By: Liz Baessler
Groundcovers are an essential element in some gardens. They help fight soil erosion, they provide shelter to wildlife, and they fill in otherwise unappealing areas with life and color. Keep reading to learn more about selecting evergreen creeping plants for zone 8 gardens.
Here are some of the best plants for evergreen groundcover in zone 8:
Pachysandra – Likes partial to full shade. Reaches 6 to 9 inches (15-23 cm.) in height. Prefers moist, fertile soil. Effectively crowds out weeds.
Confederate Jasmine – Likes partial shade. Produces fragrant white flowers in the spring. Reaches 1-2 feet (30-60 cm.) in height. Drought tolerant and needs well-draining soil.
Juniper – The horizontal or creeping varieties vary in height but tend to grow to between 6 and 12 inches (15-30 cm.) As they grow, the needles mesh together to form a dense mat of foliage.
Creeping Phlox – Reaches 6 inches (15 cm.) in height. Prefers full sun. Likes well drained soil. Produces tiny needle-like leaves and lots of flowers in shades of white, pink, and purple.
St. John’s Wort – Likes full sun to partial shade. Reaches 1-3 feet (30-90 cm.) in height. Prefers well drained soil. Produces bright yellow flowers in the summer.
Bugleweed – Reaches 3-6 inches (7.5-15 cm.) in height. Likes full to partial shade. Produces spikes of blue flowers in the spring.
Periwinkle – Can be invasive – check with your state extension before planting. Produces light blue flowers in the spring and throughout the summer.
Cast Iron Plant – Reaches 12-24 inches (30-60 cm.) in height. Prefers partial to deep shade, will thrive in a variety of tough and poor conditions. Leaves have a nice tropical look.
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Ground covers are plants that cover the ground like a carpet. They can be prostrate, reaching only an inch or two in height, or somewhat shrub-like, reaching a couple of feet or more. Lower ground covers are usually more desirable in more manicured areas or at the front of a border, while larger ground covers are placed toward the center of a landscape bed or on slopes for erosion control. Ground covers should be dense enough to prevent weeds and to cover the desired area with no gaps. They can also be used as a grass substitute where grass isn't practical.
While pachysandra, ivy, and myrtle/periwinkle are among the most common evergreen groundcover plants, you’ll notice all three of them are absent from the list of varieties I’m about to introduce you to. Yes, those three groundcover species are good choices for a broad range of climates, but, well…. let’s talk frankly here… they are everywhere. If you’re anything like me, I’d much rather have a hardy, gorgeous evergreen groundcover that’s not already blanketing every other garden in my neighborhood.
And so, below are 20 evergreen groundcover varieties that are suitable for yards and gardens across much of the continent. I’ve separated them into three categories to make it easier for you to decide which ones are perfect for your piece of earth.
Here is a list of multiple groundcover varieties that fit into each of these three categories, along with growing information for each selection and a photo when possible.
Lily of the valley leaves and flowers (left), variegated cultivar (center) and berries (right). All parts of this ground cover are poisonous.
Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis) is a flowering perennial plant that grows well in the shade and spreads quickly to cover ground.
Although this fast-spreading plant thrives best in shady areas and woodlands, many gardeners consider it too invasive to plant in the garden. So, this may not be the best type of ground-covering plant if you only have a small garden. However, if you need a ground cover plant for a large area, then Lily of the Valley could be a good choice of flowering perennial for shade.
Lily of the Valley produces large leaves that can be up to 10” in length (25 cm). Small white bell-like flowers appear in the spring where they are famed for their strong scent.
One thing to consider before choosing this type of plant for ground covering is its toxicity. All parts of the plant are toxic and may cause digestive upset or skin irritations.
Ferns are great ground cover plants for shady areas in your garden – learn about the many types of ferns and how to care for them.