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This New Zealand native subshrub has 3-inch-wide scalloped leaves and little purple-brown to pale olive leaflets. Its rhizomatous roots spread in a mat to support this plant's wonderful ground-cover form. In early summer, 3/4-inch-wide flowers appear on short stems, and brownish green sepals and white anthers contrast with the dark leaves. The rhizomatous roots of this plant spread slowly into a mat, forming a nice ground cover. Prune every five years or so for a neat appearance; little other care is required. -Gerald Gibbens, Regional Picks: Northwest, Fine Gardening issue #120
This deciduous, mat-forming perennial produces everlasting flowers. It is a native prairie plant that has stem and leaf bottoms covered with white hairs and whitish flower heads that form in dense clusters. Male and female flowers are produced on separate plants.
This is a fine plant for cascading over the edge of a wall. It's a hardy, prostrate shrub with intricate branching that often forms mats up to 3 feet wide, by runners. Fragrant, white bell-shaped flowers tinged with pink are borne in May and followed later in the season by red berries. The common bearberry's stunning red stems are studded with small, glossy, evergreen leaves.
This wild ginger is an evergreen groundcover with heart-shaped, shiny leaves that are often marbled. Its interesting brown-purple flowers hide beneath the foliage.
English daisy bears stems topped with a single white, daisy-like flower. The flowers are tinged maroon and yellow; but cultivars are available with single, semi-double, or double button flowers in shades of white, pink, salmon, and ruby. The plant's smooth, spoon-shaped leaves form neat rosettes. This carpeting perennial is often grown as a biennial. Its many cultivars are used for bedding out or container displays.
This ground-hugging succulent perennial roots at the nodes, has a creeping habit, and often forms deep mats covering large areas. It produces abundant yellow daisy-like flowers that open at noon and turn pink later in the day.
Snow-in-summer is great for rock gardens and dry areas, and also works well as a container plant. Plant it on a stone wall for a cascading effect. Snow-in-summer needs room to perform. A single plant can carpet an area as wide as a yard across. After the flowers fade, the silver/grey foliage shines on in contrast to more predictable shades of green.
A fine plant for fall, this cyclamen's frequently scented, mottled flowers emerge directly from the soil, followed by a carpet of patterned, mid- to dark green leaves attractively variegated with patterns in white or silver. It often blooms for up to two months. Each small pink or white flower has swept-back petals resembling a dove in flight, marked with maroon at the mouth. It makes a good foliage display all winter after the flowers have faded.
Covering itself with glowing fuchsia daisy-like flowers with many narrow petals, 'John Proffit' makes a beautiful groundcover or container plant. The succulent foliage looks like it has small pieces of ice on it (hence the name "ice plant') and is evergreen in warmer climates. Growing to only a few inches tall, it can spread almost 2 feet wide. It blooms from late spring to early fall.
Mesa Verde® is a moderately-spreading ground cover with small, bright salmon pink flowers that bloom from midspring till late fall. It is tolerant of a wide variety of soil conditions, from poor or sandy to well-drained.
Summer-long bloom and a tough constitution make the mat-forming ice plant a perfect groundcover. Two-inch magenta blossoms with white anthers are produced in midsummer and late summer.
Long silvery stems, sometimes reaching 4 feet or more, bear silvery, small leaves. Use this striking plant as a groundcover or in containers.
'Minimus' has smaller leaves than other plants of the species and a very low-growing, spreading habit. This evergreen shrub is best used as a groundcover, but it can climb as a vine if given support. It forms a dense mat of quarter-inch leaves. It may suffer winter burn in cold climates.
This beautiful, mounded, dwarf perennial has gray-green leaves (grayer than the species) and large, purplish pink flowers with purple veins and eyes.
A mass of small purple leaves and abundant golden yellow, bell-shaped flowers distinguish this groundcover. It is useful on slopes as well as in containers.
Creeping Jenny is a low-growing, rampant, evergreen groundcover with rounded leaves. In summer, it produces many cup-shaped, bright yellow flowers.
Golden creeping Jenny is a low-growing, rampant, evergreen groundcover with rounded, golden yellow leaves. In summer, it produces many cup-shaped, bright yellow flowers.
Mazus reptans is a mat-forming perennial with rosettes of lance-shaped toothed leaves. It spreads quickly through rooting stems. From late spring to mid-summer, it bears 2- to 5-flowered racemes of snapdragon-like purple-blue flowers with lower lips spotted with yellow and red.
This prostrate evergreen species produces a mass of richly textured leaves, making it an attractive groundcover for formal areas, rock gardens, or woodland beds. The leaves are thick, neatly rounded and formed, with bronzy undersides and autumn color that persists through the winter. In summer, it bears white flowers, which are sometimes followed by red fruits.
This Japanese native is perfect for the rock garden. It is a compact species with blue-green foliage and pink stems, and bears purplish-red flowers in fall. Sedum cauticola grows to about 3 inches tall and a foot wide.
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
Great Plants for a Fall Cutting Garden
Rely on colorful, long-stemmed plants to keep your vases filled as the season winds down
by Suzanne McIntire
Dividing a ground cover
by Liana Mackey
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