Shade loving ground cover plants

Updated November 21, 2016

Ground cover plants are low growing (generally less than 24 inches high) and spread easily. Many of these plants love the shade and add interest to your landscape. Places for ground covers include landscape medians, traffic islands, dry slopes and anywhere in your landscape you need significant coverage. Ground covers can help to reduce soil erosion, provide a variety of textures/colours and function as a transition between landscape spaces.

Common Periwinkle (vinca minor)

The common periwinkle is a ground cover that prefers partial to full shade and mild climates. It is an attractive evergreen and is valuable in yards or odd areas as a low maintenance ground cover. Plant in a space of at least 18 inches by 18 inches and apply fertiliser vigorously until the plant is well established. After the plant is established, little to no maintenance is necessary and plantings may be clipped to promote new growth. The plant is winter hardy and can be planted anytime of the year. Periwinkle prefers a moist, well-drained soil throughout the year. The runners of this plant will root at the nodes under moist conditions. It has thick, glossy leaves and small blue flowers that bloom from April to September.

Pachysandra (pachysandra terminalis)

Pachysandra, also known as Japanese pachysandra and spurge, is a medium-sized evergreen ground cover. It will get approximately 10 inches tall, and the plant spreads slowly through a combination of its basal shoots and leaning top growth. Pachysandra prefers partial to deep shade and moist, well-drained soil. It is recommended by the Ohio State University, to keep the plant in full shade with a rich, acidic and well-drained soil. The leaves will emerge medium-green and as they mature, they will turn dark green and glossy. Creamy white flowers that are approximately 1 to 2 inches will bloom from March to mid April. Once established the plant will form an attractive dense carpet of evergreen foliage.

Wintercreeper (euonymus fortunei)

Wintercreeper is an evergreen, which is sometimes vinelike, that will trail along the ground or climb by attaching itself with aerial rootlets. It can sprawl and spread up to 50 feet (sometime more) and forms a mound of up to 2 feet. Wintercreeper prefers full shade but will grow in partial shade and sun. The plant is not drought tolerant and thrives in all but soggy soils. It is a fast-growing evergreen that has many uses in the garden, such as controlling erosion on slopes. It is a sturdy ground cover and can be planted to grow up a trellis or a wall. Wintercreeper is winter hardy and has green, glossy leaves.

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