Ground cover plants are the unsung superstars of any well-tended garden. Here are nine you need to know about now.

rosemary

Courtesy of Monrovia

Ground cover plants may not be the sexiest plants in the garden, but if you have a patch of bare earth between flagstones in a path, in a rock garden, under a stand of trees, or anywhere unsightly, you know how lovely they can be. Think of them as the quiet workhorses of the garden—filling in the nooks and crannies, replacing a thirsty lawn, or spreading across a shady patch. Now are you starting to see the appeal? 

But what are ground cover plants, exactly? “Ground covers are the plants that fill in the landscape and do exactly what the name says—cover the ground,” says Georgia Clay, the new plants manager at Monrovia nursery company. “They can be really short, like the kind you can walk on between paving stones, and they are wider than they are tall.” 

“Really,” she adds, “ground cover plants are about spreading out wide and covering a large swath of ground.”

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Ground cover plants are also beguilingly useful. They can cover slopes and provide erosion control, hold moisture in the soil, and they’re excellent at preventing unwanted weeds. They also reduce rain runoff and can even regulate soil temperature. “Ground covers are often planted around a shrub or larger plant that needs cooler roots,” Clay says. 

You can even use some ground covers to get rid of a lawn or in place of mulching. Says Clay, “The idea is to get creative with it.”

Here, a handy guide to nine ground cover plants, all of which are available from Monrovia.

Green Sheen Pachysandra

Green Sheen Pachysandra
Pachysandra terminalis ‘Green Sheen’

Photo courtesy, Doreen Wynja for Monrovia

Green Sheen Pachysandra offers deep green, glossy foliage. It’s evergreen, which means it will cover the ground four seasons a year, and works especially well under a tree canopy or where there’s shade and not many things will grow. 

Bronze Carpet Stonecrop

Bronze Carpet Stonecrop
Sedum spurium ‘Bronze Carpet’

Photo courtesy, Doreen Wynja for Monrovia

Stonecrop works well as a hearty rock garden plant and has excellent drought tolerance. In the summer, it puts out flowers that bees love, so stonecrop works as a pollinator plant, too. 

Lami Dark Purple Dead Nettle

Lamium Lami Dark Purple
Lamium maculatum ‘Dark Purple’

Photo courtesy: Joey Wiseman, ThinkPlants for Danziger

An herbaceous perennial, Lami Dark Purple has lush green and silver foliage with abundant purple flowers. Does well in part shade to full shade. 

Seascape Strawberry

Seascape Strawberry
Fragaria ananassa ‘Seascape’

Photo courtesy, Doreen Wynja for Monrovia

A fun and unexpected ground cover, Seascape Strawberries produce runners that can root themselves. They stay evergreen in frost-free areas and will produce berries from early summer into fall.  

Huntington Carpet Rosemary

rosemary
Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Huntington Carpet’

Courtesy of Monrovia

Works well in a water-wise garden with bright sun. This rosemary grows 1- to 2-feet tall and spreads 8 feet wide. It can be used spilling over a retaining wall or as a traditional ground cover. Low maintenance with fragrant foliage that can be used for cooking. 

Geranium ‘Rozanne’

Geranium Rozanne
Geranium ‘Rozanne’

Photo courtesy, Doreen Wynja for Monrovia

A dependable and spreading ground cover that prefers full sun but can handle a little bit of shade, this beauty has blue-violet blooms. Geranium ‘Rozanne’ mounds and spreads, while providing color late spring until fall. Not fussy about soil or pruning. 

Taiwan Mondo Grass

Taiwan Mondo Grass
Ophiopogon formosanum

Photo courtesy, Doreen Wynja for Monrovia

An evergreen grass with light green foliage and a super fine texture. Looks great under a large canopy of trees. Discovered in Taiwan by famed “plant hunter” Dan Hinkley.

Nitty Gritty White Ground Cover Rose

Nitty Gritty White
Rosa ‘BOKRARUISP’

Photo courtesy, Doreen Wynja for Monrovia

A low-growing, low-maintenance rose with a double bloom. Can be three feet tall by five feet wide. Flowers all season from spring to fall. Disease-resistant. 

Blue Chalksticks

Blue Chalksticks
Senecio serpens

Photo courtesy, Doreen Wynja for Monrovia

This low-growing succulent provides interesting texture and beautiful color to any sunny space. Great for hillsides and rock gardens, the silvery blue leaves add year-round interest.