Sun Or Shade Ground Cover Plants

Plants commonly known as ground covers are used to fill in places where grass doesn't want to grow, to prevent soil erosion on steep banks, in places that are difficult to mow or simply to beautify the landscape. Whatever your reason for choosing ground cover plants I hope you'll find the following information about some of my favorite groundcovers to be helpful in making your selection.

Palace Purple Alumroot
Palace Purple Alumroot

Palace Purple Alumroot

Also known as Palace Purple Coral Bells, this frost hardy perennial is prized for its beautiful bronze and purple foliage more than for the tiny pinkish white bell shaped flowers that bloom in early spring. During periods of very high temperatures the leaves may turn green This is a low growing and spreading plant that is easy to grow in full sun to part shade. This plant is at its very best in moist and well drained soil.

Blood-Red Cranesbill Geranium

Annual geraniums are very popular but the low spreading perennial geraniums are sometimes overlooked. Plant this drought tolerant geranium in sunny places and this long bloomer will give you pink or purplish flowers all summer long. This variety is also salt resistant and will make a good choice for planting near driveways or walkways.

Blood-Red Cranesbill
Blood-Red Cranesbill


This perennial is very popular with gardeners because of its shade tolerance and its beautiful and sturdy foliage and that's easy to grow and maintain. It offers spiky flowers in summer. Hosta is easily propagated by diving the root clumps. With so many varieties of colors and sizes of hosta now available, it's very easy to find the ones that will suit your gardening needs.

Beacon Silver Spotted Dead Nettle
Beacon Silver Spotted Dead Nettle

Beacon Silver Dead Nettle

This is a deer resistant and low fast growing plant. You'll like its lovely silvery white and green leaves and the pink or lavender flowers that bloom in summer. The butterflies like it too. This is a shade resistant plant that will also grow in full sun if you keep it moist. During periods of high heat you'll want to deadhead the blooms and cut it back to keep it appearing neat. This plant can be easily propagated by either cuttings or root division.

Variegated Lilyturf

Variegated Lilyturf is another low growing and shade tolerant perennial that will also do well in sun. Its green leaves with creamy white stripes have a grass like appearance. From mid summer to fall it will produce spiky lavender and white bell shaped flowers. At the end of the season if it begins to look a little chewed or straggly simply cut it back.

Variegated Lilyturf
Variegated Lilyturf
Allegheny Pachysandra
Allegheny Pachysandra

Allegheny Pachysandra

Don't confuse this Allegheny pachysandra with the Japanese pachysandra that has a reputation for being invasive. This plant is slower growing and isn't anxious to take over your landscape. It is both drought tolerant and shade tolerant and will also grown in sun. Enjoy its pretty green leaves with silver accents and in spring it will offer little spiky white flowers that have a nice fragrance.

Dianthus Deltoides Confetti

I love this perennial dianthus and so do the butterflies. These deer and drought resistant plants are very easy to grow, even in poor soil. Plant them where they'll get plenty of sunshine and they'll grow in low spreading mounds to about a half a foot tall and give you dark pink or red flowers that bloom in spring and on and off all through the summer. You can grow these from seed or propagate by root division. It's hard to go wrong with these. I also like to use them in containers.

Dianthus Deltoides Maiden Pink
Dianthus Deltoides Maiden Pink
Two Row Stonecrop
Two Row Stonecrop

Two Row Stonecrop

This oddly nicknamed sedum spurium is a low growing evergreen ground cover that likes full sun. Its red flowers appear in midsummer and its leaves turn red in late season.

Yellow Archangel With Caution

Yellow archangel (lamium) is a fast growing, deer resistant perennial that will thrive in any kind of soil, light or moisture conditions. Sounds great, right? Not always. In some places its invasive behavior has earned it the title of noxious weed. Instead of variegated yellow archanged, choose a less invasive cultivar like Hermann's Pride (false lamium) which grows in clumps rather than spreading and will do a good job of staying put. Hermann's Pride is a shade loving and drought tolerant plant that will grow to about a foot tall and offer striking foliage and bright yellow flowers that bloom in spring. It also makes a very attractive container plant.

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Comments 26 comments

rprcarz50 profile image

rprcarz50 6 years ago

Hi Kay,

Very helpful Hub. I really enjoy this time of year when the gardens are really taking off .

Nice work !

thank you


As always also a2z50

Putz Ballard profile image

Putz Ballard 6 years ago

I just finished pulling the weeds from my varigated lilyturf, is it the same as "monkey grass" lots of hard work, I'm pooped.

Kay Creates profile image

Kay Creates 6 years ago from Ohio Author

Thanks Ron and Putz. Don't let those weeds beat you.

suzyh1951 6 years ago

Beautiful photos and great informative article.

Kay Creates profile image

Kay Creates 6 years ago from Ohio Author

Thank you for visiting suzyh.

valeriebelew profile image

valeriebelew 6 years ago from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA

This one's a bookmarker, Kay, as I'm still in the weed whacking stage of my landscaping work. I have some ground cover on the left bank side of my rose covered cabin, but may add some somewhere else as well, as money and time permit. Grass does not grow on this shaded lakefront property, and weeds grow a plenty. Thanks for ths hub; I'm voting it up, and useful. (: v

Kay Creates profile image

Kay Creates 6 years ago from Ohio Author

Thanks Valerie. So nice that you're living on the lake. I'm in the suburbs with too much grass to mow.

Rose Kolowinski profile image

Rose Kolowinski 6 years ago

I love the Cranesbill Geraniums! I will have to look for some because I'm trying to stick with all perennials. Thanks for another informative hub!

Kay Creates profile image

Kay Creates 6 years ago from Ohio Author

Thanks Rose. I love the little geraniums too.

True Blue Tips profile image

True Blue Tips 6 years ago

Great hub and some very beautiful pictures. Wish I had your green thumb!

Kay Creates profile image

Kay Creates 6 years ago from Ohio Author

Thank you True Blue

Teddletonmr profile image

Teddletonmr 6 years ago from Midwest USA

Kay, thanks for the great hub on ground cover plants. You have a lot of great pictures, I like them all. What to choose is my question. I do not have much luck getting anything to grow under my maple trees in the front of my house. Flowers that is, the fescue is doing fine, but that is about all, any suggestions would be great. Hub up, and thanks again...

RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

Thanks glad to learn of the difference in the Japanese and Allegheny pachysandra as I am getting ready to include pachysandra in my garden.

I've been wondering just what the Palace Purple Alumroot is...a nice clump has popped up in my shade bed. Thanks to you I can make sure it gets enough sun or move it from under my crepe myrtle trees.

Just last year I was given a new-to-me ground cover, Creeping Jenny. It's lime-yellow foliage is delightful and makes a hardy ground cover that recovers from drought even in pots. Makes a great "trailer" for filling in pots and spreads rapidly in the ground (but is easy to pull if it gets in the way).

mulberry1 profile image

mulberry1 6 years ago

Good information. I see a number of plants that I have in my own yard here.

liswilliams profile image

liswilliams 6 years ago from South Africa

those flowers are beautiful!

D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England

Hi K, another well written informative hub with beautiful photographs of beautiful subjects. Best wishes.

tim-tim profile image

tim-tim 6 years ago from Normal, Illinois

Love planting! Thank you for sharing your knowledge!

Kay Creates profile image

Kay Creates 6 years ago from Ohio Author

Thank you all for the kind comments

billyaustindillon profile image

billyaustindillon 6 years ago

I was looking for some good shade cover plants thanks for this.

Kay Creates profile image

Kay Creates 6 years ago from Ohio Author

Thanks for reading Billy.

Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 6 years ago from Wales

Hi Kay thanks for sharing this bautiful hub. We only have a small patio out the back but we have so many, flowers, veg etc growing out the back, there's nothing like seeing everything blooming to lift the mood of a grey day! Well done! Going to read some more of your work in a bit.

RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 5 years ago

I like the selection, especially Hosta and Beacon Silver Dead Nettle. Do they grow well in Southern California?

Thanks for sharing.

Kay Creates profile image

Kay Creates 5 years ago from Ohio Author

anginwu- My reference books say that they can be grown in Zones 3 through 9.

Six33 5 years ago

Quite informative. Really like the ability of the Blood-Red Cranesbill.

Diane 5 years ago

HELP ME. Last year my neighbours put up an ugly chain link fence. We are planing to do a garden with tall grasses, Hostas,black eye susans and maybe a couple more to try and hide there fence. The problem is the fence runs right on the edge of both our water run-off. The only time there is water is when we have a heavy rainfall. I just don`t want our garden soil to run when we do get rain, so I`m looking for ideas. Should I put ground cover on the back side of the garden. The fence area gets sun for most of the day. Just wondering if anyone can suggest a plant that will work. Thanks

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