The 20 most beautiful groundcover plants

The 20 most beautiful groundcover plants

Easy to maintain and beautiful – groundcover plants are an indispensable part of every garden. Find out about the 20 most gorgeous groundcovers here.

Large garden beds that look magnificent but do not require much maintenance? That sounds like an unattainable dream but it is actually easily achievable thanks to groundcover plants. Groundcover plants grow quickly and soon coat the whole bed with a carpet of green leaves and beautiful flowers, protecting the soil and suppressing weeds at the same time. Since most species are also robust and easy to care for, groundcovers are ideal for low-maintenance yet vivacious gardens. The following overview lists the best looking groundcover plants.

Groundcovers for your garden: the 20 most beautiful varieties

Groundcovers are stunning yet easy to maintain. These varieties are truly a feast for eyes:

1.      Common soapwort

Not just its white or slightly pink flowers make the common soapwort (Saponaria officinalis) a beautiful groundcover; its sweetish-floral scent, which the plant exudes especially in the evening hours, is an insect magnet and is alluring even to the human nose. Because it is undemanding, fast-growing and resilient, the common soapwort can manage with ease in almost any garden. However, caution is also advised: the soapwort spreads rapidly and is an expert at growing in areas, where you do not want to grow it at all.

2.      Shrubby milkwort

With its bright two-colour flowers in purple and yellow – the shrubby milkwort (Polygala chamaebuxus) is hard to miss. But despite its beauty the shrubby milkwort is anything but care-intensive. It’s quite the contrary – very low maintenance, the only thing it does not handle well is waterlogging. What is more, the milkwort does not just retain its gorgeous looks in summer. Even during winter, the 20 cm high shrub preserves its leaves and thus keeps the beds full of green also in the colder seasons.

3.      Phlox

If you want to turn your rockery garden into a sea of flowers, the creeping phlox (Phlox subulata) is the perfect choice. Between April and July, the plant transforms into a carpet of countless star-shaped flowers which, depending on the variety, shine in colours ranging from white to carmine red. The phlox blooms particularly beautifully in fully sunny places, an annual pruning does no harm to it, although it is rather a slow-growing groundcover. Other than that, the creeping phlox is a perfectly uncomplicated groundcover plant.

4.      Lampranthus

Radiant flowers in bright colours – the lampranthus (Lampranthus) is a highlight of every garden. Especially its striking flowers, which in their perfection often give the impression that they are made of plastic, give the plant its appeal. Unfortunately, this flower splendour only shows itself on full sunny days, which is why the lampranthus is nicknamed ‘Mittagsblume’ or ‘midday-flower’ in German. Although the lampranthus is actually very robust and needs little care, the succulent cannot cope with harsher winters in temperate climate zones. However, you can simply remove the plant from the bed and leave it indoors for the winter or plant it again in spring using cuttings.

5.      Speedwell

More than 450 species belong to the genus Veronica which is characterized not just by its easy-care species but also by its colour-intense flowers. However, not all of them are suitable as groundcover plants as the diversity within the plant genus is enormous. Some species can grow up to 2 m, while others only reach a size of 20 cm. The rock speedwell (Veronica prostrata) and the creeping speedwell (Veronica peduncularis), both of which are dazzling especially when in bloom, have proved to be great as ground-covering plants.

6.      Woolly hedgenettle

Are you perhaps interested in a plant you can pet? Yes, you read the previous sentence correctly, the leaves of the woolly hedgenettle (Stachys byzantina) are so soft that they are often compared to an ear of a hare or a donkey. The reason for this are the woolly hair-like filaments, which give the evergreen leaves not only a great texture but also an unusual appearance. The hedgenettle’s flowers are in comparison to its unique leaves subtle but with their pink to silvery-white colour they are by no means to be overlooked. The woolly hedgenettle prefers sunny locations but the evergreen plant reacts very sensitively to waterlogging.

7.      Dwarf periwinkle

The name of the dwarf periwinkle (Vinca minor) is telling of its appearance. With a height of only 10 to 30 cm, the plant is hardly a giant. Interestingly, it retains its beautiful, dark green leaves in winter. The periwinkle becomes particularly gorgeous in spring – from April to September the plant carries small blue flowers, which transform it from an inconspicuous looking plant into an astonishing groundcover. In addition, the periwinkle is also extremely easy to upkeep and is adaptable, so it can thrive in almost any location.

8.      Woodruff

The sweet-scented woodruff (Galium odoratum) is not only extremely popular in terms of its smell but is also an excellent groundcover. Especially in shady beds, the forest plant spreads itself and captivates with its aromatic smell and tiny white flowers. The woodruff is also impressive because of its robust and easy to care for nature. However, it is not recommended to use the woodruff in the kitchen because overdosing can quickly lead to dizziness, headaches or even liver damage.

Galium odoratum
In our opinion. the woodruff is one of the most underappreciated plants in the natural world [ fotomarekka]

9.      Armeria

The plants of the Armeria genus are real stunners. The plants form single standing inflorescences, on each of which a hemispherical flower in a red, white or yellow colour. The bushy, winter-green shrub is not only beautiful but also very sturdy. Despite its height of up to 20 cm, the plant is surprisingly resistant to wind, making it ideal for planting in gardens by the sea.

10. Stonecrop

The name stonecrop might not at first sound very appealing but the plant to which it refers is stunning in many ways. The stonecrop (Sedum) captivates with its beautiful flower ‘umbrellas’, but its leaf rosettes, that range in colour from silver-green to copper-red, are especially remarkable. With almost 500 varieties, the stonecrop has so many variations to offer. Unfortunately, only the smaller varieties, such as the white stonecrop (Sedum album), are fitting to grow as groundcover.

11. Felt hornwort

Whether as an evergreen groundcover or as an ornamental plant in the alpine garden: the felt hornwort (Cerastium tomentosum) is very versatile. With its grey-felt leaves and rapid growth, the plant is ideal as a groundcover for sunny locations. In May, the hornwort blooms in large, radiant white star-shaped blossoms, which also earned the plant its nickname Snow-in-Summer.  

12. Bellflower

Bellflowers (Campanula) are already a beloved garden plant because of their pretty flowers, but they have a lot more to offer than their beauty. In fact, many bellflower species are also ideal groundcover plants. The Campanula genus provides something for every garden: the Serbian bellflower (Campanula poscharskyana) prefers shade, the earleaf bellflower (Campanula cochleariifolia) is, above all, characterized by its resilience during winter and the Carpathian bellflower (Campanula carpartia) has not only blue, but also violet and white flowers, depending on the variety.

13. Pennywort

With its good growth and easy care, the pennywort (Lysimachia nummularia) has already proved its worth as a groundcover in many gardens. It is particularly suited for growth at the edges of ponds because it thrives well on damp soil. The round, light green leaves and the cent-sized, golden yellow flowers, that the plant has, are also very adorning.

14. Evening primrose

Beautiful by day and by night – with its charming and delicate flowers, the pink evening primrose (Oenothera speciosa) shows its beauty incessantly. It is rather persistent and blooms continuously from June to September. Only the harsh winter is not tolerated well by this groundcover plant – if the temperatures drop too low, parts of the beautiful plant can freeze to death. However, the evening primrose is blessed with persistent vitality, so it can come back to life in spring and continue to adorn the garden throughout the warmer part of the year.

Oenothera speciosa
Pink evening primrose has one of the most remarkable flowers [ Andrey Shcherbukhin]

15. Wild thyme

If you are looking for a groundcover appealing to all the senses, the wild thyme (Thymus serpyllum) is exactly the right plant for you. With its small pink to purple flowers, the wild thyme is not only an eyeful when it comes to appearance, its scent also enchants every herb lover. Also in its taste the wild thyme is in no way inferior to its big brother, the garden thyme (Thymus vulgaris) and is an excellent herb. Since the wild thyme is evergreen and easy to upkeep, it is a perfect groundcover plant for your garden.

16. Dead-nettle

Whether in the sun or in the shade, the dead-nettle (Lamium) is suitable for almost every location. In terms of horticulture, the dead-nettle is particularly interesting because of its versatility. There are around 50 species that can be deciduous, wintergreen, annual or perennial. All of these variant have leaves that resemble a nettle (but they fortunately do not sting) and have pretty flowers. Dead-nettles are also hardy, persistent and easy to maintain.

17. Bloody crane’s bill

The bloody crane’s bill (Geranium sanguineum) is probably one of the most popular perennials in hobby gardens. And there is no wonder why it enjoys such popularity, from May to September this plant is embellished with magnificent red flowers. Moreover, this perennial plant requires low amount of care. It thrives especially in sunny locations.

18. Fairy wings

It is a jewel in gardens with a lot of shade – the fairy wings (Epimedium) or barrenwort is impressive due to its beautiful foliage and stunning flowers. Generally speaking, there are several types of fairy wings and these can be divided into two large groups. First, the wintergreen representatives are extremely robust and vigorous and therefore particularly suitable as groundcover. Second, the deciduous species are more sensitive to waterlogging, but show an astonishing abundance of flower variations. Both groups provide a perfect groundcover for gardens with a lot of shade.

19. Canadian dwarf cornel

Most people regard dogwoods (Cornus) more often as decorative trees and not necessarily as ground-covering plants. But there is a perennial groundcover plant in this genus. The Canadian dwarf cornel (Cornus canadensis), also called creeping dogwood, is only a few centimetres tall and is perfect as groundcover for shady gardens. From July to August, the plant charms not just with its beautiful leaves, but also with its white or pink flowers. Later, the Canadian dwarf cornel bears eye-catching red berries, which are non-toxic.

20. Houseleek

Heat, cold, drought? None of these cause a problem for houseleek (Sempervivum). The extremely durable miniature perennials of this genus grow where hardly any other plants survive. The houseleek remains green even in winter. The thick-leaved plants require sunlight, otherwise they lose their characteristic shape and do not flower. In addition, its appearance makes the houseleek a great groundcover: almost 3000 varieties with interesting rosette shapes, beautiful leaf colours and prominent flowers offer all kinds of variations that many passionate gardeners have grown to love.

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