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Do you want to naturalize your landscape in a wonderful way? Flowering plants that carpet your landscape have immense beauty from an aesthetic point of view.
Some varieties provide a sweet smell and lovely fragrance, while others change colour all year long. If you’re looking for the best garden ground cover plants, we’ve got you covered.
Here are 25 ground cover plants perfect for your garden borders.
1. Elephant Ears (Bergenia cordifolia)
Virtually disease-free, the Elephant Ears is an evergreen perennial. It boasts of rosy-red flowers atop thick stems. These flowers rise above leathery and wavy-shaped leaves.
Deep green in summer and spring, the leaves turn bronze in winter and fall. Easy to grow, this clump-forming perennial forms attractive foliage used in floral arrangements.
The Elephant Ears can grow up to 10 to 15 inches tall and 10 to 12 inches wide. As such, they make a wonderful garden ground cover plant.
2. Periwinkle (Vinca minor)
As one of the finest low-growing groundcovers, the Periwinkle features rich lavender flowers dotting the foliage in April and May. Commonly used as a spreading shrub, it forms a dense mat of glossy green leaves.
The shrub is shade tolerant and rarely reaches 4 inches in height. Commonly used to block views, do not plant it near other plants as it may overtake and choke them out.
3. Greater Periwinkle (Vinca major)
The Greater periwinkle is a mat-forming evergreen perennial. Nearly identical to periwinkle, the perennial has lovely violet-blue flowers that bloom in spring and summer.
As a versatile ground cover, it's often used in floral arrangements. Loved for its glossy, leathery green leaves, it forms a dense carpet of rich foliage.
Excellent for suppressing weeds, it can add a finishing touch to hanging containers and baskets. It grows up to 6 to 18 inches tall and thrives in full sun and partial shade.
4. Rock Spray (Cotoneaster Horizontalis)
Dense and slow-growing, the Rock Spray is typically grown in rock gardens. In fact, it can be trained to fences, trellises, and rock walls. In late spring, it produces light pink flowers, which give way to attractive berries and fall foliage.
The plant grows horizontally and reaches a height of 3 feet. It has dense and stiff branching giving the plant a bristly look. The stems shoot off the branches at an angle and feature small and round shiny leaves.
5. Poor Man's Box (Lonicera nitida Baggesen's Gold)
Valued for its attractive white flowers, the Poor man’s box is highly ornamental. Clothed in stunning, white, tubular, flowers, it remains green through winter and produces deep purple berries in summer.
It has glossy, oval, compound, leaves that form dense evergreen foliage with a shapely form. As such, it lends a fine texture to your gardens landscaping. Not only that. It's a great choice for attracting hummingbirds and butterflies to your garden.
6. Fortunes Spindle (Euonymus fortunei)
Native to China, Japan, and North America, the Fortunes spindle is a short shrub that grows up to 1 meter in height. Used to form low hedges and upholster walls, the shrub has pretty green leaves with cream-colored edges.
This hardy plant produces small, greenish-yellow flowers that give way to reddish fruits. It creates an attractive natural upholstery once it starts to climb your walls or fence.
7. Coral Bells (Heuchera)
Popular for their mounds of colourful foliage, the Coral bells produce tiny bell-shaped flowers that appear in spring. Native to America, they are versatile in your landscape and garden.
Best for edging, you can also plant them in a woodland shade garden and a mixed perennial border. An added bonus of the coral bells is that they often attract hummingbirds that visit the delicate flowers.
8. Creeping Juniper (Juniperus horizontalis)
Ideal for xeriscaping, the creeping juniper is an aromatic and graceful shrub. Often used as accents in flower borders or foundation plants, the shrub features plume-like branches.
The plant can grow up to two feet tall and spread as much as 6 to 8 feet wide. In spring and summer, the foliage has a blue-green cast while in winter, it has a plum-colored tint.
This creeping plant needs no cutting back or pruning. However, if it spreads beyond boundaries, remove some of the plants.
9. Flaky Juniper (Juniperus squamata blue carpet)
Perfect for your rock garden or as a foundation plant, the Flaky juniper grows up to 6 to 12 inches tall and 4 to 5 feet wide.
Native to Taiwan and China, this evergreen shrub has horizontal sprays of needle-like foliage. In summer, the foliage is silver-blue but in winter, it turns to grey-green.
Low maintenance and fast-growing, it makes a handsome groundcover and creates a stunning look within your gardens landscape.
10. Black Mondo Grass (ophiopogon planiscapus)
The Black mondo grass is a dense, perennial, grass with a medium texture that blends into your garden.
This attractive grass features dainty shell, pink, bell-shaped flowers with white overtones. In mid to late summer, they rise above the foliage and the leaves (that remain black all season).
In early to mid-fall, the flowers give way to black berries. The Black Mondo grass is ideal for mass planting, rock gardens, container planting, general garden use, and border edging.
11. Common Heather (Calluna vulgaris)
Dense and compact, Common heather is a beautiful evergreen shrub that grows 0.6 m by 0.5 m. Native to the UK, the Common heather blankets the moorlands of Britain.
When they bloom in late summer, they are an iconic sight. The shrub blooms mostly pink to light violet flowers that usually grow up to 50 cm.
This cute plant deserves a spot in your garden. Not only does it inject vivid life into your garden and landscape. But it changes colour all year-round.
12. Lavender (Lavandula)
Native to the mountainous regions of the Mediterranean, Lavender is a grey-green shrub with a charming look. Aromatic and fragrant, the shrub can grow up to 20 to 100 cm.
Growing Lavender in your garden is rewarding. The rich purple flowers not only smell good. But you can pick them for fresh or for dried bouquets.
You can plant Lavenders along garden paths and walkways so that you can enjoy the aromatic scent.
13. Lady's Mantle (alchemilla mollis)
The Lady's mantle is an attractive perennial with soft grey-green foliage. Semi-round and with scalloped shaped leaves, the plant produces yellow-green blooms in late spring and summer.
You can use the Lady's mantle as ground cover for edging especially when kept inside the house. Lady's mantle is commonly used in bouquets and wreaths, either dried or freshly cut.
14. Montbretia (Crocosmia)
Exotic looking and attractive, the Montbretia produces scarlet red, orange, and yellow flowers. Attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds, these vibrant blossoms give way to seedpods.
This great perennial is ideal for a late-season garden as it provides vibrant colors as other perennials begin to fade. Besides the blooms, the narrow-bladed leaves also provide vertical accents to the perennial border.
This perennial also looks spectacular next to the Agapanthus, Echinops, or Aconitum.
15. Japanese Spurge (pachysandra terminalis)
The Japanese spurge is an evergreen perennial that belongs to the boxwood family. This popular landscaping plant is commonly planted in people’s front yards under trees.
As an effective ground cover, the plant spreads to form a dense mat. This spreading action is usually accomplished by growing runners.
The shrubby plant can grow up to a foot in height with oval serrated leaves that measure 2 to 4 inches long. In early spring, the plant produces 1 to 2-inch white flower spikes.
16. Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris)
The Ostrich fern is a tough and hardy plant with tall, lacy, fronds. Grown best in shade with rich, moist soils, the plant is usually valued for its ornamental, upright habit of growth.
The large, fragrant, ferny, compound leaves set it apart from other garden plants with less foliage. It can grow to be about 24 inches tall with a spread of 4 feet.
Recommended for mass planting, groundcover, general garden use, and woodland gardens.
17. Creeping Blue Blossom (Ceanothus thyrsiflorus var. Repens)
Evergreen and low-growing, the Creeping blue blossom is popular for its abundant clusters of sky blue flowers. These flowers cover the shrub transforming it into an explosion of blue.
Perfect for your garden and landscape, this spreading shrub has evergreen foliage. Its low and spreading habit makes the Creeping blue blossom a fantastic groundcover plant.
18. Creeping Barberry (Mahonia repens)
Excellent for xeriscaping, the Creeping barberry is a low-growing and evergreen shrub.
In spring, it produces bright golden-yellow flowers that give way to clusters of dark blue-purple berries. The flowers are fragrant and attract pollinators such as butterflies.
Ideal for woodland and rock gardens, the shrub has lustrous foliage composed of glossy, leathery, blue-green leaves.
19. Sweet Box (Sarcococca hookeriana)
Sweet box is a versatile shade-loving broadleaf shrub that looks good all year long. In spring, the shrub produces white tubular fragrant flowers that give way to shiny blackberries.
Grown for its highly ornamental fruit, it has an attractive, dark green, foliage composed of glossy pointed leaves. This dense multi-stemmed shrub has a rounded form that blends into your gardens flower borders.
20. St John's Wort (Hypericum calycinum)
Native to Southwestern Asia and Southern Europe, the St John's wort is a small shrub. Semi-evergreen and exotic, it produces screaming bright yellow flowers that measure 3 inches wide.
The rose-like flowers have 5 petals that surround a tuft of reddish anthers and bushy stamens. The plant has oval leaves that turn bronze then quickly turn medium green to blue-green.
This contrasts with the yellow flowers. As a popular groundcover, it's perfect for the border front, rock gardens, or naturalized planting.
21. Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonechloa macra)
Attractive and eye-catching, the Japanese forest grass grows in a mound up to 1 to 2 ft tall and 30 to 60 cm wide.
Easy to grow, it spreads by rhizomes and eventually forms a broad, attractive ground cover. Native to Japan, the plant has soft foliage that changes colour from solid green to bright gold.
The Japanese forest grass is invaluable as it adds a multi-season colour and texture to your garden. To create eye-catching combinations, we recommend planting near the Pulmonaria or Heuchera.
22. Sedum Spurium (Caucasian stonecrop)
The Sedum spurium is an easy-to-grow perennial. It produces pink-crimson flowers that tower over the green leaves and trailing stems. The pinnate leaves densely cover the stems creating low and dense tufts.
This evergreen plant retains its ornamental value all year thanks to its dense foliage. Perfect for planting in rock gardens, it grows well under south-facing walls and well-lit corners of the garden.
23. Meadow Cranesbill (Geranium pratense)
Native to Northern European, the Meadow cranesbill is a tall clump-forming plant with finely cut leaves that form a mass of foliage and blooms. It produces large, saucer-shaped blue-violet flowers that tower above the deeply lobed leaves.
Easy to grow, the Meadow cranesbill is a great addition to cottage gardens, beds, borders, and woodland gardens. Pest and disease-free, it grows up to 2 to 3 feet tall and spreads 24 to 30 inches wide.
24. Persian Ivy (Hedera colchica)
Originating in Turkey, the Persian ivy is an evergreen, woody vine with attractive and heart-shaped, deep green leaves. The heart-shaped leaves make for an attractive vertical display. In fact, the vine clings to walls and fences by aerial rootlets.
It produces spherical yellow or greenish-white flowers that give way to small berries. The plant can be grown to cover trellises and walls. You can also grow it as a houseplant as it makes a beautiful cascading hanging basket.
25. Breckland Thyme (Thymus serpyllum)
Evergreen and low growing, the Breckland thyme is a dwarf, woody, creeping plant grown primarily as an ornamental ground cover.
Hairy and prostrate, the plant produces tiny, tubular, bell-shaped flowers, deep pink to purple. It has tiny blue-green leaves. The plant leaves are aromatic and release a sweet-smelling fragrance.
As a wonderful addition to your garden, it provides ground cover for pathways, patios, and borders. Come summer, the deep pink to purple blooms attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.
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Paul Nicolaides has over 30 years of recreational gardening and 20 years of professional landscaping experience. He has worked for landscape contractors including design and build practices across London and the South East. In 2006 he qualified with a BA Hons degree and post graduate diploma in Landscape Architecture. In 2009 he founded Ecospaces an ecological landscaping practice which aims to improve social cohesion and reduce climate change through landscaping. In 2016 he founded Buckinghamshire Landscape Gardeners which designs and builds gardens across Buckinghamshire and the South East. This blog aims to provide easy problem solving information to its audience and encourage others to take up the joy of landscaping and gardening.