Documents: Container & Small Space Gardening:

Groundcovers for the Shade
by iVerde
September 11, 2016

Groundcovers are essential in the garden. Since they create a thick carpet of plants, they are perfect for filling in bare spots. But do groundcovers also grow in spots that receive little if any sunlight? Yes, some of them really do! Certain varieties – both evergreen and deciduous – creep over shady spots with ease.

What are groundcovers?

Groundcovers are tough, low-growing perennials that spread by sending out runners. In this way, they quickly form a beautiful low-maintenance carpet. Perennial groundcovers are ideal to plant under trees and shrubs. A big advantage provided by groundcovers is that their density makes it very difficult for weeds to become established.

Time to get going!

Groundcovers are available in a wide range of varieties and colors. Before actually planting them, you should start by removing any weeds already growing at the location. Then work a thick layer of compost or manure through the existing soil during the planting process. This will give you years of pleasure from your groundcovers. But what about maintenance? This is very simple: if the plants begin to spread more than you want, just prune them back a bit. Applying fertilizer a few times a year is also a good idea, especially for flowering varieties. You can plant groundcovers at any time of year as long as the temperature is above freezing. More information is available at

Evergreen groundcovers

Many people choose evergreen groundcovers because they can be enjoyed all year round. One of the most familiar is Japanese Spurge (Pachysandra terminalis). This plant also produces charming, rather inconspicuous, little white flowers in March/April. Another well-known groundcover is Barren Strawberry (Waldsteinia ternata), a very strong evergreen creeper that produces beautiful yellow flowers in the spring. Dwarf Periwinkle (Vinca minor) is another of these classics. This plant produces its typical blue or white flowers in the spring but can often provide a repeat flowering during the summer. Other popular varieties are Ivy (Hedera helix), Knotweed (Persicaria) and Greater Wood Rush (Luzula sylvatica). And they all love the shade, too!

Deciduous groundcovers

A deciduous groundcover that dies back during the winter loses its leaves during part of the year. Although this means that the ground is visible during the winter months, these plants add even more excitement to the garden during the other seasons of the year. Here are 10 of the best that are suitable for shady places.

1. Wild Strawberry (Fragaria vesca)

2. Barrenwort (Epimedium)

3. ugleweed (Ajuga reptans)

4. Labrador Violet (Viola labradorica)

5. Lungwort (Pulmonaria)

6. Cranesbill (Geranium)

7. Coral Bells (Heuchera)

8. Foamflower (Tiarella)

9. European Wild Ginger (Asarum europeum)

10. Lady's Mantle (Alchemilla)

Did you know that...

variegated leaves can even make a shady spot lighter? The light places on their leaves actually brighten up a shade border to give it more character. Examples of variegated shade-loving perennials are Variegated Dwarf Periwinkle, Variegated Bugleweed and Variegated Lungwort.

  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row