Groundcovers for Dry Shade

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Ground Covers for Dry Shade






Lily of the ValleyDry shade is always a tough spot to grow anything but weeds in for most gardeners.

Here is a collection of shade-loving perennials that thrive in dry shade.  The height and brief description of each is included.

Try these out in those troublesome spots.  Most will perform best in dappled shade or part shade. Needless to say, the ones that tend to be invasive do best in deep shade.  Plants with pale or variegated leaves will show up best and really brighten dark corners.


Plant Name Height (inches) Ground Cover Description
Aegopodium podagraria variegatum
Bishop's weed
10-12 Variegated, green and white foliage.  Very invasive.  Contain between cemented areas and deadhead flowers before they go to seed.
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi
4-6 Evergreen.  Red, edible berries.  Use beneath established evergreens or broadleaf evergreens in acid soils.
BergeniaSiberlicht.jpg (70x70 -- 4020 bytes)Bergenia 'Silberlicht'
Elephant's ears
8-12 Evergreen.  Large, rounded, leathery leaves form dense clumps. From late winter, pink to white flowers emerge on compacted spikes that gradually lengthen to about 1ft.
Campanula carpatica
Carpathian harebell
6-14 Can be invasive, but tends to spread slowly.  Blue or white flowers.
Convallaria majalis
6-10 Fragrant, white flowers in May-June.  Inedible, red berries.  Can be invasive.
Epimedium x versicolor
  Superb dry shade epimedium. Pink and yellow flowers on short stems in early spring. Young leaves are marbled bronze and coppery red - turning green in summer, but colors up again in autumn.
Galium odorata
Sweet woodruff
6-8 Very invasive.  One of the best covers under shrubs.  White, fragrant flowers in May-June.
geraniummacrorrhizumk.jpg (70x69 -- 16249 bytes)Geranium macrorrhizum
Hardy geranium
12-18 Semi-evergreen.  Aromatic rounded leaves. Pink flowers in spring.  Red foliage in fall.
Lamium maculatum Beaconsilver
Spotted dead nettle
6-10 Heart shaped leaves-silver mottling, white, pink or purple flowers - long bloomer.  For poorish soils and partial shade.  Can be invasive - shallow rooted plants are easy to move.
Lonicera japonica 'Halliana'
Hall's Japanese honeysuckle
6-12 Will also grow in full sun, but forms denser mats in shade.  This favorite vine is also great as a groundcover.  Fragrant white flowers turn buttery yellow as they age.  Semi-evergreen.
Mahonia repens
Creeping Oregon grape
6-12 Evergreen.  Yellow flowers in spring.  Holly-like foliage.  Inedible purplish berries.  Spreads by underground stems.
Penstemon_caespitosus.jpg (70x56 -- 9988 bytes)Penstemon caespitosus
Creeping or mat penstemon
12-24 Very prostrate mat of tiny narrow leaves.  Purplish  flowers in May-June.
Penstemon strictus
Rocky Mountain penstemon
24 Blue flowers in June-July.  Good cut flower too. Can be used for erosion control.
Pulmonaria "Lewis Palmer"
12-16 Light-spotted dark green leaves attractive all season.  White, pink or blue flowers in spring-some open pink and turn blue.
Polygonatum multiflorum
Solomon's seal
30 Stems emerge above a dense root system, reaching 1.5ft before bending to form loose arches.  Waxy white, green-tipped flowers.
Tiarella cordifolia
Foam flower
12-24 Woodland flower.  Toothy crinkly leaves form dense mats.  Foamy white flowers in spring.  Stick to this unimproved version of tiarella.  The others won't work in shade.
vincaminor.jpg (70x52 -- 1561 bytes)Vinca minor
4-6 Semi-evergreen.  White or purple flowers in spring.

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