Bring life to areas that receive partial shade in the garden with ground cover plants that feature variegated leaves, colorful blossoms, or both. Even if the ground is riddled with tree roots, you can usually find planting pockets.
To get your ground cover started, dig planting holes twice the size of the plants’ roots, fill partially with compost, add the plant and then backfill with compost. Water plants thoroughly before and after planting. Mulch between plants to retain moisture and prevent weeds.
Light Up Shade with Colorful Ground cover Plants:
- Dead nettle is an attractive relative of mint that loves partial shade. Varieties with delicate flower spikes and variegated leaves make dependable spreading perennials that are perfectly at home between foundation shrubs or tumbling along shady sidewalks. ‘White Nancy’ yields white leaves with green edges and white flowers, while ‘Beacon Silver’ has mostly silver leaves and pink blooms. Another pink bloomer, ‘Shell Pink’ features a silver stripe down the center of each leaf.
- Bugleweed is best known for its spikes of blue flowers in spring. Although it’s not just the flowers that make this a standout choice. ‘Burgundy Glow’ has variegated leaves that change their tint with the seasons, becoming redder in cool weather. ‘Black Scallop’ has very dark glossy leaves. Bugleweed can become invasive when grown in rich soil in a sunny site, but shade and cold winters slow its growth, making it easier to manage. To prevent reseeding, use a weed trimmer to lop off the bloom spikes soon after the flowers fade, before mature seeds have time to develop.
- Dwarf periwinkle covers the ground with starry purple blossoms in spring, and varieties with variegated leaves are less aggressive spreaders than those with glossy green leaves. Dwarf periwinkle is one of the few groundcovers that will grow near evergreen trees and can help stabilize sloping sites.
- Native wildflowers like foamflower grow into drifts of green leaves etched in bronze, topped by bottle-brush flowers in spring. They will grow into green carpets when planted in moist areas or near water features. ‘Running Tapestry’ spreads quickly in moist soil, and has green leaves marked with red and white flowers in spring.
- Violets, often regarded as weeds in lawns, are a valuable addition to the shade garden. When grown in clumps, they produce edible flowers for weeks while also serving as host plants for bright orange fritillary butterfly larvae.
Tip: Test more than one type of ground cover, because one species may like your shady spot more than another.