Flowering Ground Covers
To blanket an area small or large, these are the perennials to pick
by Nancy Ondra
â€˜Walkerâ€™s Lowâ€™ catmint, Zones 4 to 8 Photo/Illustration: Jennifer Benner
The term â€œground coverâ€ often conjures up visions of boring patches of plain green foliageâ€”adequate for simply filling space but hardly satisfying for the color-craving gardener. Fortunately, numerous spreading perennials do an equally good job protecting the soil and crowding out weeds while producing a bounty of beautiful blooms. Mass plantings of these easy-care perennials are great for new gardens because just a few can fill plenty of space, easing the strain on your budget. In established landscapes, linking individual shrubs into larger beds with flowering ground covers dramatically cuts down on tedious mowing and trimming chores.
The best ground covers for smaller spaces are those that have a long season of bloom but typically need light trimming or deadheading after the first flush to keep the flowers coming. Keeping these plants in manageable patches simplifies this modicum of maintenance because you can reach all of the plants from outside the bed. To fill a large space, you need a ground cover that will do much of the work for you. Fortunately, you have several good options: substantial clumpers that stretch widely in all directions, ground-hugging creepers with stems that readily take root where they rest on the soil, or spreaders that produce new plants from wide-ranging roots. All 10 flowering ground covers that I recommend earn top marks for their long bloom season, resistance to pests and diseases, and ability to fill quickly an area of any size.
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