Plants that are native in a region naturally grow and adapt to the changes. As time passes, they also adjust to different sources that help them grow. These changes could be the amount of water they receive from rainfalls, direct sunlight they receive, the pH levels, and many more. This list of plants is designed to find the top 10 native ground covers for shade.
Choosing to plant native plants in your area is important as you will be sure that they will live until the last day of its average lifespan. They will not need very meticulous maintenance like exotic plants as everything the native plants need are abundant in the region.
Using native plants as ground covers for your lawn is always a good idea if you prefer a lawn decorated with flowers aside rather than just plain green grass. They can also be used for landscaping because of its aesthetic looks. Sometimes, green grass is just not enough or maybe there is a certain look you are trying to match your house with.
10 Native Ground Covers for Shade Areas
1. Genus Phlox
This plant is native to North America and works excellent as a native ground cover for shade. Not only does it produce thick mounds of leaves that could get as high as 4 to 6 inches, but they also produce beautiful flowers that vary in colors. They are grown well in cool, shady areas and require at least 6 hours of direct sunlight a day in order to receive enough nutrients. It is recommended that they are grown in areas where heavy winds seldom blow as this plant is not resilient to hard winds.
2. Allegheny Pachysandra (Pachysandra Procumbens)
If you have problems with your lawns having bald spots, this native plant is your solution. Sometimes, part of your lawn is left bare because it is under a shade. Allegheny Pachysandra is known to be an invasive plant and can cover spots that are bare due to the lack of sunlight. This plant is commonly found in the Eastern parts of the USA and is very distinguishable by its spiky leaves and could grow up to 8 to 12 inches. Despite its flowers not being as colorful and beautiful, it is popular with a lot of homeowners due to its fragrant flowers and high tolerance for drought.
3. Foam Flower (Tiarella Cordifolia)
Commonly found in North America and Asia, Tiarella is popular due to its aesthetic, frothy flowers. They could grow up to 12 inches and could live up to 2 years. They do not need fertilizer to grow spread quickly and bloom, and prefer moist soil. However, just like most native ground cover plants, they need protection from strong winds, especially during winter. In a span of 2 years, it blooms for a short time only but can rebloom within its lifespan.
4. Heuchera Americana (AlumRoot)
Alumroot is another one of the top pick native ground covers for shade, it’s a great choice for covering lawns in shaded areas. It is native to eastern and central parts of North America and will grow beautifully with composted soil. It mainly depends on watering rather than with sunlight as it has no bearing with its growth. They can grow up to 3 feet high including its erect stalks of flowers. They are also preferred by some because of their lifespan of 3 to 4 years. It also continuously grows year after year without the need to re to planting as the dead flowers bear seeds that attract birds and bees that contribute to their spread and pollination.
5. Wishbone Flower (Torenia Fournieri)
This flower is a great addition to your lawn as they can withstand both the cold and the heat. They are not as delicate as their flowers. Unlike any other native plants, they tolerate high winds. They could grow from 6 to 12 inches and will continuously bloom every month. Dead blossoms are needed to be plucked off to make room for more flowers. They can both be grown as indoor plants or ground covers.
6. Hosta (Hosta Sieboldana)
Hostas are different from other plants as they are very tolerant to extreme sun and also in shade. They also require acid soil, but will still live in neutral soil with a mix of compost. They bear flowers as well, but most homeowners prefer their lush leaves alone rather than the flowers. They can grow up to 8 feet thanks to its big leaves that look like lilies.
It gives you bright foliage if you give it more sun, but planting it in shaded areas will give it a greener and more tropical look. Its maturity can take 4 to 8 years and will cover more ground, but it will continuously spread throughout your lawn as it grows. It is important to keep the soil moist and drained all the time to keep them healthy and to avoid rot.
7. Sweet Woodruff (Galium Odoratum)
Sweet woodruff is another perennial plant that is perfect as a ground cover in shaded areas. Frequent watering is needed especially during summer, but all other seasons, it requires little to no maintenance. This plant can spread easily and is a perfect ground cover as with the help of runners, they spread quickly.
They are also known to be invasive but can be easily tamed when weeded out and cut in certain areas. It can also grow 6 to 12 inches and its flowers are star-shaped in the shade of white. While they are a pretty addition to your lawn, the scent is also what makes this plant favorable to most homeowners. When they are crushed or wilted, they bear a sweet scent that can be harvested and turned into aromatic oils.
8. Deadnettle (Lamium Maculatum)
Spotted deadnettle grows best under the shade, but can tolerate sunlight. They make a good addition if you have trees or other plants in your garden or lawn due to their brightly colored flowers that have a very long bloom period. Mixing them with hostas will give your lawn a very aesthetic look because of their small leaves and purple flowers. They will continue to bloom within its lifespan of up to 6 years with proper maintenance and care.
9. Canada Anemone
This plant can grow from 1 to 3 feet with its upright stem with a white 5-petal flower in the middle. Though they are not as high and blossomy as other native plants, they are known for being aggressively invasive and requires a lot of weeding in unwanted areas. They thrive best in the shade or partly shaded areas and in moist soil. Though they bear simple, yet beautiful flowers, they are also known to be poisonous (when ingested in huge amounts) to both humans and animals. Because of their short, yet sturdy stems, they can withstand high winds and winters. They continue to bloom yearly throughout their entire lifespan. Though they can withstand extreme colds, they will still need to be cut back when they start to rot.
10. Bunchberry Cornus Canadensis
Also known as Creeping Dogwood, they are very invasive and will continue to spread until weeded out. They thrive in shade and requires moist soil. This plant could grow from 4 up to 9 inches tall and are perfect for landscaping as well. It bears flowers varying in colors and has seeds that are easily pollinated by birds, butterflies, or bees. They also bear berries that are edible but said to be flavorless. These are intolerant to foot traffic and extreme winds.
Other ways to cover-up your yard?
Sometimes having a full yard of grass is expensive and very time-consuming. There are hours of seeding, dethatching, aeration stages, fertilizing, mowing, and the list goes on. Sometimes you need inexpensive and no maintenance lawn options. Of course, ground covers are a great idea, but there are other ways to cover your yard!
If you are looking to save a few dollars, check out our article called “9 Cheap Ways to Cover Dirt In Backyard“. This list includes some amazing ways to cover your yard at a discount price!
Ground covers are perfect for aesthetic reasons and for also preventing drought, flooding, and erosion. They could also be great alternatives to grass if you prefer flowering plants displayed in your lawn. While these native plants are grown on your lawn to cover the ground, they are also beneficial to the plants that you will later grow. This is because the water and nutrients are absorbed in the ground from the roots, which can be better stored rather than just keeping the soil moist.
I hope you found the native ground cover for shade that is perfect for your location. Thanks for reading in on the backyard pros!
Jamie is the founder of The Backyard Pros. When he was 15 years old he started working at a garden centre helping people buy plants, gardening products, and lawn care products. He has real estate experience and he is a home owner. Jamie loves backyard projects, refinishing furniture, and enjoys sharing his knowledge online.