Ground Cover Perennials

Carpets and cushions of colour

An attractive way to cover the earth and suppress weeds, perennial ground cover plants largely take care of themselves. Use them to brighten up the ground below roses and shrubs, among tall flowers, or in a rock garden.

There are many shapes and sizes of perennial ground cover plants, from ground-hugging mats to spilling mounds. There is some­thing to suit most gardens.

Many herbaceous plants are ideal for use as ground cover. The most suitable are those which have the following characteristics:

• Do not grow more than about 50cm high

• Do not need staking

• Have a spreading habit

• Cover the ground densely.

ground cover perennialsSuch plants are hardy and disease free, and need little attention through the year. Once these plants are well-established, they reward you with a colourful display of flowers or unusual foliage as well as a respite from weeding since weeds have no room to grow.

Planting schemes

Perennial ground cover plants complement other groups of plants, such as larger herbaceous plants, roses, shrubs, small conifers and grasses. You can also grow them on their own in an area where minimal height is required, for exam­ple under a low window or in a rock-garden.

With careful planning, it is easy to have a good display throughout the growing season, from early spring until late summer. (See chart below for suggestions).

After they have flow­ered, the foliage of ground covers provides a foil for later-flowering plants. If you want a colour other than green for the whole growing season, choose ground covers with unusually coloured foliage.

Ground cover perenni­als which flower in spring blend well with spring-flowering bulbs, such as tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, scillas and grape hyacinths. This planting scheme also has a practical advantage. Once the bulbs have finished flowering, the ground cover plants help to disguise the bulbs’ leaves as they die. The ground covers then grow up during the late spring and summer and fill the bed without requiring any further work from you.

IMPORTANT

Most plants suitable for ground cover are hardy and long-lived. However, you should check each year that they are not becoming old or weak, and propagate any that are. It is wise to have some young plants ready to replace older plants in case they die during winter.

With careful planning, it is easy to have a good display throughout the growing season, from early spring until late summer. (See chart below for suggestions).

After they have flow­ered, the foliage of ground covers provides a foil for later-flowering plants. If you want a colour other than green for the whole growing season, choose ground covers with unusually coloured foliage.

Ground cover perenni­als which flower in spring blend well with spring-flowering bulbs, such as tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, scillas and grape hyacinths. This planting scheme also has a practical advantage. Once the bulbs have finished flowering, the ground cover plants help to disguise the bulbs’ leaves as they die. The ground covers then grow up during the late spring and summer and fill the bed without requiring any further work from you.

Planting and care

When choosing ground cover plants, make sure that they suit the same position and conditions as the planned companion plants.

Follow the planting instructions for the chosen species. Water the young plant regularly until it has become established, espe­cially in dry weather.

When ground cover begins to look weak and straggly, lift and divide the roots in winter, replanting only the healthy sections.

If they are planted with bulbs, try not to injure the bulbs when you dig over the ground. Replant any bulbs accidentally dug up and they will still flower next season.

—- TIP—–

PROPAGATING

When perennial ground cover plants become old or straggly, it is time to propagate them. If suit­able for the plant, lift the roots after the foliage has died down in winter. Divide the roots into separate plants with a sharp knife and replant, discarding old and diseased sections. Other­wise, propagate by taking cuttings in summer. Grow them in pots indoors during winter to plant out in spring.

POPULAR VARIETIES

Flowering ground cover for spring and summer

The following plants can be chosen to flower together, in seasonal sequence, as complementary colours to taller flowers, or to flower when the taller plants do not

Name

Flower colour

Height  (cm)

Flowering period

       

Grow in full sun:

     

Alyssum

yellow

15-30

April-May

Aubretia

mauve, pink, white

10-15

April-May

Arabis

white, pink

10-20

April-May

Candytuft (Iberis)

white

15-30

April-June

Thrift {Armeria)

white, pink, red

10-15

May-June

Snow-in-summer (Cerastium)

white (grey leaves)

10-20

May-June

Soapwort (Saponaria)

white, pink

15-20

June-July

Stonecrop (Sedum)

white, yellow, red

5-20

June-July

Rock rose (Hclianthemum)

white, yellow, pink, red

10-20

June-July

Pink (Dianlhus)

white, pink, red

10-20

June- Sept

Grow in sun or partial shade:

     

Leopard’s Bane (Doronicum)

yellow

20-30

March-April

Saxifrage (Saxifraga)

white, pink, red

5-20

May-June

Foam flower (Tiarella)

white

15-30

May-June

Cranesbill (Geranium)

white, pink, blue, purple

10-45

June-July

Bellflower (Campanula)

white, blue, pink

15-25

June-July

23. August 2011 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Ground Cover Plants, Perennials, Plants & Trees | Tags: | Comments Off on Ground Cover Perennials

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: