and cvs. ) are a special kind of flower that may be used as a ground cover. Cultivars of Aster oblongifolius, such as 'October Skies,' may take up a lot of area in their initial year, even though most clump-forming perennials grow up rather than out. This fragrant aster doesn't start blooming until early to mid-fall, but it's well worth the wait. Throughout the most of the season, the 2-foot-tall mounds of thin green leaves seem like little manicured bushes. Many hundreds of fragrant, lavender-blue flowers like daisies covered them each fall. Outstanding late-season appeal may be found in 'October Skies,' which continues to flower even after the first frosts and retains its form far into the winter. Despite remaining in groups, the plants' crowns spread out to cover a wide area, about 2 feet in diameter.

This eye-catching ground cover is the result of combining vibrant flowers with variegated foliage. Bright yellow flowers, each about an inch across, fill the upper half of the upright stems of yellow loosestrife (Lysimachia punctata) from July to September. The leaves of the cultivar 'Alexander' are edged in white. This 2-foot-tall spreader is hardy and reliable, growing in sun, shade, and damp, dry, or average soil; however, severe sun and dry soil may cause the leaf tips to turn brown. However, unlike its more aggressive relative, gooseneck loosestrife (Lysimachia clethroides), this species is neither related to or invasive (Lythrum salicaria).

Evening primrose from Mexico is an invasive species (Oenothera berlandieri). This delicate-looking perennial makes an excellent ground cover if planted in an area where its fast-creeping roots have room to expand without crowding out other plants (or your grass). It reaches heights of 6-12 inches and has tiny, dark green leaves that are often tinged with crimson. The cupped blooms measure between 2 and 3 inches in diameter, and they are available in a rainbow of hues, from hot pink to pure white. There is a little break during the hottest months of the year, but flowers bloom all the way through the spring and autumn.

If you're looking for a subdued pink-flowering shrub, try Sedum spurium 'John Creech. It is evergreen in mild climates, where it grows slowly to cover the ground in 2-inch-tall carpets of finely scalloped leaves. The bright pink flowers, measuring 14 to 12 inches wide, are arranged in tight clusters just above the foliage. There have been reports of 'John Creech' blossoming in the late spring and early autumn, in addition to its more typical mid- to late-summer flowering period. Even in dry shade, the plants will produce more flowers if the soil is not wet; wet soil leads to flimsier growth that is less effective in smothering weeds.