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7 Types of Groundcovers for Shade

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With so many types of groundcover plants for shade, it can be difficult to decide which species is best. 

As an experienced landscaper, I have hours of experience with the different groundcover plants for shade. After careful consideration, I have compiled a list of seven groundcovers best suited for shady areas.

The overall best type of groundcover for shade is sweet woodruff. You can also consider bunchberry, lilyturf, and wild ginger. Each plant has unique characteristics that make them ideal for shaded areas.

This article will explore seven groundcover plants for shade, including their benefits and drawbacks. Whether you’re looking for a low-maintenance option or something more colorful, this article will help you find the perfect groundcover for your shady areas. 

Let’s get started!

7 Types of Groundcovers for Shade

NameUSDA HardinessCareFloweringHeight Spread
Sweet Woodruff4 to 8Low-maintenance, resistant to most pests and diseases, and can suppress weeds. It is also drought tolerant.Produces star-shaped white flowers in the spring6 to 8 inchesSlow to medium growth rate via underground rhizomes, up to 12 inches
Bunchberry2 to 6 Easy to maintain. Relatively tolerant to infestations, diseases, and drought.White four-petaled flowers4 to 9 inchesFast-growing by creeping rhizomes — 6 to 12 inches
Lilyturf6 to 10Minimal maintenance requiredSmall, purple flowers in the summer8 to 12 inchesSlow rate to a height of 12 to 18 inches
Wild Ginger4 to 9Easy to maintain  Small purplish-brown flowers in the spring6 to 10 inchesFast-rate by rhizomes between 12 to 24 inches
Bugleweed4 to 9Easy to maintainLavender blue flower spikes in the spring4 to 14 inchesFast-rate by runners between 5 to 8 inches
Goldenstar5 to 9Easy to maintainBright yellow star-shaped flowers in the spring6 to 8 inchesMedium by rhizomes up to 12 to 18 inches
Pachysandra3 to 9Easy to maintain as it requires little pruning and fertilizing. It is relatively drought-tolerant, and its dense foliage helps to suppress weeds.3 to 4 inchesSmall, white flowers that cluster during the spring and early summer months Fast-growing to a height of 8 to 12 inches

1. Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum)

Sweet Woodruff ( galium odoratum ) blooms in spring in wild forest

Sweet woodruff is an evergreen ground cover that grows in shady areas. 

Sweet woodruff is an excellent choice for adding color and texture to a shady landscape.

Sweet woodruff is also a great addition to any garden, as it has a pleasant scent and is easy to maintain. This low-growing plant is highly fragrant and produces star-shaped white flowers in the spring. 

You can use this shade plant to cover large areas or as an edging plant. Its foliage remains dark green throughout the year. 

2. Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis)

Bunchberry flowers or cornus canadensis growing as a carpet of wildflowers at the base of an aspen tree

This perennial wildflower produces white, four-petaled flowers in the spring. Clusters of bright red berries follow these flowers in the summer. 

Bunchberry’s glossy, evergreen foliage provides year-round coverage. It is an excellent choice if you want to create a lush, low-maintenance landscape in shaded areas.

Bunchberry is a hardy plant that can tolerate a wide range of soil pH levels. It is also drought-tolerant once established. 

Its clumping growth habit makes it ideal for controlling erosion in sloped areas.

3. Lilyturf (Liriope muscari)

Liriope muscari or liliturf flowers growing up in the garden on the background of green grass field garden

Lilyturf is a versatile ground cover that thrives in the shade. It is a low-growing plant with clumps of grass-like foliage that can reach heights of 8–12 inches.

Lilyturf produces columns of small, purple flowers in the summer. Its leaves turn golden brown in the winter. Lilyturf is a low-maintenance and durable groundcover that grows well in any soil type. 

You can use lilyturf in various applications, from edging walkways and garden beds to filling large, shady areas. 

Lilyturf is also an excellent choice for erosion control, as it can withstand heavy rainfall and is not easily uprooted.

4. Wild ginger (Asarum canadense)

Foliage of asarum canadense or Canada Wild ginger in the park

Wild ginger is a low-growing, shade-tolerant ground cover that provides a lush carpet of foliage. Its heart-shaped leaves are dark green and glossy, producing small, purplish-brown flowers in the spring. 

This perennial grows best in moist, well-drained soils in partial to full shade. It is a great choice for creating a low-maintenance ground cover in woodland gardens or areas with dense shade. 

Wild ginger is a hardy plant: it tolerates a wide range of soils and is deer resistant.

Wild ginger spreads by rhizomes, so it may require some maintenance to keep it from taking over.

5. Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans)

Carpet of bugleweed ( ajuga reptans ) flower spikes in spring garden

Bugleweed is an attractive ground cover that is ideal for shady areas. It is a perennial plant with dark green or bronze leaves and blue flower spikes that bloom in the spring. 

This plant is very hardy and can tolerate various soil types and conditions. 

Bugleweed is also relatively low maintenance, requiring only occasional trimming to keep it looking neat. It is a great choice for shady areas, providing a lush, colorful ground cover that will brighten any garden.

6. Goldenstar (Chrysogonum virginianum)

Yellow goldenstar flowers ( Chrysogonum virginianum )

Goldenstar is a perennial native to the eastern United States, ideal for areas with partial shade. This ground cover grows in a spreading, mounding way and produces bright yellow star-shaped flowers in the spring. 

Goldenstar is a hardy plant that will spread quickly. As a result, the ground cover forms a dense mat of foliage that weeds struggle to penetrate.

This hardy ground cover grows in clumps up to 8 inches tall and spreads up to 18 inches wide. 

This plant is an excellent choice for adding color and texture to a shaded area. You can use goldenstar to create a unique and beautiful landscape.

Plant goldenstar in woodland gardens, under trees, and along shaded pathways. 

This perennial is also deer-resistant and drought-tolerant, making it an ideal choice for low-maintenance landscaping.

7. Pachysandra (Pachysandra terminalis)

Pachysandra terminalis grows in a shady garden in summer

Pachysandra is another low-maintenance evergreen shrub ideal for ground cover in shady areas. It is a fast-growing groundcover that is easy to establish and gives a neat, clean appearance. 

Pachysandra is an excellent choice for creating a lush green carpet of foliage in areas with limited sunlight.

Conclusive Thoughts

Shade-loving groundcovers provide unique and beautiful ways to add texture and color to your garden. 

With so many different groundcover plants to choose from, you can find the perfect plant for your yard. Whether you prefer a low-maintenance option like lilyturf or a flowering ground cover like ajuga, you can find the perfect plant to inhabit a shady spot in your yard. 

With careful consideration and planning, you can create a lush and inviting area for you and your family to enjoy. What type of groundcover will you choose for your yard?


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