Perennial Ground Cover Plants

Updated February 21, 2017

Ground covers are low-growing plants that are commonly used to cover empty patches of ground between and under plants. Ground covers help to enhance the look of gardens and serve a number of practical purposes, such as preventing soil erosion and providing habitats for beneficial garden insects. During winter, ground covers help stabilise snow and reduce drifting, and during summer, they cool the air with transpiration and oxygenation. Ground covers are also mostly drought-tolerant and deep-rooted, requiring less watering than a lot of other turf grasses.

Trailing Indigo Bush

Trailing indigo bush (Dalea greggii) is a low-growing, perennial ground cover with small, grey leaves. The plant has a number of fine stems that grow from the centre of the plant and take root as they grow along the ground. Trailing indigo bush is a fast-growing plant that creates a dense mat when planted close together. During spring, the plant blooms with dark purple flowers. Trailing indigo bush is also referred to as creeping dalea. It reaches a mature height of 1 to 2 feet. The plants grow well in USDA zones 1 to 4 and tolerate temperature as low as -9.44 degrees C. Recommended time for planting trailing indigo bush is during fall and spring in full sun. When intended as ground covers, space the plants about 3 feet apart. The plants grow well in a wide variety of well-drained, fertile soil.


Lantana (Verbenaceae) is a perennial ground cover related to the tropical ornamental plants verbena and petrea. Lantanas are popular deciduous or evergreen perennial shrubs and vines that are also widely grown as ground covers. The plants have opposite green leaves with deep, sunken veins. The colours of the flower of lantanas differ greatly with variety and include yellow, pink, red and orange. As a ground cover, lantanas grow optimally in USDA zones 8 to 10. They tolerate nearly all soils, except water logged environments. Plant in full sun and in areas with air circulation. If grown in shade, the leaves are likely to get mildew.

Creeping Phlox

Creeping phlox (Phlox subulata) is a perennial ground cover that blooms prolifically with bright pink flowers from April to May. When the plants are not in bloom, they resemble a thick of moss with upward-growing foliage. Creeping phlox is also referred to as thrift and moss pink. The plants reach a mature height of 3 to 6 inches and have a spread of 2 or more feet. The plants are hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9, and grow best in full sun and well-drained soil. Creeping phlox blooms early in the spring and can be planted in spring and summer. The plants make an attractive addition to window planters.

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About the Author

Irum Sarfaraz is a freelance writer with over 20 years of nonfiction writing experience in newspaper op-eds and magazine writing, book editing, translating and research writing. Sarfaraz is originally from Pakistan and has been published in both American and Pakistani newspapers and magazines. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature, and diplomas in nonfiction writing.