Groundcovers are low-growing plants that create a dense carpet of leaves. Some of these plants, however, produce more than beautiful leaves: they also provide a wonderful display of flowers. These vigorous low-maintenance plants will add colour to any garden.
The most beautiful groundcovers
Most groundcovers have a creeping habit: they send out trailing or underground runners that quickly produce new plants to blanket the ground surface. With so many different groundcovers to choose from, there are plenty that provide both attractive foliage and gorgeous flowers. The Foam flower (Tiarella cordifolia), for instance, is completely covered with white flowers in the spring. It even thrives in shade and retains its elegant light green leaves all winter long. Also highly recommended is the Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans ‘Catlin’s Giant’). This is a vigorous perennial that produces bright blue flower spikes above purplish-green leaves in May/June. Other favourite groundcovers include Thyme (Thymus praecox), Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia), Japanese spurge (Pachysandra terminalis), Brass buttons (Letinella squalida) and Frog foot (Phyla nodiflora).
Effective groundcovers will save you a lot of work because they suppress weeds. The best groundcovers are evergreen and create such a dense planting that weeds just can’t grow through them. A groundcover planting is especially low-maintenance when you use a single variety to cover a large area. Varieties recommended for shade include Barren strawberry (Waldsteinia ternata), Lesser periwinkle (Vinca minor) and Lilyturf (Liriope muscari). For a sunny spot, choose New Zealand bur (Acaena) or Wall bellflower (Campanula portenschlagiana).
Nice to combine
Groundcover varieties will also thrive when planted in combination with other varieties. Together, they will become a continuous planting in a large or small bed or even an entire border. For a spring display, plant the profusely flowering Creeping phlox (Phlox subulata ‘Emerald Cushion Blue’) together with tulips. A good solution for a low-maintenance bed that still has to look attractive over a long period would be a planting of Trailing bellflower Campanula poscharskyana ‘E.H. Frost’ with a few Plantain lilies (Hosta). Or opt for Japanese spurge (Pachysandra terminalis) with the pink-flowered Crane’s bill (Geranium cantabrigiense ‘Cambridge’) and the gold and green variegated Hosta ‘Golden Tiara’. Another decorative planting can be created with Crane’s bill (Geranium macrorrhizum ‘Spessart’) and Astilbe chinensis ‘Pumila’ with an edging made with Bergenia. When combining varieties, always consider the growing conditions (dry or moist soil, sun or shade) that are indicated on the plant label.
Good to know
- Vigorous perennial groundcovers will emerge, spread, grow and flower every year starting in early spring.
- Groundcovers can be planted at any time of the year as long as temperatures are above freezing.
- An average of 9-12 plants (depending on the variety) will be needed for every square metre.
- Cut back the foliage of evergreen groundcovers in the spring, just before their new shoots appear (March – April). As soon as temperatures start to rise, their new leaves will quickly cover the plants again to create a fresh green carpet.