Ground cover plants are used in flowerbeds, gardens, and other landscape spaces for a variety of reasons. They cover unplanted ground and make for a clean, neat appearance. Ground cover plants are combined with other types of plants and flowers to give a landscape depth and interest.
Plantain lilies are perennial summer bloomers that make good ground cover plants. Members of the hosta family, these ornamental plants bloom in shades of purple and white, and some have variegated foliage. Ranging in size from 6 inches to 3 feet tall, plantain lilies form in clumps of foliage that spread up to five times their height. Start these plants as seed and they will bloom the second year. They grow well in even the deepest of shady areas. Blooming is reduced in very shady areas, but the foliage thrives. If you are looking for more blooms, plant your plantain lilies in a partially shady spot. Plant them in moist, fertile soil and they will flourish. According to Michigan State University, plantain lilies grow best in Zones 3 to 9.
These extremely tolerant plants spread quickly to form mats of small, dense foliage. The foliage of this semi-evergreen ground cover ranges in color and texture, with succulent leaves in shades of red, bronze and green. Depending on the cultivar, the foliage may have variegation. Sedum spurium grows best in full to partial sun and moist soil, but it is exceptionally tolerant of most urban conditions. It can grow well in less-than-desirable conditions including thin soil, drought and extreme heat. As a member of the orpine family, this plant is not susceptible to any significant pests or diseases. According to the University of Illinois, sedum spurium is a hardy Zone 3 plant.
A favorite among ground covers, this perennial is well known for its soft, furry foliage. The leaves and stems are thick and silvery, and covered in felt-like fuzz. The plants can grow to be 10 inches tall and 30 inches wide, with a few flowers. This is not an evergreen ground cover, so its foliage will die out for the winter and reemerge the next spring. According to the University of Illinois, lamb’s ear is heat- and humidity-tolerant and grows best in full sun and well-drained soil. It is a hardy Zone 4 ground cover.
Coral bells plant is cultivated in a variety of leaf colors and textures. This perennial ground cover grows in 12- to 16-inch clumps with spires of flowers that stick out above the foliage. They generally prefer light shade, but some newer hybrids are more heat-tolerant. According to Fine Gardening’s Plant Guide, problems with this ground cover are infrequent. This is a hardy Zone 3 plant.