Are you looking for a way to beautify your lawn, borders, pathways, or even your rock garden? Ground covers can be an excellent substitution for your shady garden. They are low-growing and can spread easily over a large area.

Something to note is that grass is also a type of ground cover but many people find that it is hard to maintain and grow. So, this is where these flowering low-maintenance ground cover plants come into play.

Finding the right perennial ground cover for a shaded area can be difficult since many plants require a good amount of light to thrive.

However, with the right selection of ground covers, you can create a vibrant landscape that is both low-maintenance and visually appealing.

Whether you’re looking for a ground cover that will add color and texture or one that will help control soil erosion, the list is endless. 

Ground cover plants can contribute positively to your landscape in many ways:

  • Prevent soil erosion by creating a protective layer over the ground, especially when planted on slopes.
  • Suppress weed growth hence reducing the constant need for herbicide.
  • Able to thrive in areas where other plants may be unsuccessful.
  • By keeping the soil cool hence reducing water loss.
  • Habitat for beneficial insects.
  • Provide color and contrast to your landscape.

In this article, we’ll explore some of the best low-maintenance ground covers for your shady gardens and provide tips on how to make the most of these versatile plants.

Perfect Locations For Ground Covers

It’s crucial to know where you’re planting your ground cover to make sure it will thrive.

Ground covers are best suited for areas where grass or other plants would struggle to grow. In addition, they are also very well suited for:

  • Slopes: Ground cover plants are perfect for controlling soil erosion on slopes, as the roots of these plants can bind the soil together and create a protective layer over the ground.
  • Walkways & Paths: Ground covers are an excellent choice for walkways and paths, as their low-growing habit means they won’t interfere with foot traffic or obstruct views.
  • Borders & Edging: Ground covers can also be used to add color and texture to borders and edging around gardens or beds.
  • Shady areas like under trees and shrubs.
  • Underplantings in beds and borders.
  • Very dry or wet locations.
  • Areas where mowing may be challenging. 

Choosing the right flowering ground cover for shade

You may ask questions like what are the best or fastest shade ground cover plants and the list goes on. 

But, since we are working with a shady garden we will need to choose ground-cover flowering plants that will work with that condition.

Then we’ll need to think about the colors, or texture you want in your landscape and the blooming season.

Also, keep in mind, the invasiveness of the plant alongside its maintenance level. If you decide to select an aggressive plant as a ground cover then you might want to plant them in areas where there are borders or pavements. 

In the end, the goal is to select a low-maintenance ground cover

Bed Preparation for Ground cover perennials:

Getting your garden bed ready for planting is the main ingredient for a successful ground cover. I know you might be excited or want to get this over with but this part cannot be rushed.

In short, you will need to remove every weed, debris, and rocks that will compete with your ground cover. You need a clean and healthy area to work with. You can choose to remove the weeds with your hands or use herbicide (chemical treatment). Then move on to working the soil with a garden fork, breaking up any clumps and removing any large rocks. And also don’t forget to add organic matter to your soil like compost, humus, and peat. 

Check out this post on the mistakes beginners make when setting up this raised garden bed for the first time.

After leveling the bed, it’s time to move on to the most exciting part! Planting your ground covers and spacing them accordingly.

 Finally, water the area thoroughly to keep the soil moist until the ground cover has established itself.

You can head over here to learn how to care for your ground cover.

9 Low Growing Ground Covers For Shade To Try


Botanical Name: Ajuga Reptans

Bugleweed, also known as ajuga, is a popular flowering perennial ground cover plant that is well suited for shady areas. With its attractive, glossy foliage and pretty blue, purple, or violent blooms, bugleweed adds a splash of color and texture to any garden.

This low-maintenance plant can be quite aggressive- filling large shady areas where lawns are difficult to grow.

Because of its spreading nature, avoid planting bugleweed near lawn areas. You can plant it around trees or shrubs and even on slopes.

Sun exposure: Sun to light Shade

Bloom: May-June

USDA Zones: 4-9

Rue Anemone

Botanical Name: Thalictrum thalictroides

Rue anemone is a lovely low-growing plant that makes a great ground cover for shady areas.

It produces pretty white or pink single flowers in the Spring along with its blue-greenish foliage. This delicate plant pairs beautifully with other late emerging woodlands ground cover plants for a year-round-season display.

One thing to note is that rue anemones will bloom in abundance in spring, but they tend to go dormant in midsummer heat.

This is a slow-growing plant so if you are looking for a fast-growing ground cover then rue anemone would not be ideal.

Sun Exposure: Full to part shade

Bloom: Spring

USDA Zones: 4-8

Lily of The Valley

Botanical Name: Convallaria majalis

If you’re looking for a fast-growing ground cover that thrives well in shady areas then this plant is for you. Lily of the Valley is an elegant plant with sweet-smelling white bell-shaped flowers. 

This plant can spread aggressively so that’s something to consider. In addition, this low-growing plant is drought tolerant. 

Lily of the valley can tolerate most soil types but grows best in a well-drained loamy soil.

Sun exposure: Full to partial shade

Bloom: Spring

Zones: 2-8

Sweet woodruff

Botanical Name: Galium Odoratum

Sweet woodruff is an attractive and low-growing perennial ground cover with delicate starlike fragrant flowers.

They do well in dry shade and also love to be watered. If it’s not watered during a hot time, it can die down. And you’ll need to water it, to resurrect it once again. 

On the other hand, withholding water from the plant can be a way of taming it since it spreads easily.

Sweet woodruff is very easy to grow but keeps in mind it can become invasive so plant it in an area where you can easily control it.

Sun exposure:  Full to Partial Shade

Bloom: Spring

USDA Zones: 4-8

Japanese Pachysandra

Japanese pachysandra flower – Latin name – Pachysandra terminalis

Japanese pachysandra is a popular choice for a flowering perennial ground cover in shady areas. Its glossy green foliage and small white blooms add a touch of beauty to any landscape.

This low-maintenance plant is an excellent option for areas that need erosion control, as it spreads quickly and forms a dense mat of foliage.

It does well in acidic, even-moisture soil with good drainage.  The versatility and ease of care make Japanese pachysandra a go-to choice for any shaded area needing ground cover.

Sun exposure: Full to partial shade

Bloom: Spring

USDA Zones: 5-8

Chinese Astilbe

Botanical Name: Astilbe Chinensis

Chinese astilbe is a stunning low-growing perennial that is often grown as a ground cover in shady areas. This flowering plant produces beautiful feathery plumes in shades of pink, red, purple, and white that rise above its fern-like foliage.

The plant blooms mid to late summer and attracts pollinators such as bees and butterflies. Chinese astilbe is also known to be resistant to deer and rabbits.

Additionally, it is easy to grow, and low maintenance, and the flowers can be used as floral cutting arrangements.

Sun exposure:  Full to partial shade

Bloom: Summer

USDA Zones: 4-9


Botanical Name: Epimedium

This is an all-around attractive flowering perennial ground cover from the flowers to the very leaves.  The plant features heart-shaped leaves that are often tinted in red or bronze.

While its delicate flowers bloom in shades of white, yellow, pink, or red. Barrenwort is a tough plant that requires little maintenance and is drought-tolerant.

Not only is this ground cover loves every kind of shade but is also pest and disease free. Growing barrenwort is easy and will be an excellent pick for your ground covers, rock garden, borders, and beds. 

Sun exposure: Full to Part Shade

Bloom: Spring

USDA Zones: 5-8

Vinca Minor

Vinca minor, also known as periwinkle, is a popular flowering ground cover that thrives in shady and partially shady areas.

Its glossy green leaves and delicate purple-blue flowers add a splash of color and brightness to any landscape.

This low-maintenance plant spreads quickly, covering the ground and choking out weeds. It is also easy to grow and maintain, making it an excellent choice for those looking for a fuss-free plant. 

Sun exposure: Full to Part Shade

Bloom: Spring, Summer

USDA Zones: 4-9


Botanical Name: Cornus Canadensis

Cornus canadensis, also known as Canadian bunchberry, is a slow-growing but hardy ground cover that thrives in shady areas. Its small white flowers bloom in the spring and give way to bright red berries in the summer, which last well into the fall.

If attracting birds and other wildlife to your area is a goal of yours then this low growing groundcover is perfect for you.

 Sun exposure: Part Shade

Bloom: Spring to Summer

USDA Zones: 2-7

Final Thoughts on Choosing The Right Flowering Perennial Ground Cover For Your Shaded Area

In conclusion, choosing the right flowering perennial ground cover for your shady garden doesn’t have to be a daunting task. By considering the amount of shade your garden receives, and the amount of space you have to work with, you can narrow down your options. And find the perfect ground cover for your yard!

Also, remember, ground covers not only add beauty but help preserve moisture and prevent erosion.

So, take your time and choose your ground covers wisely!

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