evergreen groundcover for shade

Evergreen groundcovers are well-suited to a range of soil conditions found in shade. There are two categories: those preferring average to dry soils, and those preferring average to moist soils. In whatever conditions, a newly planted plant should be provided with adequate water, moderate fertilization or amended soil until well established, especially if planted in autumn. Even low water use plants require watering until they become established (usually 2 years), and should be watered about once a month thereafter in our driest summers. In extreme conditions, for example in dry shade beneath fir trees, it is best to try a few plants first to see they perform before committing to the larger number.

Recommended spacing is approximately 18 inches apart for full coverage in 18 months.

For more specific details about any groundcover, please refer to individual cultivar signs or consult one of our Swanson’s professionals.

average to dry soil

CARPET BUGLE
Ajuga reptans & cultivars Flowers 8 inches high; Foliage 2 inches high

BELLFLOWER
Campanula portenschlagiana Flowers and foliage 4 inches high

COTONEASTER
Cotoneaster dammeri Foliage 4 inches high

SAND STRAWBERRY (WILD STRAWBERRY)
Fragaria chiloensis Foliage 2-3 inches high

BISHOP’S HAT
Epimedium spp. Flowers and foliage 12-15 inches high

IVY
Hedera spp. (small-leaved, non invasive cultivars) Foliage 8 inches high

MONDO GRASS
Ophiopogon japonicus Flowers and foliage 12 inches high

DWARF MONDO GRASS
Ophiopogon japonicus ‘Nana’ Flowers and foliage 2 inches high

BLACK MONDO GRASS
Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens' Flowers and foliage 5 inches high

JAPANESE SPURGE
Pachysandra terminalis Flowers and foliage 8 inches high

TAIWAN CREEPER
Rubus pentalobus Flowers and foliage 6 inches high

PERIWINKLE
Vinca minor Flowers and foliage 6 inches high

BIGROOT GERANIUM
Geranium macrorrhizum Cultivars Flowers 14 inches high; foliage 6-12 inches high

average to moist soils

EUROPEAN GINGER
Asarum europaeum Foliage 6-10 inches high

ALPINE WATER FERN
Blechnum penna-marina Foliage 4-5 inches high

SWEET WOODRUFF
Gallium odoratum (Asperula odoratum) Flowers and foliage 4 inches high

WINTERGREEN
Gaultheria procumbens Flowers and fruit 3 inches high

SALAL
Gaultheria shallon Foliage 12-48 inches high

LAMIUM
L. maculata Cultivars Flowers 8 inches high; foliage 6 inches high

LONDON PRIDE
Saxifraga x urbium Flowers 12 inches high; foliage 4 inches high
S. x urbium 'Primuloides'
S. x urbium 'Aureopunctata'

GROUNDCOVER SPACING

We recommend planting 4” pots 18” apart for full coverage in a season and a half.

How many plants do I NEED?

To determine the number of plants required for an area, refer to the formula below:

Multiply length x width of an area to get square footage.

Example: 10 ft. x 6 ft. = 60 sq. ft.

For curving or irregular areas, break up into smaller rectangles and right triangles (L x W x .5) to measure. For a curving border or strip, measure the length along the center line and multiply x its average width.

At 18” spacing, divide your total square footage by 2.25 (1 plant per 2.25 sq. ft.)

Example: 60 sq.ft. ÷ 2.25 = 26 plants or

Example: 100 sq.ft. ÷ 2.25 = 45 plants

At 12” spacing to fill in faster, then you would need 1 plant per square foot.

At 2 ft. spacing, divide your total square footage by 4 (100 sq.ft. ÷ 4 = 25 plants)

Plant in a diamond grid pattern at your desired spacing.


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