Groundcover Plants

• Find below photos and descriptions of some great ground cover plants.

• Groundcovers for shade, evergreen groundcover plants, groundcover for wet sites.

Ground cover plants are very useful when landscaping. Choosing the appropriate groundcover for your site will allow you to soften and beautify otherwise difficult areas in the garden. In nature plants which have adapted to grow low to the ground are often very tough.

Groundcover plants are often rapid colonisers of bare ground or poor soil. They can also be ideally suited to shade beneath trees or damp ground where little else would survive.

Vigorous groundcover plants can quickly suppress weed growth. Many groundcovers are evergreen or long-flowering therefore problem areas need not be bare or dull.

Acaena novae-zelandiae
pirri pirri, biddy biddy – NZ Native vigorous spreading perennial.
Ajuga reptans ‘Catlin’s Giant’ • Ajuga flowers
Eurasia – semi-evergreen groundcover, glossy foliage & blue flowers.
Arctostaphylos nevadensis
pinemat manzanita, Nevada bearberry – shrub – evergreen groundcover.
Azorella trifurcata
perennial from Chile and Argentina but can occur naturally in New Zealand forming a very low ground cover mat with yellow flowers spring.
Bergenia cordifolia • flowers
heartleaf saxifrage, pigsqueak – Siberia, Mongolia – leathery leaves and pink flowers in early spring. Bergenias are useful groundcovers for shade.
Carpobrotus edulis • flowers
hottentot fig, sourfig, fig marigold – South Africa – succulent coastal ground cover plant on dry sandy soils. Yellow flowers over a long period.
National pest plant (in New Zealand only) – see NPPA
Ceanothus ‘Blue Carpet’ • flowers
Californian lilac – USA – evergreen groundcover for dry sunny sites.
Coprosma acerosa f. mangatangi
sand coprosma – NZ Native ground cover – great coastal groundcover plant forming a dense mat of ocre-yellow needle-like leaves.
Coprosma acerosa ‘Hawera’
sand coprosma – NZ Native – forms a tight mat close to the ground.
Coprosma ‘Kiwi Gold’
NZ Native – low growing colourful evergreen groundcover.
Coprosma x kirkii ‘Variegata’
NZ Native – very low growing cheery ground cover plant.
Disphyma australe • flowers
pig’s face, Maori Ice plant, horokaka – NZ Native – low carpeting succulent coastal plant. Grows in sandy soils down to high tide mark.
Elatostema rugosum • leaves
parataniwha – NZ Native – grows naturally in North Island damp shady gullies, so ideal groundcover for shade or wet site groundcover.
Epimedium x versicolor ‘Sulphureum’
barrenwort, Bishop’s mitre – Attractive yellow flowers. Epimediums are great evergreen groundcovers for shade, especially in dry shade.
Epimedium x warleyense
barrenwort, Bishop’s mitre – attractive bronze new leaves. Evergreen groundcover for dry shade beneath trees.
Erigeron karvinskianus • groundcover on steep bank
Mexican daisy, Santa Barbara daisy – Central America – vigorous flowering ground cover for steep banks with adequate moisture.
National pest plant (in New Zealand only) – see NPPA 
Francoa sonchifolia • flowers in shade
bridal wreath – Chile – planted en-masse Francoa makes an excellent flowering groundcover for a border or even groundcover for light shade.
Fuchsia procumbens • flowers
Creeping or climbing fuchsia – NZ Native – unique upward-facing Fuchsia flowers. Dainty groundcover for shade spreading across the ground.
Geranium sanguineum
bloody cranesbill – Eurasia – long flowering perennial groundcover.
Grevillea ‘Poorinda Royal Mantle’ • flower
Australia – low ground cover plant for open sunny situations.
Helleborus argutifolius • flowers
Corsican hellebore – Europe – evergreen groundcover plant. Pretty white flowers. Hellebores are great groundcovers for shade beneath trees.
Helichrysum argyrophyllum • flowers
golden guinea flower – South Africa – beautiful carpeting groundcover plant with long-lasting flowers ideal for a sunny well-drained bank.
Hypericum calycinum
creeping St. John’s wort – Europe – semi-evergreen groundcover. Very tough flowering groundcover for dry shade.
Leptinella ‘Platts Black’
NZ Native – very low carpeting perennial. Good groundcover for wet sites with good drainage. Grows in sun or light shade. Button flowerheads.
Leptinella serrulata
NZ Native – low-growing groundcover. Green and burgundy fern-like foliage slightly more vigorous than ‘Platt’s Black’.
Microsorum pustulatum
hounds tongue fern – NZ Native – tough fern with leathery leaves. Evergreen groundcover for shade where soil is damp.
Omphalodes cappadocica
navelwort – Asia Minor – low bushy perennial groundcover plant for damp shade with bright blue flowers.
Pachysandra terminalis • groundcover for shade
Useful low-growing groundcover for shade or full sun (in sun leaves turn bright yellow). Grows happily almost anywhere as groundcover for wet sites or dry soils. Evergreen groundcover plant.
Pachysandra terminalis ‘Variegata’
N. America – Slightly less vigorous than green-leaf Pachysandra. Best as groundcover in a moist shady site to produce best foliage colour.
Persicaria affinis ‘Superba’ • Persicaria autumn leaves • flowers
Himalayan knotweed – Spreading groundcover, attactive flower spikes.
Persicaria microcephala ‘Red Dragon’
China – Vigorous perennail groundcover with attactive red foliage.
Polygonum capitatum
pink knotweed – China – very vigorous perennial groundcover.
Pratia angulata • Pratia flowers
NZ Native – panakenake – a mat-forming groundcover plant growing in damp areas. Sun or semi-shade. Dainty white flowers in abundance.
Primula capitata • flowers
primrose – Himalayas – planted em masse this primrose forms exquisite flowering groundcover in sun or shade, even in fairly dry soils.
Primula beesiana
China – candelabra primrose – perennial flowering groundcover for wet sites. Will self-seed and spread.
Primula bulleyana • flowers
China – candelabra primrose – wonderful groundcover for wet sites such as ditches or damp pond edges. Will self-seed and hybridise readily.
Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Prostratus’ • flowers
weeping / trailing rosemary – aromatic evergreen groundcover most effective when cascading down dry sunny banks or over walls.
Vinca major • periwinkle flower
Europe – greater periwinkle – very vigorous evergreen groundcover plant tolerating deep shade. Can be invasive in rich soils or sunnier sites.
Vinca minor ‘Variegata’
Europe – lesser periwinkle – smaller leaves than Vinca major, less vigorous and uninvasive. Low evergreen groundcover. Grows anywhere.