The Best 18 Ground Cover Plants for Shade (With Pictures)

In the shade, many varieties of ground cover plants thrive. Ground cover plants aid to provide verdure in places where other plants don’t thrive. Landscape plants that crawl, clump, or trail require minimal care and are ideal for landscaping. Ground cover plants that bloom in the spring, summer, or fall are also an option for extra color.

For any type of garden, there are a variety of ground cover plants. Ground cover flowers may transform walkways, enhance garden elements, or thrive in places with few rays of sunlight. Ground cover plants for shade are generally green all year and are hardy sorts of creeping or spreading plants.

To help control weeds, prevent erosion, or landscape areas of your garden where other plants don’t thrive, using plants that provide good ground cover in the shade is a good idea. Some of the greatest low-maintenance ground cover plants that thrive in the shade are discussed in this article. You’ll also discover the greatest blooming plants, as well as those that are drought tolerant and provide evergreen cover in shady spots.

Ground Cover Plants for Shade (With Pictures and Names) – Identification Guide

Spotted Dead Nettle

With various cultivars, deadnettle is a flowering ground cover for shade. The Lamium maculatum cultivar is the plant shown in the picture. Low-growing ground cover plant Spotted Dead Nettle (Lamium maculatum) thrives in the shade and is a flowering type. Because of its flowers and spreading growth habit, Spotted Dead Nettle is an excellent ground cover plant.

Several cultivars of Spotted Dead Nettle exist, including those with variegated leaves and blossoms of various hues. Pink, purple, or white helmet-shaped blooms are produced by this shade-loving plant. Dark green, silver, purple, or gold-colored leaves are found in different cultivars of this plant. Mound soil with little light is ideal for seedlinging Ground Cover Spotted Dead Nettle. This fast-growing evergreen herbaceous perennial plant may grow to a height of 8″ to 31″ (20–80 cm).

In the spring, most Deadnettle cultivars resume growth after surviving a light frost. USDA hardiness zones 3-10 are home to Spotted Dead Nettle. The invasive nature of this kind of plant makes it difficult to control, despite its usefulness as a ground cover.


Hostas are herbaceous perennial ground cover plants with stunning flowers that bloom in the shade. Ground cover Hosta plants grow equally well in the shade as they do in the sun, and there are several different types. The large waxy leaves of this perennial leafy plant provide excellent ground cover. Some cultivars feature green-white variegated leaves, while others feature light-colored green leaves.

Hostas’ fragrant flowers are one of their most remarkable characteristics. The little blossoms emerge from the top of the plant, on upright stems that stretch upwards. The Hosta plantaginea, which produces highly scented white blooms, is the most fragrant variety of Hosta. Most scentless white flower types include lavender and violet. Hostas grow to be about 2 feet (0.6 meters) tall in the shade. The leaves might yellow during the winter and fall off. They will, however, reestablish themselves the following spring to function as ground cover until late fall.

Rhizomes produce hostas. The clumps grow together until they may be split into smaller plants. For hostas, the USDA recommends 3 to 8 hardiness zones.

Japanese Pachysandra

The Japanese pachysandra (Pachysandra terminalis) is a low-growing leafy evergreen plant that thrives in shady areas of your yard or under shrubs. Small flowers appear in the spring on this kind of shade-loving perennial ground cover plant. Crawling stems with light-green glossy leaves make up the Japanese pachysandra (also known as the carpet box plant). You may plant several of these plants in together to get the greatest ground cover.

After three years, the plant will grow to a height of 4″ to 24″ (10 – 60 cm). Japanese pachysandras have thick foliage that makes it an excellent creeping ground cover plant. Since it thrives on moist, well-drained soil, this is not a drought-resistant plant. Nonetheless, it’s a toughy blooming plant that thrives in the winter.

One method to get some ideas for where to put this ground cover variety is to place it on the north side of a structure. Although it thrives in the shade, the leaves of this kind of flowering ground cover plant may begin to yellow in full sun. This plant thrives in USDA hardiness zones 4-10.

Allegheny Pachysandra

Due to its low height and dense green foliage, Allegheny Pachysandra (Pachysandra procumbens) is a popular type of perennial ground cover plant for shade. When new leaves emerge in the spring, the ground cover plant thrives in full to partial shade.

The Allegheny Pachysandra can be evergreen or semi-evergreen (deciduous in colder climates) depending on the growing zone. It grows to about 12 inches (30 cm) tall. This cultivar is unusually drought tolerant when compared to other low-ground creeping plants. In most soils, this ground cover plant produces a thick, dense carpet of leaves.

Liriope (Lilyturf)

Liriope is a fast-growing perennial landscaping plant that thrives in the shade and is drought tolerant and hardy. Since its grass-like foliage grows in tufts, Liriope is also known as monkey grass or spider grass. This upright lavender-colored blooms, which resemble spikes, bloom throughout the summer and autumn. Both creeping and clumping types of this perennial landscaping plant are available. This permits you to employ this versatile plant for anything from ground cover to park maintenance. In the shade as well as in the sun, this spreading plant thrives.

The lilyturf plant is a excellent choice for evergreen ground cover since it grows quickly. It’s a drought-tolerant and easy-to-care-for plant that thrives in little upkeep. Liriope may grow up to 24 inches (60 cm) tall and stretch up to 9 inches (22 cm).

Prevent soil erosion on hills, utilize as a colorful edge border, or have foliage beneath trees or shrubs are some of the landscaping techniques to employ this plant for effective ground cover. Hardiness zones 5 to 10 are ideal for this mat-forming ground cover perennial. During the winter, the leaves might fade, but in the spring, they will return to life.

Sweet Woodruff

Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum) is a hardy white blooming perennial ground cover that grows in the shade. This perennial grows well in shady places where other plants don’t thrive, which is one of the reasons it’s such a excellent ground cover plant. Sweet woodruff can grow up to 20 inches (50 cm) long and grows along the ground. Sweet-scented little white blooms that give your garden a fragrant aroma are also produced by Woodruffs.

This spreading ground vegetation isn’t drought tolerant, so you should keep that in mind. In the summer, you’ll need to water it well if you place it to cover ground in shady areas. The good all-year-round cover is one of the reasons why many gardeners choose this low-maintenance landscaping option. USDA hardiness zones 4 through 8 are ideal for this kind of spreading plant.


Mazus is a genus of low-growing spreading plants that provide excellent ground cover in parts of your garden that don’t receive much sunlight. The cultivar Mazus reptans (creeping mazus) has creeping and rooting stems and is fast growing. Because of its tiny light-purple flowers, this creeping plant gives lovely blooming ground cover.

When you place this low-ground plant in portions of your garden that are partly shady, it thrives. It can endure some sun but needs protection throughout the day. To protect soil from erosion and produce thick ground foliage, this plant is an fantastic landscape option.

Mazus surculosus, Mazus pumilio, and Mazus pumilus are other Mazus cultivars that provide good ground coverage. These tough plants may spread up to 12 inches (30 cm) and quickly convert any garden into a sea of blooming leaves. USDA Hardiness Zones 5-8 are home to Mazus cultivars.

Bishop’s Weed

Bishop’s Weed (Aegopodium podagraria) is a perennial ground cover plant that thrives in shady regions of your garden. It is a quick-growing ground cover plant. Because of its fast-growing characteristics, Bishop’s Weed can cover a wide area of land quickly. In shady woods or on partly-shaded slopes, this perennial plant is frequently seen.

The broad leaves provide excellent ground cover, growing to a height of around 40″ (100 cm). Clusters of little white blooms adorn the ends of long stems, and they bloom throughout the season. Variegated Bishop’s weed is a good choice if you want to spice up your shady areas of the garden. Green leaves with Creamy White Edges are characteristic of this kind of ground cover plant. In temperate areas, Bishop’s Weed thrives and can be found throughout Europe, North America, Australia, and New Zealand.

Creeping Buttercup

The Creeping Buttercup (Ranunculus repens) is a fast-growing flowering ground cover that blooms every spring in the shade and thrives in low maintenance. Its running stems root in the ground, and the yellow blooming ground cover plant spreads quickly. With broad leaves growing on the stems, the creeping ground cover reaches a height of 19 inches (50 cm). Low growing types of Creeping Buttercup create a soft green carpet over the ground, which is why they’re called creeping buttercup.

When planted beneath trees, shrubs, or in other shady areas, the bright yellow blossoms with an inch in diameter (2.5 cm) offer a burst of color. Creeping buttercups have been declared pests in certain regions because of their invasive nature. One plant, for example, may expand up to 40 feet (12 meters) in a single year. Creeping Buttercups prefer damp soil and partial to full shade. USDA hardiness zones 4-9 are the optimum growing conditions for them.


In mild winter climates, Epimedium versicolor is a semi-evergreen perennial cultivar (evergreen in certain winters). Epimedium plants are also known as Bishop’s hat, horny goat weed, or barrenwort. Every autumn (deciduous Epimedium cultivars), some lose their leaves, while others remain evergreen.

In shady parts of your garden, Epimedium plants can provide gorgeous ground cover. In the fall, their leaves turn purple, scarlet, or crimson. They can be red, bronze, copper, and green. Little clusters of flowers in a range of colors may also be seen on Epimedium cultivars. In shaded regions, choose Epimedium species that are more hardy to obtain excellent ground cover.


Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis) is a slow-growing flowering perennial ground cover plant that thrives in shady conditions. The ground is covered with this slow-growing perennial creeping plant, which creates a thick mat. White small four-leaved blooms create a carpet-like effect in the late spring and early summer. Only 8 inches (20 cm) tall, this ground cover plant is a slow grower. This colorful herbaceous ground cover plant may be grown in USDA hardiness zones 2 through 6.

Vinca Minor (Periwinkle)

Vinca (Vinca minor) is a spreading evergreen ground cover plant that produces dense foliage and a few flowers in the spring. It’s an excellent choice for covering the ground. You can use it in hanging baskets or allow it to grow along the ground since this is a trailing variety of plant. Vinca (also known as trailing periwinkle) grows quickly to form a canopy over trees, covering forested regions, or developing in places that get little sunlight.

Vinca’s toughness is one of the reasons it has become such a popular ground cover. In drought situations, the plant thrives and blooms, but only when it gets sufficient water. To embellish or decorate a north-facing wall, use the trailing Vinca. Your garden or yard will be transformed by the cascading leaves soon.

Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense)

Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense) is a shade-loving perennial ground cover plant with big glossy green leaves that works well as a groundcover. Wild ginger can be either evergreen or semi-evergreen (deciduous in colder climates) and is a perennial plant. Wild Ginger’s kidney-shaped leaves are its most distinguishing feature. Unlike other types of shady ground covers, the spreading plant isn’t fast-growing and doesn’t have invasive properties.

Delicate blooms with a tan to purple hue and three petals may be seen in late spring. Where there is little sunlight or to shade shaded slopes, ground-hugging broad leaves grow to form lush bedding around trees. Wild ginger clumps grow to a height of 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) and spread one foot (30 cm).

Wild ginger is a low-maintenance evergreen ground cover, which makes it a great option for hardy plants. Because it includes hazardous chemicals, this ground cover plant should not be employed as a substitute for ginger.

Bloody Cranesbill

The Bloody Cranesbill (Geranium sanguineum) is a hardy Geranium family of herbaceous flowering perennial ground cover plant. This happy ground cover thrives on most types of soil, as well as partly shady areas and full sun, making it ideal for novices. Within two years, the Bloody Cranes-Bill will grow to heights of 8″ to 20″ (20 – 50 cm), at a medium pace.

The trailing sanguineum variety of geranium is a perennial, while other types are annuals. They blend in well with rock gardens and help to cover most kinds of soil. Clumpy plants may grow up to 8 inches (20 cm) long. Plant them about 11″ (30 cm) apart if you want to use these hardy plants as ground covers.

Mondo Grass

If you have portions of your garden that are in constant shadow, mondo grass is a perennial ground cover that thrives in partial shade or full sun. Unlike a lawn, these tiny evergreen plants require little upkeep and don’t need to be mowed often. Cutting Mondo grass back once a year is all you have to do to keep it from growing too long. Regular Mondo grass grows to be around 7″ to 15″ (20 cm) in height on average.

Another landscaping option is dwarf Mondo grass if you need ground coverage in places that don’t get much sunlight. This variety has a small spread and grows to only 4″ (10 cm) tall. You might also grow a black form of Mondo grass for an even more dramatic landscape concept. Yet, full sun rather than shade is the ideal environment for this grass-like ground cover.

Corsican Mint

Corsican mint (Mentha requienii) is a low-growing ground cover plant that spreads easily and forms a green mat-like covering in shady areas. This minty aromatic bedding plant not only provides excellent ground cover, but it also fills your garden. This low-growing variety, unlike other mint types, thrives in the shade.

During the warm summer months, you must take care of the Corsican mint properly. To keep the ground moist but not soggy, it needs watering. Drought is also a concern for this landscaping plant. The Corsican mint prefers a warmer environment than other green ground cover plants. In USDA hardiness zones 6 through 9, this ground cover thrives as a perennial.

When this mint plant blooms in the summer, you can expect the green covering to turn lilac. As an alternative to ordinary mint, you may also utilize your perennial mint plant in the kitchen. In colder climates, Corsican mint must be grown as an annual variety of plant. In warm climates, Corsican mint can become an invasive ground cover plant.


Stonecrop is a hardy perennial ground cover that thrives in arid areas. Stonecrop (Sedum acre) turns into a magnificent bright yellow flower ground cover plant when it blossoms. Stonecrop’s dense thick foliage provides good cover in shady areas throughout the year. In full sunlight, this spreading plant thrives.

Stonecrop has a short height of just 2 inches (5 centimeters) and a spreading habit, making it an attractive plant to cover ground. It also compliments other garden elements, as well as matching well in a rock garden. Towards the end of spring, yellow star-shaped blooms bloom on the bedding plant. Stonecrop will reach a height of 24 inches (60 cm) when fully grown. Stonecrop is also a flowering low-maintenance plant that is ideal for hillside design, which adds to its appeal.

Lily of the Valley

Variegated cultivar (middle) and berries (right) of Lily of the Valley leaves and flowers. This ground cover is poisonous to all areas. Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis) is a fast-spreading flowering perennial that thrives in the shade and spreads quickly. Although this aggressive plant prefers shady places and woodlands, many gardeners consider it invasive and refuse to place it in their yard. If you only have a small garden, however, this might not be the best type of ground-covering plant.

Lily of the Valley, on the other hand, might be a good flowering perennial for shade if you need a ground cover plant for a huge area. Large leaves up to 10 inches (25 cm) long may be seen on Lily of the Valley. In the spring, tiny white bell-like blooms with a strong fragrance appear. Before selecting this kind of plant for ground cover, consider the toxicity. The plant is poisonous and may induce gastrointestinal discomfort or skin irritations.

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