Midwest Gardening forum→Indianapolis: native ground cover and perennial recommendations

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olsonfamily
May 2, 2020 9:13 AM CST
Hello!

We have a front landscape area we're trying to figure out what to do with.

There's two main parts:

1) the more shaded side part (North side of house, between ours and neighbors) that has some hostas growing already.
Thumb of 2020-05-02/olsonfamily/d0059b
2) The front beds (east facing) have some lillys, a short rosebush, and some other bush in the corner.
Thumb of 2020-05-02/olsonfamily/5463cb

Both areas get direct sunlight in the AM and then shade in the PM.

We'd like to create a garden area that doesn't need to be mulched each year (the previous method that was used for this area >4 years ago). So questions are:

1. Recommendations for ground cover that would work in the more shaded side part and complement the hostas? Anything we should do to the dirt (very old mulch) that is there to prepare it for that ground cover?

2. Recommendations for perennials and ground cover that would work in the direct sun front beds?

3. Recommendations for tall grasses to grow behind things in the front bed (tolerant of direct sun for 3-5 hours a day)?







central ohio (Zone 5b)
PlantingOaks
May 21, 2020 10:10 AM CST
I'm a little unclear if you are looking for true natives (hostas aren't native for instance...) or just plants that will do well in your area.

Despite the name, natives can actually be quite finicky, as they tend to be native to woodlands instead of suburbs. The more sturdy ones are often more weedy looking than people are comfortable with. If you just want a low maintenance, traditionally nice looking garden, they may not be the best choice.

For the shady area, I might suggest Aquilegia, or some sort of fern. Neither of these is really a 'ground cover' in the sense of a short, quick-spreading, semi-stepable plant. Aquilegia will self seed, and ostrich fern spreads by stolons. Ostrich fern is also very tall, and considered by some to be a weed. Lady ferns, Maidenhair ferns, christmas fern and cinnamon fern are also some of the most common garden ferns listed as native to Indiana.

(wild ginger is a good native groundcover, but looks rather similar to hosta. Trillium and Jack in the Pulpit are also common woodlanders, but die back in the summer and don't get dense. MANY native shade plants are spring ephemerals)

For the sun, the gold standards for easy native gardening are milkweeds, rudbeckia and echinacea. The Aquilegia will also do well in all but really harsh sun. As will a number of ferns.

Pictures!












wild indigo is also native, though I have only ever grown hybrids, and don't know how the straight species does.


I am sure there are people who can chime in with more suggestions as well. Let us know if this is in the right direction.

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