Ground Cover Plants For Shade

Ground Cover plants for shade and part shade are a useful addition to any garden. Plants that grow well in shade often have to compete with the roots of trees and poor soil conditions as well as low light and often dry conditions. Requirements for ground cover plants for shaded areas will differ, if flowering plants are required, or if the area is wet and boggy.

Ground cover plants colonise areas in different ways, some are self seeding other will spread by sending out ungrounded runners or rhizomes. Low care or maintenance ground cover plants for shade are much sought after, we provide a list and photographs of some of the best plants that will be successful as ground covers in shaded areas.

Best Ground covers for shade

  • Epimedium. These are some of the best ground cover plants available for dry shade areas of the garden. Epimediums spread by underground rhizomes however they are slow to spread and are not regarded as invasive. Once a clump is established it can be dived every 3-4 years to help cover a large shaded area. Most species do not like wet conditions.
  • Hellebores, sometimes called Lenten Roses, these are another great plant for shaded areas. Again hellebores do well in dry conditions and in poor soil. Hellebores will self seed as well as spread by clumping. With many hybridised forms available flower colour varies from white through to deep purple with double flowers also available.
  • Geranium macrorrhizum. The big root geranium or big foot geranium. A clumping geranium with ‘big roots’. An evergreen geranium that spreads by large running rhizomes. The light green scented foliage and attractive pink flowers make this another great plant for a shaded area. Geranium macrorrhizum copes with damp areas.
  • Ajuga reptans (bugleweed) . Best in light or dappled shade, Ajuga is a low growing evergreen spreading ground cover that does well in lightly shaded areas. Attractive purple flowers in late spring to early summer
  • Mondo Grass (Ophiopogan japonicus). It’s not really a grass, however the strap leafed monad grass does will in light shade. Forming a dense mat it also makes a useful ground cover plant. Mondo grass comes in a range of colors from green through to black and also different cultivars will grow to different heights.
  • Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’ (Japanese Temple Grass). A clump forming grass that grow well in dappled shade. One of the most attractive ornamental grasses with golden green drooping foliage that looks soft. Slow to spread but worth the wait.

Other ground cover plants to consider for shaded areas

  • Sedum (some species)
  • Pulmonaria
  • Brunnera
  • Hostas
  • Pachysandra
  • Liriope
  • Tiarella
  • Ferns
  • Heucherella
  • Microbiota decussata
  • Sagina subulata
  • Houttuynia cordata
  • Mahonia repens (creeping mahonia)
  • Euonymus fortunei