10 Best Flowering Ground Covers
Flowering groundcovers beautify trouble spots, help with erosion and add a blaze of flowers to home landscaping.
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All About Flowering Ground Covers
Few landscaping elements draw wows quite like a flowering ground cover. It can explode into a stunning display of blooms, keep erosion under control, attractively spill across rock or walls, or help fill in shady areas beneath trees or steep hillsides where it can be difficult to mow grass.
Here are our picks for 10 standout flowering ground covers, most of them perennial and low maintenance.
Besides being one of the earliest plants to bloom in the spring, creeping phlox erupts into a dense carpet of flowers that almost cover up the delicate needle leaves. Plant it along rock walls or borders and to complement spring tulips, daffodils and hyacinth. Flowers come in shades of hot pink, lavender, white and purple.
Phlox can be forgiving with most soils and tolerates partial shade, but it prefers good drainage and full sun. Best in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 3 to 9.
Carpets of fragrant creeping thyme can handle dry, full-sun areas and even light foot traffic with tiny hot pink, lavender or white flowers. You can find a variety of foliage and scents such as spicy orange or lemon, which can be used as fresh herbs. Richter’s sells large trays of thyme for covering large areas. Best in USDA Hardiness Zones 4-9.
This plant family can take the heat of summer, full sun and dry conditions while spreading into succulent mats a few inches high. It’s a great choice for a flowering ground cover for anyone living in drier climates of the West.
Petite star-shaped flowers in yellow, pink or deep red cover the plants, but foliage can be just as appealing in colors such as cream-and-green Boogie Woogie, red-edged Lime Zinger and cool tones of Blue Carpet. Sedums can handle partial shade. Zones 3-10.
With the spicy-sweet scent of carnations (they’re in the same family), dianthus’ smaller flowers cover blue-green foliage that spreads across rock and alpine gardens. Also known as pinks, dianthus are pink, red, white or lavender and can handle cold and heat. They also draw butterflies and hummingbirds. Zones 3-10.
If you live in the South, the heady fragrance of the star jasmine vine could lead you home with your eyes closed.
The big fragrance comes from petite white flowers on deep-green foliage. While it’s often grown as a climbing plant, or a container plant that can be brought indoors in northern climates, the pretty vine can also be successfully grown as groundcover. Zone 8-10.
Vinca, also known as periwinkle or creeping myrtle, grows and spreads so well some people consider it invasive. It can be an attractive choice, though, for partially shady areas.
The shiny, dark-green leaves look attractive even when the five-petaled purple flowers aren’t blooming. For more visual variety and color, look for choices such as vinca Illumination, which has golden streaks on the leaves. Zones 3-9.
For a taller groundcover that’s fragrant and showy, Flower Carpet roses will turn a hillside into a spectacle. Line a sidewalk with up to 2,000 flowers per plant from spring through late fall.
Look for choices of pink, deep rose, scarlet, coral and amber roses. They may need some winter mulch and spring trimming, but they can outlast heat waves and spring runoff with road salt. Zones 4-10.
Lily of the Valley
This old-fashioned favorite is one of the few blooming groundcovers that can thrive in deep shade, such as beneath an evergreen or on the shady north side of a garage or house. This plant spreads quickly and may need to be contained by a border. Many gardeners love the scent of its tiny bell-shaped white flowers. The plants grow about six to 10 inches high in Zones 2-8.
Walker’s Low Catmint
Choose this low-growing catmint for an easy-to-maintain groundcover than can handle sun and well-drained soil. It also draws a crowd of butterflies and other pollinators with its spikes of purple flowers and fragrant blue-green foliage. This herb spreads easily and can be dried and used in cat toys. Zones 4-9.
Gold Dust Allysum
While most people know allysum as a popular annual with delicate white blooms, this perennial allysum puts on a show with golden clusters above light green foliage every spring. It works well in borders and rock gardens. Also called Basket of Gold allysum, these flowers do best with well-drained soil and full sun. Zones 3-8.