Garden Supplies

Fast Growing Groundcover for Shade

If you are looking for a fast growing groundcover for shade, such as a narrow border on the north side of your house or an area shaded by trees, there are a number of possibilities. The lesser periwinkle (vinca minor) has glossy dark-green leaves and small blue flowers which appear in spring and early summer. Growing only 2-4 inches tall but with a spread of 3-4 feet the one drawback of this plant is that it came become invasive. Another aggressive grower is deadnettle (lamium). L. garganicum is a neat perennial growing six inches high and is one of the less rampant of the species.

My first choice for perennial groundcover for a fragrant rock garden is Dianthus. Two dense mat-forming varieties are D. areniarius and D. arvensis both of which bear fragrant flowers from June to August.

When you are considering groundcover for containers, plants with a creeping habit are indicated. Wild thyme (T. serpyllum) grows to a height of 1-3 inches with a spread of two feet or more. This is an aromatic herb which is related to the common thyme used for cooking.

Choosing groundcover for an acidy area is not too difficult. Heaths and heathers thrive in acid soils and come in a variety of colored foliage and flowers. The Trumpet gentian (G. acaulis) grows 3 inches tall and forms mats of sturdy, glossy mid-green leaves. The horn-shaped blue flowers appear in May and June but flowering can be somewhat unpredictable.

If you ask which groundcover is best for sunny areas, the answer is that you have a wide choice. Since most plants thrive in sun, several of those mentioned above would be suitable. Here are a few more: Aubretia - only 3-4 inches high and spreading to form a mat of hoary green leaves with small flowers in shades of purple and lilac between March and June. The Geranium genus includes several low growing varieties. G. sanguineum and G. subcaulescens are two examples. Sedums are another possibility. S. acre with a height of 1-2 inches is a mat-forming evergreen alpine species with yellow flowers in June and July. S. album is similar but with white flowers.

For colorful perennial groundcover Moss phlox (P. subulata) would be a good choice. With a height of 2-4 inches this plant spreads to form a mat of mid-green leaves which are covered by a mass of purple or pink flowers in April and May.

Plants that would be suitable for shade-tolerant evergreen groundcover include Pachysandra. P. terminalis is rather taller, growing to a height of 12 inches, but spreads to cover the ground in both partial and deep shaded areas. For fast-growing groundcover in shade we have already mentioned vinca minor. Two further candidates for these conditions are Pulmonaria and Saxifraga.

This article has been a brief survey of those plants which are suitable for use as groundcover in the varying conditions of sun and shade and differing soil types.


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