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Colorful ground cover plants for the low maintenance garden

 Colorful ground cover plants 

Low-maintenance groundcover plants offer a simple solution for filling in bare spots under large trees, on sunny slopes and other challenging areas. In addition to adding welcome color, these plants act as living mulch, protecting the soil from erosion and drought. The following perennial groundcovers work well in a variety of situations without requiring much care.

1. Armeria

A beautiful plant not seen enough in gardens, Armeria (Armeria maritima) offers low, grassy leaves and clusters of pink or white flowers in late spring and early summer. Look for 'Rubrifolia', which offers burgundy-tinged foliage for added interest.

2. Baron Strawberry

Native to eastern North America, barren strawberries (Waldsteinia fragariotis) have dense, spreading strawberry-like foliage. In spring, they produce small yellow flowers, followed by inedible fruits.

3. Basket of gold

Basket-gold (Aurinia saxatilis) likes to grow between paving stones, on the sides of gravel paths, in rocky outcrops, and between stacked stones of a retaining wall. This prolific bloomer is covered in large flowers that attract butterflies and bees in April and May. After the plant blooms, the gray-green leaves form an attractive mat.

4. Bloody Cranesbill

Bloody cranesbill (Geranium sanguineum) gets its colorful name from the bright red color of its foliage in autumn. There are many blue and purple varieties that bloom in May and June, and then periodically throughout the growing season. This low-maintenance groundcover plant spreads slowly but will eventually form wide swaths if you let it.

5. Brass buttons

An evergreen landscape plant in warmer regions, Brass Buttons (Leptinella squalita) offers fern-like, finely textured foliage and button-shaped, yellow flowers. The 'Platt's Black' variety has very dark leaves that stand out against surrounding lighter plants or landscaping features such as boulders. Plus, it can tolerate a little foot traffic, so it's a good choice between stairwells as long as consistent humidity is achieved.

6. Bunchberry

A native landscape that does well in shade, punchberry (Cornus canadensis) has pretty little white flowers in spring and bright red fruit in fall. The leaves also produce festive shades of bronze-purple in autumn.

7. Christmas Fern

Producing lush foliage, evergreen Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides) is planted near water gardens or ponds. These attractive ferns are welcome additions to woodland or cottage gardens and pair well with other shade-loving perennials. The rhizome fern spreads up to 2 feet wide.

8. Creeping Phlox

A slow-growing, spreading perennial, creeping phlox (Phlox subulata) produces dense mats of narrow green leaves. Covered in pink, white, purple, red and bicolor flowers, this easy-care groundcover makes an eye-catching display in spring. Perfect for the edges of sidewalks and walkways, creeping flax won't become a rowdy neighbor to tulips, daffodils and other spring bulbs.

9. Crested iris

Sometimes called the woodland iris, the crested iris (Iris cristata) is native to eastern North America and can be found in a variety of shapes and sizes in blue and white. Once established, they make carefree, cheerful ground covers for a shady woodland garden.

10. Dianthus

Dianthus, also known as pinks, belong to the carnation family, and the flowers have a sweet clove-like aroma. Plants that grow in low, dense mats that spread slowly are very drought tolerant after they are established. There are many beautiful varieties to choose from, and some are less popular than others. A popular selection is 'Firewitch', which has bright pink flowers and is 8 inches tall.

11. Epimedium

Dry shade can be a tricky landscaping problem. Fortunately, Epimedium (Epimedium grandiflorum) thrives in these conditions. There are many great varieties, but some of the prettiest include 'Pear's Purple', 'Sulphurium' and 'Lilachee'.

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