Shade loving groundcover

tanowickiMay 29, 2009

I have a narrow flower bed along the sidewalk in front of my house. It faces west and most things are quite happy there. Amongst the perennials planted I have two heathers, a kinnickinnick and periwinkle.

Heathers tend to grow super well in my yard but I don't think one in the bed is going to make it. It was doing fine until the dogwood tree came into bloom and leaf and now it's pretty much in full shade. I'm thinking I'm going to have to replace it with something that is more shade tolerant.

What would be a good option? The only real requirement is that it grow well, not be invasive and not be too tall. Preferences include it be flowering and native but those are necessary.

I was thinking something like a lithodora would be nice but I don't think it would survive the shade.

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Labrador violets are thriving in the shade here, as well as vinca (non-stoppable, lots of varieties) and miniature ivies. Heard impatiens does well in shade, haven't tried it yet.

Moss gardens are lovely. I may have to go to that. Only problem here, in willow thicket, willow sheds constantly so I'd have to vacuum the moss every day.

Just planted lots of persian / algerian miniature ivy which will eventually take over the ground. Have tried so many things, very wet and shady in 1/4 of yard and almost everything croaks. The creeping buttercup does well. Also planted lots of shade grass which so far is surviving its baby phase. Bird trefoil doing really well in here.

Will keep looking for an evergreen groundcover that can handle intense shade and wetness.

Lithodora is stunningly beautiful. Didn't survive in here. When there was sun it was happy.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2009 at 1:16PM
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dottyinduncan(z8b coastal BC)

Labrador violets are impossible to get rid of! I have themin my lawn, under everything in my perennial garden, everywhere! Are you looking for colour or? in your shade bed?

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 10:48AM
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homernoy(z8b Bemerton)

I really like the looks of Pachysandra terminalis. It's an evergreen groundcover that gets fairly inconspicuous white flowers in spring. This plant is also far from invasive and can take very deep shade, although it's not native to the PNW.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 11:19AM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

Bunchberry, deer fern, some bleeding hearts, sword fern are all natives

Pachysandra, ajuga, other bleeding hearts, hellebores, lily of the valley (invasive) aren't native but grow in shade

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 11:30AM
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hemnancy(z8 PNW)

Epimediums make a lovely groundcover, very choice looking leaves, spread slowly, and flower in the spring. The only care is cutting off the old foliage in spring. They are behind the hosta.

I use Pulmonaria like ground covers, they are beautiful in bloom in the spring and have great silvery variegated leaves the rest of the growing season.


    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 5:19PM
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reg_pnw7(WA 7, sunset 4)

Epimediums are an excellent suggestion.

Lithodora will not take either shade or wet.

Hellebores are evergreen and shade tolerant and they flower in late winter.

There's a dwarf species of Gaultheria that stays much shorter than salal does. Oregon wintergreen I think it's called. I see it up in the Olympics so it's not restricted to Oregon. Very nice evergreen native groundcover. Also look for twinflower, another native evergreen groundcover.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 11:17AM
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I have a native garden in my front yard and used kinnikinnik as the ground cover. It does well in both sun and shade, stays low and spreads laterally above ground, so it's easy to keep confined with an annual pruning. Sprouts small pink flowers in the spring.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 11:31AM
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Try saxifrages.
there are so many different ones, some spread faster than others and some take dryish shade,
they have airy delicate blooms above them, lots of different colors and textures to the foliage...

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 12:24PM
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pacnwgrdngirl(z8 WA)

I have Sweet Woodruff in bloom right now in the complete shade and it smells so pretty! It doesn't seem to be invasive either. I haven't fought with it at all.

violets = very invasive!

    Bookmark   June 1, 2009 at 12:57PM
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hemnancy(z8 PNW)

Labrador violets have not been invasive for me, I wish they would self-sow more, but at least they didn't die out the first year like so many other violets I have tried. I do have a weed violet that is VERY invasive, I think it is Viola conspersa, the dog violet. It is attractive though, so better than the weeds it competes with.

Here is a link that might be useful: native flower id site, conn

    Bookmark   June 1, 2009 at 4:43PM
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If you want a carpet of green, try Oregon sorrel, it's evergreen and very easy to rip out if you need to control it. It has small white flowers, not very showy. For some seasonal variation, try oak fern, gymnocarpium dryopteris. It's a low deciduous fern that spreads, makes beautiful swirling patterns of green. They're both native and do well in shade.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2009 at 7:42PM
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