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A better-behaved cousin to the less-than-polite trumpet vine, cross vine is a colorful solution for a fence or arbor with afternoon shade. Although this east Texas native is slow to establish, ‘Tangerine Beauty’ sports brighter, showier flowers than other cultivars and will reward your patience with loads of orange blooms in both spring and fall. Flowers bloom on old wood, so prune this vine immediately only after blooms fade. -Leslie Finical Halleck, Fine Gardening #147 (October 2012), page 74
Trumpet creeper is a vigorous climber with clusters of trumpet-shaped orange to red flowers from late summer to autumn.
Rows of white flowers dangle above the fern-like foliage, opening in April and continuing intermittently until October.
Don't let its delicate appearance fool you: Western bleeding heart is hardy and tenacious. This elegant, herbaceous perennial spreads slowly from rhizomes to form drifts of soft blue-green, ferny foliage in shady woodland areas. Above the leaves in late spring, pink heart-shaped flowers hang gracefully from long, arched stems, attracting scores of hummingbirds but not the local deer. It is surprisingly drought tolerant during the summer months.
Golden yellow foliage emerges from the ground in early spring and is soon accompanied by rosy-pink broken hearts that open in succession for nearly a month as the stems elongate.
This cultivar has dark green leaves with a faint bronze sheen. Its narrow, dangling, red and purple flowers bloom throughout the season.
'Crimson Curls' heuchera is fairly pest free, but it requires constant moisture to look its best. White flowers contrast with ruby-colored foliage that deepens in direct sun. 'Crimson Curls' flowers in late spring, and if deadheaded, will flower again by late summer. It needs too much water to grow well in containers. Instead, use it massed along a walkway or in a woodland bed. -Ron Smith, Regional Picks: Upper Plains, Fine Gardening issue #120
Large, fuzzy, gray-green leaves distinguish 'Autumn Bride' from other cultivars of Heuchera villosa. Attractive white flowers bloom in midsummer. This heuchera tolerates full sun but prefers partial shade, especially in the afternoon. -Jane Hutson, Regional Picks: Midwest, Fine Gardening issue# 127
‘Halycon’ is a wonderful blue hosta that holds its strong leaf color all season. Its textured, blue-green leaves are thick enough to be slug resistant. Bell-shaped, pale lilac flowers are followed by seed heads that attract birds late in the season. 'Halcyon' grows fairly slowly. It can be used as either a ground cover or a specimen plant. -Jane Hutson, Regional Picks: Midwest, Fine Gardening issue# 127
This woody, twining climber has two-lipped, tubular scarlet-orange flowers, yellow inside, in terminal whorls in summer and autumn. Bright red fruit appears in autumn.
This is a very fragrant native woodland phlox with powder-blue flowers in spring. Reaching only 1 foot tall, it can spread to almost 2 feet and makes an attractive groundcover under shrubs or planted with other spring-blooming wildflowers. Leaves are semi-evergreen and hairy; stems root along their length. The blue flowers are salverform with petal lobes. This plant attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.
This drought-tolerant perennial bears abundant pure blue flower spikes in early summer and until fall if spent flowers are removed promptly. It forms an erect clump 20 inches tall by 18 inches wide, with wrinkled, softly hairy leaves.
This drought-tolerant perennial bears deep violet-blue flower spikes in early summer and then sporadically if spent flowers are removed promptly. It forms an erect clump 2.5 feet tall by 1.5 feet wide, with wrinkled, soft hairy leaves.
This biennial or short-lived perennial is grown for its massive, downy-silver rosettes of foliage. In its second year, it spawns plumes of white or pinkish flowers with gray calyces in mid- to late summer. The plant has a spiky form, 3 feet tall by 2 feet wide. Locate it where the rosettes can be easily seen.
This drought-tolerant perennial produces flower spikes in shades of violet, purple, or white to pink, with purple bracts. It blooms from early summer to autumn; reblooming is most reliable if spent flowers are promptly deadheaded. It has wrinkled leaves and forms an erect clump 3 feet tall by 2 feet wide. This species is most noted for its many S. sylvestris hybrids.
This prolific cultivar has dark green foliage and bears nodding blue flowers from mauve buds. It grows to a compact height of 18 inches tall. It may become invasive and difficult to eradicate once established.
This notably beautiful plant produces huge, elongated banana-shaped leaves, which are arfully edged in luminescent yellow. The rosette sits at 18 inches tall, and in early summer the plant bears clusters of mauve-pink bells atop stems that are 4 to 5 feet tall.
Dramatic clusters of blue-violet to red-violet flowers with an intoxicating fragrance grace this vigorous twining climber. Its springtime cascading flower clusters can grow to 3 feet long or more in some cultivars. Blooms typically open first at the base and last at the tip of each cluster. Trunk diameter can reach 7 to 8 inches after 20 years, and the plant can climb to 35 or more feet in height, though its size is easily contolled by pruning.
Dramatic flowers with an intoxicating fragrance cover this vigorous twining climber. Its cascading flower clusters grow to about 1 foot in length and are borne in abundance, with each one on the plant blooming more or less simultaneously, in late spring. Each small flower is usually light blue mixed with white, but plants are also available in colors such as violets, whites, and pinks. It blooms before foliage emerges.
This heat-loving native Southwestern species has gray-green leaves and grows to 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Orangey red, tubular blossoms cover the plant in late summer and early fall.
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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