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Black foliage and spiky blue flowers (which appear in early summer) make a dramatic contrast. 'Black Scallop' thrives in full sun, which intensifies the black color. In full sun, the plant produces numerous runners, which should be thinned to prevent crown rot. In large plantings, you can run a rotary mower with a bagger attachment over the patch to control crowding and keep the foliage fresh. In mixed container plantings, the spilling habit of the plant makes it a standout choice. -Ron Smith, Regional Picks: Upper Plains, Fine Gardening issue #120
This plant produces a great low-growing mat of flowers. The cheerful starlike blossoms come in pink, blue, and white, and the attractive finely cut leaves disappear soon after flowering.
This is a short-growing aster with lilac-blue flowers and creeping rootstocks. Many cultivars exist. It can be used on steep slopes for erosion control.
This striking, richly-textured, deciduous ground cover has heart-shaped leaves that turn mauve in autumn. Purple, blue, or white flowers appear in late summer to early fall.
This plant produces distinct, 2-inch blossoms primarily in rich blue (but also in shades of purple and white), with dark eyes smudged white. It is suitable for sun and partial shade.
This woodland plant is valued for its flowers and groundcovering leaves. Terminal clusters of delicate blue flowers appear in spring.
This woodland plant is valued for its flowers and its heart-shaped, ground-covering leaves. Its small blue flowers go nicely with ephemeral bulbs in mid- to late spring, as the enlarging leaves block out the ripening bulb foliage. 'Jack Frost' can take dry summers and wet winters. This cultivar is prized for its improved tolerance of heat and sun. -Marty Hair, Regional Picks: Upper Midwest, Fine Gardening issue# 127
This woodland plant is valued for its flowers and heart-shaped, groundcovering leaves. 'Langtrees' can take dry summers and wet winters. This cultivar is prized for its improved tolerance of heat and sun.
This brunnera cultivar has a silvery, heart-shaped leaves that are mostly everygreen. Delicate blue flowers emerge in spring. Drought tolerant once established, ‘Looking Glass’ brunnera requires little watering and is fairly resistant to pests. This cultivar grows to a little more than a foot tall and almost as wide. Use it in a woodland or shade garden, in a container, or at waterside. -Sylvia Matlock, Regional Picks: Northwest, Fine Gardening issue #127
Butterfly bushes are carefree deciduous shrubs that are reliably fragrant and easy to grow. Butterflies swarm to their blooms all summer long. 'Lochinch' has extremely fragrant lilac-blue flowers with orange eyes. It is a cross between B. davidii and B. fallowiana. Its arching, mounded habit typically reaches 3 to 5 feet in one season, but can grow much taller in the deep South. The 8- to 12-inch-long flower spikes begin in late summer and bloom until frost, starting a little later than the B. davidii cultivars.
Serbian bellflowers have an easy, undemanding habit. Creating a stream of lavender blue, the 1-inch-diameter star-shaped blossoms bloom reliably from late spring to early fall. The foliage remains evergreen in mild winters and needs to be sheared only once in a while to keep its appearance tidy. 'Blue Waterfall' flows beautifully along bed edges and through rock gardens in full sun to partial shade.
This lovely herbaceous species is versatile and undemanding. It is the star of the late-summer garden with its spiky bright red flower buds and vivid blue flowers, displaying long-lasting mahogany red foliage in fall. Spreading slowly via underground runners, this long-lived plant makes a solid mat with erect, slender red stems and bright green leaves.
This variety has fragrant, deep blue, cornucopia-shaped flowers carried tightly on red stems above 6-inch tall, blue-green foliage. It is considered one of the best blue forms for color and performance.
This fragrant, blue-flowered species is more vigorous and heat tolerant than the blue cultivars. It blooms from late spring to early summer, and its foliage persists throughout the season with adequate moisture.
From late spring to summer, this species produces clusters of brilliant blue flowers over ferny foliage. It is the parent of many of the rapidly expanding selection of choice blue cultivars.
The first of the coveted blue corydalises to be introduced, it produces fragrant clusters of long-spurred, azure flowers on a compact plant.
This is one of the coveted blue corydalises. It produces whorled clusters of sky-blue flowers on 18-inch tall plants.
This choice corydalis produces fragrant clusters of periwinkle-blue flowers and ferny foliage infused with purple hues. It is similar to 'Blue Panda,' yet is slower to spread and blooms more reliably during the summer.
This species produces copious purplish-blue flowers in spring and fall. It has light green ferny leaves with a mid-rib of silver.
Regarded by some as the bluest blue fescue, this plant forms compact, cascading mounds of foot-tall, intensely blue, narrow leaves that are attractive in all seasons. Blooms are generally secondary to the foliage, but this cultivar blooms more heavily than most, with spikelets in summer. This cultivar is long-lived and very hardy. Grow in groups in a border or rock garden, or as a groundcover.
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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