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'Procumbens' is similar to 'Pendula' in color but prostrate in habit, with cascading branches sometimes staying stiffly horizontal. Makes a spreading, undulating, mounding ground cover of silvery white needles.
Dwarf white-stripe has 5-inch-long, upward-pointing green leaves strongly variegated with white. It grows up to 3 feet tall in either sun or shade, forming a striking contrast to less flamboyant neighbors.
This bamboo has showy variegated leaves of green and gold in an irregular pattern of stripes. It is a running bamboo, making it good for naturalizing and filling in or for hedging, but it may need to be controlled by underground barriers. It grows to about 5 feet high.
This North American native bears deep blue or occasionally white, bell-shaped blossoms in spring and possibly late summer if deadheaded. It grows from 1 to 3 feet tall. Use Jacob's ladder in a lightly shaded border, rock garden, woodland, or cottage garden.
This dramatic cultivar has bright green leaves that are richly edged with cream. It bears lavender-blue blossoms in spring, and grows from 1.5 to 2 feet tall.
This North American native bears light blue bell-shaped blossoms in spring to early summer. It has a lax, sprawling habit to 1.5 feet tall. The leaflets are arranged like the rungs of a ladder, hence the common name.
This variegated cultivar offers white-edged leaves with pink tints on a compact plant to 1.5 feet tall. It bears light lavender-blue bell-shaped blossoms in spring.
From late spring into summer, this species bears tubular greenish-white flowers that dangle underneath the arching stems. The foliage is smooth; in autumn it turns to clear yellow, contrasting with the blue-black berries this plant produces. Its height varies wildly from 1.5 to 6 feet tall.
From late spring to early summer, this species bears pendent, green-tipped white flowers along arching stems. These mature into spherical black fruit in autumn, when the foliage turns yellow.
Gracefully arching 2 to 3-foot tall burgundy stems support narrow leaves streaked in pure white. From late spring to early summer, this species bears white flowers that mature into spherical black fruit in autumn, when the foliage turns a golden yellow. Variegated Solomon's seal is a fine choice for a shady bed. -Matt Griswold, Regional Picks: Northeast, Fine Gardening issue #27
The Christmas fern is a particularly accommodating garden plant. It is adapted to a wide range of conditions, from very dry to moist, and is hardy to Zone 3. The plant’s 1- to 2-foot fronds are dependably evergreen—hence the common name—but they lie flat on the ground through the winter. Few hardy ferns have more beautiful deep, glossy green foliage.
This evergreen terrestial fern has a somewhat formal look due to its satiny olive-green fronds and neat, arching habit.
Western sword ferns abound in the forests of the Northwestern U.S. They are robust, reliable, and virtually maintenance-free. They put up with difficult soil and manage to keep up appearances even in hot, dry weather. Their deep green, leathery fronds are attractive year-round.
A native fern with triangular-shaped, stiff, upright fronds that can tolerate dry soil and full sun. Bracken can make very large colonies and are found in a variety of habitats ranging from dry and wet forests to meadows and bogs. They grow up to 4.5 feet tall.
This eye-catching perennial has silver-plated leaves with speckled margins. Its blooms are among the largest of all lungworts, beginning as pink buds and opening in early spring to display platinum blue flowers.
This plant will eventually form a decent-sized mound that resembles a mountain of liquid silver. It's perfect in a woodland border and makes a great ground cover and container plant. In mild winters, its leaves may stay evergreen.
This cheerful, reliable plant brings a nice touch of color to the garden in spring. The leaves are pointed and hairy and splattered with silvery blotches. As the plant grows, the leaves overlap, creating a swirly pattern. In spring, clusters of silky pink flowers appear. They fade to a soft blue that harmonizes well with the leaf color. -Sue Whetten, Regional Picks: Rocky Mountains, Fine Gardening issue #127
This vigorous shrub hugs the ground (to 2 feet tall) and spreads out to 8 feet, making it an excellent choice for stablizing a bank or smothering weeds. It has small yellow flowers, hairy red fruits, and glossy leaves that change to gorgeous orange-red in autumn.
This species has palmate, wrinkled leaves that extend to 2 feet wide. The veins and leaf stalks are reddish-brown and densely woolly. In midsummer, the 2-foot-long, upright flower spikes are made up of white or pink florets.
This species creates tropical drama with its large, toothed leaves and ivory-green, footlong flowers. It exhibits reddish-bronze color in autumn.
This dwarf rose grows to only 18 inches tall, and covers itself all season long with large clusters of lightly scented vibrant pink flowers.
Q&A Ground covers to avoid
by Nancy Ondra
Planting Ground Covers
Proper spacing and regular care are the best ways to create a lush, weed-free carpet
by Mary Hirshfeld
Flowering Ground Covers
To blanket an area small or large, these are the perennials to pick
by Nancy Ondra
Dividing a ground cover
by Liana Mackey
Plants for Pathways
These durable creeping perennials discourage weeds and soften the look of a walkway
by Marty Wingate
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