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5 Of The Best Ground Cover Flowers

5 Of The Best Ground Cover Flowers

By Luminita Toma, Lawn Love
Photographs courtesy of Lawn Love

Don’t let “trouble spots” in your lawn and landscape get you down. Plant some of the best ground cover flowers to spruce up any area swarming with pesky weeds. Not only will they act as a barrier, covering the soil and keeping away weeds, but these babies will also add some seasonal beauty to your landscape and help control soil erosion.

Whether you’re looking for a showy lawn alternative or something new for your garden, these beautiful flowering ground covers can liven up any landscape.

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Photo Credit: Own Herby talk thyme | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0

1. Creeping Thyme (Thymus serpyllum)

Creeping thyme – also known as ‘mother of thyme’ or ‘wild thyme’ – adds a subtle but special touch to rock gardens, pathways, and dry spots. It’s a low-growing, woody evergreen with a strong, slightly minty fragrance and blue-green-hued leaves that will survive harsh winter weather.

The tiny, tubular bell-shaped blooms – ranging from deep pink to purple – will make an appearance on the upright stems sometime between June and September. If you’re looking for a plant that doesn’t need much maintenance and prefers average to medium dry moisture, consider planting creeping thyme. It won’t let you down!

Plus, it’ll serve as an ideal nesting spot and nectar source for bees and butterflies. Just make sure to prune those leggy, woody stems to encourage new growth in the spring.

General characteristics:

  • USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 4-9
  • Recommended propagation strategy: Seed
  • Spread: Rhizomes
  • Duration: Perennial
  • Flower color: Pink, purple, blue
  • Mature size: 2 to 6 inches tall
  • Sun exposure: Full sun, partial shade
  • Soil type: Well-drained, sandy, rocky soil
  • Maintenance: Prune in spring, water moderately, and avoid over-fertilizing.

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Photo Credit: G. Edward Johnson | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0

2. Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans)

Bugleweed is a perennial ground cover with a lot of character. Its showy purple flowers make a nice spring splash, while its dense mats of foliage can handle a range of conditions – from shade to sun, damp to dry soils, and even deer browsing.

To showcase its beauty, you can choose from different cultivars with different flower and leaf colors. Growing it is a cinch: divide it in spring or fall or sow its seed. Fair warning, be mindful of where you plant it because of its tendency to spread aggressively.

General characteristics:

  • USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 3-10
  • Recommended propagation strategy: Seed or division
  • Spread: Stolons
  • Duration: Perennial
  • Flower color: Purple, blue, pink
  • Mature size: 4 to 8 inches tall; 2 to 4 inches wide
  • Sun exposure: Full sun, partial sun, or shade
  • Soil type: Moist to moderately dry
  • Maintenance: Divide plants when they grow too crowded in the spring or fall.

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Photo Credit: Alexander Klink. | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 3.0

3. Ice Plant (Delosperma cooperi)

Ice plant is a perennially-blooming workhorse. It’s a tough, low-maintenance ground cover plant that thrives in dry climates.

It’ll create a beautiful carpet of vibrant green leaves and bright watermelon-pink and purple daisy-like flowers over a long period of time. No matter the planting conditions, such as rock walls, xeriscapes, gravel gardens, or containers, ice plant will do great. Its flowers can even withstand colder temperatures. However, it does not like soggy soil and is prone to winter kill if the temperatures are too extreme.

Plant it in well-drained soil, as this plant won’t tolerate heavy clay. For best blooming, give it a sunny spot and space the plants 16 to 24 inches apart. Toss in some gravel mulch to help the roots stay cool and hydrated.

General characteristics:

  • USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 6-10
  • Recommended propagation strategy: Root cuttings
  • Spread: Seed
  • Duration: Perennial, annual
  • Flower color: Pink, purple, yellow
  • Mature size: 3 to 6 inches tall
  • Sun exposure: Full sun
  • Soil type: Well-drained, sandy, sandy loam, gravelly soils
  • Maintenance: Prune in spring for new growth; mulch with gravel for best results; water regularly during dry spells.

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Photo Credit: I naturen | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0

4. Stonecrop (Sedum spp.)

If you’ve ever wanted a flower with its own superpower, look no further than the gorgeous sedum. From its tight root system to its stunning blooms and drought-tolerant resilience, sedum’s got it all. With more than 250 species, this genus of succulent, herbaceous perennial offers a variety of shapes and colors.

Whether you plant this rock gardener’s dream in a bed, border, or rock garden, the look is guaranteed to make heads turn. Plus, they’re super easy to take care of! Poor soil, sunny or lightly shaded areas? Sedum won’t complain.

Want to create a showstopper? Go for a mix of heights, from uprights for accent to rolling meadows. Most varieties boast tall clusters of purple, white, pink, or red blooms, but whichever color you choose, it’s sure to deliver vibrant color and texture. Low-maintenance and stunning? Talk about a win-win!

General characteristics:

  • USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 3-9
  • Recommended propagation strategy: Seed, stem, or leaf cuttings
  • Spread: Via stem rooting or rhizomes
  • Duration: Perennial
  • Flower color: White, pink, red, gold, yellow (depending on the variety)
  • Mature size: 6 to 24 inches tall
  • Sun exposure: Full sun, partial shade
  • Soil type: Good drainage to very dry; clay, loam, sand, shallow rocky soils
  • Maintenance: After flowering, prune plants to encourage fuller and sturdier growth. When plants are young, give them a good soak every week. When mature plants are not blooming, give them an occasional drink during dry spells. Give them some fertilizer if the soil is very poor. Divide in early spring or late summer.

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Photo Credit: David J. Stang | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0

5. Horned Pansy (Viola cornuta)

Let’s wind it down with the ornamental and cheerful horned pansy – a versatile, low-maintenance flower with lots of charm. One of the best features of the horned pansy is its lovely, intricate patterns combined with a vast array of colors, including white, yellow, purple, and blue.

It grows from three to nine inches tall and prefers partial or full shade as well as moist yet well-drained soil. In warmer climates, it may need more shade and protection from the scorching summer sun.

In mid-to-late spring the blooms open up with their signature two-toned petals and will bloom until late summer. Apply a bit of organic mulch in the fall to protect against cold temperatures. Be sure to deadhead the spent flowers for continual bloom throughout the season. Though the blooms may steal the show, we can’t forget to mention the ornamental foliage, which adds a lush, cheerful vibe to any garden.

General characteristics:

  • USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 6-11
  • Recommended propagation strategy: Division
  • Duration: Annual, perennial
  • Flower colors: Blue, violet, lavender, yellow, white
  • Mature size: 4 to 9 inches tall
  • Sun exposure: Partial sun, part shade
  • Soil type: Moist, well-drained, high in organic matter
  • Maintenance: Water regularly and apply mulch in the fall for protection. Deadhead throughout the season to promote continual bloom. Divide the plants every two to three years to ensure vigorous blooms.

Final Thoughts

While turfgrass is the go-to for most folks, ground cover flowers can give your outdoor space a colorful, textured look without all the fuss. Not to mention, these plants help block out pesky weeds, retain water, and can even offer a home for wildlife.

But before you start planting, it’s essential to think about size, spread, and what colors will work best together. If that seems like a lot to tackle, you can always get some expert advice from a pro gardener in your area. With the right combo, you can easily have a garden that will absolutely stun without spending too much time or energy.

Luminita Toma is a freelance writer and HR specialist from Romania. She holds a bachelor's degree in Modern Languages, majoring in English and Japanese. After gaining experience in different industries, Luminita decided to become a freelance writer. Currently, she focuses on writing articles about lawn care and gardening.

All articles are copyrighted and remain the property of the author.

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