Ground covers are a great addition to any landscape for a number of reasons:
- They help prevent the germination of weed seeds
- When established, they help stave off the invasion of perennial weeds
- They protect the soil from erosion and water loss – particularly beneficial on steep slopes
- They act as an insulating cover for the soil, keeping it cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter
- They perform as living mulch, helping to build up healthy humus levels in the soil
- They provide habitats and cover for beneficial insects and predators
- They’re beautiful
- They can provide us with food, medicines, etc.
And like any plant, finding the right one to suit a particular site is key to the plant’s success. We’re going to spotlight a few of our favorite groundcovers based on site conditions: Sunny/dry; shady/dry; shady/wet and – what we’ll start the series off with here – sunny/wet. Two plant options we think are worth consideration for such sites include campanula and vinca.
A sunny location is great for many groundcovers, but a sunny/wet location can pose a challenge sometimes, since the vast majority of plants benefit from good drainage to prevent root rot and good air circulation to discourage pests and diseases. The plants below can handle moist soils in sunny locations better than others, so consider adding them to your landscape if you have a sunny/wet location.
Campanula is a broad group of over 300 annual, biennial and perennial plants that span several sizes and colors. The primary characteristic is the upturned, open cup-shaped flowers in hues of pink and white but primarily lavender or light blue. The plants will spread over the seasons and the lower growing varieties make excellent ground covers. Most bellflowers begin blooming in July and keep on flowering until frost. Two varieties we like for ground covers include Dalmatian Bellflower (Campanula portenschlagiana) and Spotted Bellflower (Campanula punctata).
Dalmation Bellflower (Campanula portenschlagiana) – A gorgeous variety of bellflower for trailing over stone walls, filling spaces between stepping stones, and accenting rock gardens. Charming bell-shaped purple flowers nearly hide the mounds of green, tooth-edged foliage during the bloom period which lasts from spring to early summer and may bloom again in the fall. Dalmation is an herbaceous perennial that’s quick-spreading and reaches a height of about 8” tall.
Spotted Bellflower (Campanula punctata) “Cherry Bells” – Spotted bellflower has heart-shaped foliage on a creeping rhizome with tubular, bell-shaped creamy white to dusky pink flowers with red spots and grows to about a foot-tall. A favorite of bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, this variety spreads easily and makes an attractive cut flower as well.
Vinca minor, commonly know as vinca or periwinkle, is one of the most popular and widely used ground covers. It has trailing stems with smooth, evergreen leaves and takes root at the nodes as they spread along the ground, quickly forming an attractive ground cover. Tubular, lavender blue, flowers (up to 1 inch across) appear in the spring and continue to flower intermittently throughout summer into fall. The foliage will mound up to 6″ tall.
Vinca Minor “Bowles’” – Is a versatile, evergreen groundcover that can handle both full sun and full shade. In zones 4 through 9, “Bowles’” produces large bluish flowers with a pinwheel-shape that pop against its deep green, glossy leaves. The blooms are long-lasting, appearing in late spring and lasting through the summer. This deer-resistant perennial can tolerate overly wet areas and helps control soil erosion.
Main Image Photo Credit: Monrovia – Dalmation Bellflower