The Q&A Archives: shade loving ground covers

Question: I'm looking for ideas for ground covers that grow well in shade in zone 5 to 6, I'm right on the edge of both zones.
I'd like to plant from seed, as I'm looking to cover a large space, and would like to plant a variety rather than all one thing if possible. My soil is not too bad, a little clay, but I'll amend it with compost and peat moss.

Answer: The traditional evergreen groundcovers for shade, vinca minor, English ivy and pachysandra, are usually set out as small plants and allowed to fill in. Hosta (especially the spreading stoloniferous types), ajuga, liriope, iris cristata (crested iris) and some ferns can also be used successfully as ground cover, but again they are usually set out as divisions and encouraged to spread. Lily of the valley can be grown from pips planted in the fall or from divisions planted during the growing season. Some plants you might be able to grow from seed or at least be able to encourage to self sow, spread and fill in would be sweet woodruff, lamium, hellebore, perennial geraniums and pulmonaria. One last possibility would be to use a vine such as Virginia Creeper or sweet autumn clematis as a ground cover. These will self sow and will fill in quickly. Good luck with your project!

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