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Recommended Groundcovers

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Recommended Groundcovers

Common Name
Botanical Name


DescriptionHeightLightGrowing Conditions

(Pachysandra species)



Dense evergreen that spreads by underground runners. Effectively crowds out many weeds. The native P. procumbens has marbled leaves and fragrant flowers.


6 to 9 inches




Part to full shade



Prefers moist, fertile, slightly acid, organic soil. Competes well with tree roots. Best in the Midlands and Upstate.



Beach Wormwood
(Artemisia stellerana)



Dense, spreading semi- evergreen with soft silver gray leaves.



1 to 2 feet




Full sun




Drought-tolerant. Needs well-drained soil and good air circulation. Will not tolerate excessive moisture.



Confederate Jasmine
(Trachelospermum jasminoides)


Dark, evergreen leaves. Fragrant white flowers in late spring. ‘Madison’ is a hardy cultivar. T. asiaticum has yellow flowers and is also hardier.


1½ to 2 feet



Part shade



Moist, well-drained soil. Fast growing. When grown for groundcover, clip or mow yearly to keep dense and low.



Willowleaf Cotoneaster
(Cotoneaster salicifolia)


Lustrous, wide-spreading, evergreen with white flowers and small red fruit. Groundcover varieties include 'Repens' and 'Emerald Carpet'.


12 inches



Full sun



Tolerates poor soil and drought. Plant where it will have plenty of room to spread since pruning gives an awkward look.


Carolina Jessamine
(Gelsemium sempervirens)


Evergreen, may turn bronze in winter in colder areas. Golden yellow flowers in spring.


Up to 3 feet


Full sun or part shade


Can be used on steep banks to help control erosion. Maintain with a yearly cutting in late spring after flowering.


Carpet Bugle, Ajuga
(Ajuga reptans)



Green, purple or variegated evergreen leaves. Blue flowers on spikes in spring. Spreads quickly.


6 inches


Full sun to part shade


Mow after flowering to remove stems and tidy up appearance. May become invasive in turf.


Cast Iron Plant
(Aspidistra eliator)


Long, tall, dark evergreen leathery leaves. There is a white-edged variety.


1 to 2½ feet


Part to very deep shade


Will live in difficult situations, in almost any soil. Does best in mid-state and coastal areas.


(Ceratostigma plumbaginoides)


Deep blue flowers in late summer. Foliage turns reddish in fall and winter. Spreads underground.


6 to 12 inches


Sun or light shade


Prefers moderately fertile, well-drained soil. Good bulb cover. Mow to ground in late winter.


Cheddar Pink
(Dianthus gratianopolitanus)


Blue green to gray green needlelike evergreen foliage covered by very fragrant white or pink flowers in spring.


9 to 12 inches in bloom.


Full sun


Well-drained soil. Do not overwater. Trim after flowering. This species is the most tolerant of heat and humidity.


(Juniperus species)


Needled evergreens with many cultivars and species of varying foliage color, texture, height and form.


Height varies by cultivar


Full sun


Well-drained, moderately dry soil. Shore juniper tolerates seashore conditions.


Creeping Phlox
(Phlox subulata)


Tiny needle like, evergreen foliage is covered by pink, rose, lavender or white flowers in early spring.


6 inches


Full sun


Well-drained soil that is not overly rich. Shear lightly after flowering is finished


(Epimedium species)


Clumps of evergreen or semi-evergreen heart- shaped leaves with dainty crimson, yellow or white flowers in early spring.


6 to 18 inches


Shade or part shade


Prefers moist, well-drained soil, but will tolerate growing in amongst tree roots. Cut back in late winter.


Green and Gold
(Chrysogonum virginianum)


Starry, yellow flowers in spring.


4 to 12 inches


Part shade


Prefers average soils, adequate moisture.


Holly Fern

(Cyrtomium falcatum)


Evergreen, leathery and glossy dark-green leaves. Spreads moderately.


1½ to 2 feet




Well-drained, slightly acidic, moderately moist soil with high organic matter.


Lamb’s Ears
(Stachys byzantina)


Large, soft furry gray leaves are topped with spikes of purple flowers in late spring.


6 to 8 inches in leaf, 18 inches in flower


Full sun to high open shade


Well-drained soil. ‘Silver Carpet’ does not flower. ‘Big Ears’ is most tolerant of humidity.


(Lantana species)


Rapid-growing with a long bloom season. Flowers are often multi-colored, yellow, red and orange. Pink, lavender and white are also available. All attract butterflies.


Shrub lantanas to 3 feet; creeping lantana to 12 to 18 inches


Full sun


Well-drained soil, drought-tolerant when mature. Will grow well near the beach. Do not overfertilize. Prune back hard in spring to remove dead wood. Best in mid-state and coast. ‘Miss Huff’ is hardy in Upstate.




Dark green leaves turn yellow in fall. Fragrant, white, bell-shaped flowers.


8 inches




Prefers moist, fertile, organic soil. Spreads vigorously by underground rhizomes.


Mondo Grass
(Ophipogon japonicus)


Evergreen, grass-like leaves similar to liriope, but more slender.


4 to 12 inches


Sun or shade


Prefers moderately moist soil, Low maintenance once established. Trim or mow in early spring.


Creeping Rosemary
(Rosmarinus officinalis 'Prostratus')


Evergreen, with aromatic, needlelike foliage. Pale blue flowers in spring.


12 to 36 inches


Full sun


Requires very good drainage. On heavy, clay soil, it is more susceptible to winter damage.


Lavender Cotton
(Santolina chamaecyparissus)


Low mounded evergreen shrub, with fine-textured gray-green foliage. Tiny yellow flowers in June.


1 to 2 feet




Well-drained soil. Avoid frequent watering. Can be sheared.


Sweet Box
(Sarcococca hookeriana humilis)


Low, creeping evergreen. Tiny, sweetly scented flowers in winter.


12 to 15 inches


Light to heavy shade


Moist soil amended with plenty of organic matter.


Purple Heart
(Setcreasea purpurea)


Trailing, fleshy deep purple stems and leaves with lavender to purple flowers.


1 to 1½ feet


Shade or sun


Purple heart thrives in heat and drought conditions. In colder parts of the state, the top freezes in winter but it resprouts from the roots.


St. John’s-Wort
(Hypericum species)


Spreading shrubby evergreen or semi-evergreen with bright yellow flowers in mid-summer.


1 to 3 feet


Full sun or part shade.


Well-drained soil. Excellent for covering slopes. Cut to ground level in spring to rejuvenate.


Upland River Oats
(Chasmanthium latifolium)


Upright, native perennial grass with attractive seed heads and yellow fall color. Seeds provide winter interest.


2 to 4 feet


Full sun to part shade


Prefers loamy, well-drained soil but adapts to even poorly drained soils. Great for stabilizing soils on banks. Very low maintenance, simply cut back in late winter as new growth emerges from base. Will reseed.


(Muhlenbergia filipes)


Native perennial grass with attractive pink flowers in mid to late summer. Offers great winter interest.


1-3 feet


Full sun


Well-drained soils. Cut back in late winter to early spring when new growth emerges from base.


Autumn fern (Dryopteris erythrosora


Evergreen fern with interesting copper-bronze color appearing on new foliage.


1-3 feet


Part sun to full shade


Low maintenance, low moisture requirements.


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