Ground covers don't need to be bland mats of dull green leaves, even when planted in shady, rocky or hilly areas. There are plenty of easy-to-grow types of ground cover that also flower, providing cheerful color in spring and summer. Some are even suitable as accents to flower gardens or in planter boxes. Even when not in bloom, these ground covers are attractive, forming dense mats of leaves.
Creeping Basket of Gold
Creeping basket of gold, or Alyssum montanum, is covered with bright yellow flowers in spring, providing a burst of early color. During the rest of the year, it has showy gray-green leaves that grow close together. It is a low-growing ground cover, reaching an average of about 4 inches high. Each plant grows about 18 inches wide. Creeping basket of gold prefers full sun, and will grow well in difficult areas, such as around rocks and on steep slopes. It is also drought tolerant.
Miniature Mat Daisy
Miniature mat daisy, or Bellium minutum, lives up to its name; starting in late spring, miniature daisy-like flowers cover the entire plant. The blooms last through the summer. Miniature mat daisy is very low-growing, reaching only about 2 inches in height, with each plant spreading about 15 inches wide. It is one of the few shade-loving ground covers that blooms profusely. It can survive in a variety climates and soil conditions, but must receive regular moisture and will not tolerate drought.
Pink Chintz Thyme
Pink chintz thyme blooms earlier than most other varieties of thyme and when dead flowers are regularly removed it will continue to bloom through spring and early summer. The bright pink flowers are small, but so profuse that they cover almost the entire plant. Pink chintz thyme is another low-growing plant and is typically only about 1 inch tall and about 18 inches wide. It grows best in full sun and is drought tolerant, however, it will spread faster if watered regularly.
Periwinkle, or Vinca Major, is a fast-growing ground over that will thrive in just about any climate or soil, including shade, full sun, drought and regular freezes. In some areas, the leaves are evergreen. It blooms in late spring, when violet-blue flowers appear scattered across the foliage. Periwinkle will grow well on slopes or other areas that are difficult to cover. Plants average 8 inches high and can spread 36 inches or more. New shoots spread rapidly and can squeeze out other plants if not managed or trimmed regularly.
Speedwell, or Veronica liwanensis, is a popular fast-growing ground cover that is covered in bright blue blooms in early spring and again in mid-summer. In between blooms, the plant is still attractive with glossy, deep green leaves that form a thick mat. It is low-growing, averaging 2 inches high, with each plant spreading about 18 inches wide. It grows best in full sun or partial sun. Although it can tolerate drought, it may not offer up a second bloom in summer if it does not receive adequate water.