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The 5 Best Flowering Ground Covers

 groundcover flower carpet  The term “ground cover” often conjures up      visions of boring patches of plain green foliage—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 5 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.


I can’t resist the soft blues and grays of catmint (Nepeta spp.). My favorite is ‘Walker’s Low’ Its compact habit makes it a particularly pleasing ground cover around hydrangeas and other flowering shrubs. The 15- to 20-inch-tall mounds of gray-green foliage are attractive all through the growing season and emit a minty aroma when you brush against them. From late spring to midsummer, they’re topped with 6- to 8-inch-long spikes of purple-blue flowers; a light midsummer shearing encourages rebloom in late summer and fall. Once established, ‘Walker’s Low’ is extremely drought tolerant.
flower carpet scarlet

Red Cascade Rose. When in full bloom this trailing plant covers itself with small deep red, fully double flowers. It will make a very nice ground-cover rose, which works great in containers and hanging baskets, as the long canes trail over the sides for a beautiful show. Red Cascade has both R. wichurana and R. roxburghii in its ancestry. Petal 20, Bloom 1.5" 

Creeping rosemary is a hardy, fast-growing evergreen shrub, creeping rosemary has a prostrate habit and attractive flowers and fragrance. Dark green leaves, to 2 inches long, are rich in aromatic oils and commonly used as a culinary herb. This plant is loved for its strong pinelike flavor and fragrance.
Noteworthy characteristics: Ideal for a rock garden or the top of a dry wall. Makes an excellent groundcover. Care: Should be kept moist in well-drained soil and full sun.

Origanum laevigatum ‘Herrenhausen’

Oreganos are another excellent ground cover for those who enjoy fragrance and flowers. While the spicy-scented leaves of ‘Herrenhausen’ oregano (O. laevigatum ‘Herrenhausen’) lack the rich flavor of culinary selections, their showy clusters of purplish pink flowers and deep purple bracts add flavor to the landscape. The plants grow in somewhat sprawling, 1- to 2-foot-tall mounds, with small leaves that emerge purplish in spring, turn rich green in summer, and age to deep reddish purple in autumn. The 1- to 2-inch-wide bloom clusters appear in midsummer and keep coming into fall (especially with deadheading); they are favorites with butterflies and make terrific cut flowers, too. An extremely low-maintenance plant, ‘Herrenhausen’ tolerates heat and drought once established.

geranium groundcover

As with oreganos, a great number of geraniums make superb ground covers. Among these excellent options, ‘Rozanne’ (Geranium ‘Rozanne’ ) stands out for its abundance of blooms over an amazingly long season. Starting in early summer, the spreading mounds of deeply cut, lightly mottled green leaves are covered with 212-inch-wide, saucer-shaped blooms. In cool conditions or some shade, the flowers tend to be clear blue with a prominent white center; in hot weather or strong sun, they often appear more lavender blue with a tiny white eye. Shearing lightly in midsummer helps to tidy the plants and can promote rebloom well into autumn. This selection can be a little slower to sprout in spring than other geraniums, so interplant ‘Rozanne’ with spring crocus, species tulips, and other small bulbs if you want earlier color.

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