The Q&A Archives: Groundcovers for Heavy Shade

Question: I have an area of heavy shade. It drains very well and so the ground is generally dry and cool. There is also a large maple in the area. The area is fringed with ivy, but the ivy doesn't seem to be able to grow into the area. I'm looking for a groundcover that can tolerate these conditions, hopefully spreads quickly and if it can be started from seed would be perfect! Comfrey was suggested in an OrganicGardening issue but I can't seem to find the seeds which they said are available. George Munce Washington, IN

Answer: Kurt Bluemel, Inc. is a mail-order supplier of ornamental grasses and other perennials, and they offer a number of groundcovers that do well in deep shade. For a catalog, call 410-557-7229 (Maryland). In general, hostas and some species geraniums are happy in the conditions you describe, and the catalog includes offerings of these as well. I would warn you against planting comfrey, because it can be very invasive and difficult to keep in bounds. I usually recommend planting comfrey in containers,just to keep it under control.

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