18 Ideal Groundcover Plants for Dry Shade

Learn about groundcover plants that will thrive in dry shade and grow successfully in your lawn and garden spaces.

Blue Creepers DK - Simple Steps to Success: Lawns and Groundcover © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Bugle (Ajuga reptans)

A creeping, semi-evergreen perennial, bugle has glossy, rosette-shaped, dark green foliage, although there are varieties with crimson, purple, and bronze leaves. In early summer, short blue or white flower spikes provide an interesting contrast to the leaves. This fully hardy plant prefers well-drained to moist soil and partial sun. H: 6 inches; S: 24 inches

Bear Berry Groundcover Used in Dry Shady Area DK - Simple Steps to Success: Lawns and Groundcover © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Bear Berry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)

This plant is a low-growing, evergreen shrub that bears shiny, dark green leaves that take on a striking bronze hue in the fall. It bears small, bell-shaped, pink flowers in spring followed by deep red berries. It requires acid soil for successful growth. This fully hardy plant prefers well-drained to moist soil and partial sun. H: 8 inches; S: 9 feet

Harts Tongue Fern Groundcover DK - Simple Steps to Success: Lawns and Groundcover © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Hart's Tongue (Asplenium scolopendrium)

An upright and evergreen perennial, hart's tongue fern is ideal for covering steep, shady banks when planted as a group. It has green, tongue-shaped, leathery fronds—the rust-colored spores are arranged in a herringbone pattern on the underside. This fully hardy plant prefers well-drained to moist soil and partial sun. H: 20 inches; S: 24 inches

Elephant's Ear DK - Simple Steps to Success: Lawns and Groundcover © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Elephant's Ear (Bergenia cordifolia \"Purpurea\")

This classic evergreen perennial for shady borders is known as elephant's ears for its large, rounded, deep green leaves that turn purplish in the fall. It has a clump-forming style and has pink, bell-shaped flowers on reddish stems in late winter and early spring. This fully hardy plant prefers well-drained to moist soil and partial sun. H: 18 inches; S: 20 inches

Jack Frost DK - Simple Steps to Success: Lawns and Groundcover © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Jack Frost (Brunnera macrophylla)

This spring-flowering perennial bears large, pointed, heart-shaped leaves up to 6 inches (15 cm) long and upright clusters of pale blue flowers, similar to forget-me-nots. A fast-spreading plant, it looks good when planted around taller shrubs or under trees. This fully hardy plant prefers well-drained to moist soil and partial sun. H: 18 inches; S: 24 inches

Cyclamen Groundcover DK - Simple Steps to Success: Lawns and Groundcover © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Cyclamen (Cyclamen hederifolium)

This fall-flowering, tuberous perennial has impressive pale to deep pink flowers, each with a deep red flush at its mouth. The foliage, which is ivylike in shape with green and silver mottling, appears after the flowers. It requires fertile soil. This fully hardy plant prefers well-drained to moist soil and partial sun to complete shade. H: 6 inches; S: 6 inches

Breath of Fresh Air DK - Simple Steps to Success: Lawns and Groundcover © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum)

A useful groundcover plant for poor soil, sweet woodruff is a vigorous, mat-forming perennial that provides a carpet of bright green, lance-shaped leaves in woodland gardens and shady borders. Clusters of white, starry flowers appear in spring. This fully hardy plant prefers well-drained to moist soil and partial sun to complete shade. H: 16 inches; S: 5 feet

Green Glacier DK - Simple Steps to Success: Lawns and Groundcover © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Glacier Ivy (Hedera helix)

A useful wildlife plant for both birds and insects, 'Glacier' has impressive triangular green leaves with attractive gray-green and cream variegation. An evergreen woodland plant, this ivy can be used either as groundcover or as a climber. This fully hardy plant prefers well-drained to moist soil and partial sun to complete shade. H: 5 feet; S: 5 feet

White Nancy is Elegant Groundcover DK - Simple Steps to Success: Lawns and Groundcover © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

White Nancy (Lamium maculatum)

Mat-forming, herbaceous deadnettle can be invasive, so check it regularly, and keep it away from neighboring smaller plants. It produces pure white flowers, and its semi-evergreen leaves are silver with green margins. This fully hardy plant prefers moist soil and partial sun to complete shade. H: 8 inches; S: 3 feet

Aurea as Groundcover DK - Simple Steps to Success: Lawns and Groundcover © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Aurea (Luzula sylvatica)

This rampant groundcover plant is native to shady woodlands and invaluable for steep banks where mowing would be impossible. It is a tough, evergreen, tufted perennial with insignificant, pale white flowers and clumps of bright golden foliage. This fully hardy plant prefers moist soil and partial sun. H: 24 inches; S: 18 inches

Heavenly Bamboo DK - Simple Steps to Success: Lawns and Groundcover © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Heavenly Bamboo (Nandina domestica)

An attractive evergreen or semi-evergreen shrub, heavenly bamboo has red foliage when young, which matures to green, turning red again in the fall. In warm areas small white flowers are borne in midsummer, followed by red berries. This fully hardy plant prefers moist soil and partial sun. H: 6 feet; S: 5 feet

Japanese Spurge DK - Simple Steps to Success: Lawns and Groundcover © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Japanese Spurge (Pachysandra terminalis)

This bushy, spreading, evergreen foliage plant is ideal for a woodland garden or shady shrub border. It has oval, dark green leaves that appear in whorls at the end of its stems. The white flowers are borne in small spikes in the early summer. This fully hardy plant prefers moist soil and partial sun to complete shade. H: 8 inches; S: 9 feet

Blue Ensign Popular Groundcover for Dry Shade

Blue Ensin (Pulmonaria)

With their unusual speckled foliage, Pulmonaria are popular groundcover plants for underplanting shrub borders and planting in light woodlands; 'Blue Ensign' is distinctive because its gray-green foliage is not speckled. It has bright blue flowers. This fully hardy plant prefers well-drained to moist soil and partial sun to complete shade. H: 12 inches; S: 12 inches

Glossy Sweet Box Flowers DK - Simple Steps to Success: Lawns and Groundcover © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Sweet Box (Sarcococca ruscifolia)

Known as sweet box, this slow-growing, evergreen shrub has foliage reminiscent of the box plant (Buxus). It is a suckering plant and is a useful groundcover plant when established. It produces small, white, powerfully fragrant flowers in winter. This fully hardy plant prefers well-drained to moist soil and partial sun to complete shade. H: 4 inches; S: 3 feet

Honorable Goldsmith Comfrey DK - Simple Steps to Success: Lawns and Groundcover © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Comfrey (Symphytum \"Goldsmith\")

Comfrey is a robust plant with coarse, dark green leaves that are edged and splashed with gold and cream. The tubular flowers are pale blue and appear in early summer. The leaves can be chopped up and added to water to create a liquid feed. This fully hardy plant prefers moist soil and partial sun. H: 24 inches; S: 24 inches

Foam Flower Ground Cover DK - Simple Steps to Success: Lawns and Groundcover © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Foam Flower (Tiarella wherryi)

A popular woodland plant, the foam flower has attractive three-lobed, purple-tinged foliage and spikes of small whitish-pink flowers in spring and early summer. It prefers humus-rich soil and is ideal for planting under taller shrubs or shady borders. This fully hardy plant prefers well-drained to moist soil and partial sun to complete shade. H: 20 inches; S: 20 inches

Purple-Flowering Vinca Minor DK - Simple Steps to Success: Lawns and Groundcover © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Periwinkle (Vinca minor)

Considered by some to be a weed due to its spreading nature, periwinkle has dark green foliage and attractive dark violet flowers throughout the summer. It is a useful plant for steep banks or bare ground under trees and an excellent weed suppressant. This fully hardy plant prefers well-drained to moist soil and partial sun to complete shade. H: 20 inches; S: 6 feet

Waldsteinia Ground Cover Blooms DK - Simple Steps to Success: Lawns and Groundcover © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Waldsteinia (Waldsteinia ternata)

This creeping evergreen plant forms a thick, dense carpet, ideal for suppressing weeds. It has serrated, lobed foliage similar to that of strawberries and in late spring and early summer produces pretty, single, bright yellow flowers. This fully hardy plant prefers well-drained to moist soil and partial sun to complete shade. H: 4 inches; S: 24 inches

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