Reasons for planting ground cover are not always aesthetic. Choosing a ground cover involves more than what flower is prettiest or smells the best. What about that shady spot where lawn grass refuses to grow? Is the hillside at the back of the property too steep to mow? Has a section of the yard begun to erode away because of the recent rain? What about the sections adjacent to the house and garage where nothing seems to grow? A white flowering ground cover may be the answer.
Japanese spurge, an evergreen that blooms in the middle of spring, is suited for deeply shaded areas. Evergreen candytuft prefers bright sunshine and blooms late spring. Both will do well in moist, well-drained soil; however, the candytuft boasts clusters of 2-inch blooms and the Japanese spurge’s flowers are very sparse and small. Consider placement of the white flowering ground cover relative to available sunlight, and determine how conspicuous the flowers will be.
The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map demonstrates the areas acceptable for growth of plants by climate. Some ground covers cannot survive hot or cold temperatures as well as others. Monroe’s white, a spiked border grass flower, is designated to zones 6 to 10, which covers the bottom half of the United States. On the other hand, lily of the valley, with fragrant, delicate, bell-shaped blooms, will prosper as far north as Canada, but not in the Southern states. Use the zone map as a resource to make a prudent choice.
The range of sizes of ground cover plants extends not only to height, but to spread as well. A white coneflower, very similar to a daisy, can grow to almost 3 feet. Snowflake phlox, with the look of a blanket of freshly fallen snow, will be only 4 to 6 inches tall. Either flower will take up 24 inches of garden space due to the expansive growth pattern. The lily of the valley is a mere 6 inches in diameter.
Soil can be rich and loamy, dry and sandy, or moist clay. Understanding the type of soil the ground cover will be planted in and the kinds of soil certain ground covers tolerate is important. White Nancy, a dense, thick carpet with clusters of small white flowers, requires a nutrient-rich, moist, well-drained soil. Snow on the mountain, resembling Queen Anne’s lace, will adapt to any well-drained soil conditions.
In some cases, creativity and artistry become paramount. False spirea, or goat’s beard, flaunts feathery, spiky blossoms to attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Palace purple, named for its reddish-purple foliage and stems, provides a striking background for its off-white blooms in the summer. White myrtle is a showy, dense mat of small flowers seen adorning rock gardens or cascading over retaining walls