There are times when any gardener needs a quick growing groundcover for fast covering of bare soil. Perhaps you have just started a new perennial bed, and need a way to fill in the bare spots until the perennials have reached their mature growth. Or you have planted trees and need a ground cover that can tolerate the shade below its branches.
Areas of bare ground can be transformed quite quickly with a carpet of low growing plants. Bare soil is a magnet for weeds, which if allowed, can become established and set seed very quickly. On banks and slopes, erosion is a more serious problem from both wind and rain. By planting these spots with fast growing cover plants you not only solve these two potential problems, but your landscape is more attractive.
8 Fast Growing Groundcovers
Variegated periwinkle (Vinca major) is one of the best choices for a large area that needs a vigorous and quick spreading groundcover. Its white and green perennial leaves and its pretty blue-violet flowers add a beautiful carpet of green and blue. It does need to be sited with care since it will spread very quickly.
Long shoots grow almost overnight and will re-root where they touch the soil. These hardy plants flower best with some sun, but will also grow well in the shade where the variegated foliage adds a light touch. One warning – this can become invasive quickly if not controlled.
Serbian bellflower (Campanula poscharskyana) is another good choice for a semi-shady spot where a fast-growing ground cover is required. With clusters of lavender-blue star-shaped flowers, it shows well. This plant spreads by underground runners, so should not be placed where it can overwhelm other less vigorous growing plants. You can easily chop off the outer sections of the clump with a spade if it becomes too invasive. Clip it back to a two-inch mat once the plant has finished blooming.
Blue catmint (Nepeta faassenii) is our third choice for a fast-growing easy-cover plant. It has aromatic foliage of small silvery gray leaves and spikes of pale lavender-blue flowers. It does prefer a sunny spot, but will tolerate some shade and once established is fairly drought-tolerant. Locat catnip where it can sprawl over the edges of a raised bed or along the edge of a path where its scent can be released as it is brushed against.
Prostrate junipers such as Blue Carpet (Juniperus squamata) are another good choice for ground covers. With spreading ground-hugging branches covered with silvery-blue needle-like leaves, this one looks good all year. It will grow in almost any conditions and is particularly suitable for planting on banks and slopes.
St. John’s Wort (Hypericum Hidcote) is another great cover plant for slopes and difficult spots. It is easily grown in average well-drained soil, thriving in conditions of full sun to part shade. It tolerates dry rocky or sandy soils. Its pretty rose-like, 5-petaled, waxy, golden yellow flowers with prominent, dark yellow center stamens add bright lights to a shaded bank. The flowers of this popular hybrid are unusually large, slightly fragrant and bloom throughout the summer.
Bugleweed (Ajuga) is much more than a bland green mat. The foliage comes in a variety of colors from blue-green to purples and burgundy. And as spring evolves into summer, spikes of blue, purple, white or pink flowers cover the plants. This tough low maintenance plant is deer-resistant, drought-tolerant and can be an effective control to erosion on slopes. It spreads by runners which root and form a weed-controlling mat. It’s easily propagated by clipping and rooting the runners.
Angelina stonecrop (Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina.’) is a fast-growing, fast-spreading plant that grows about 6 inches tall. It’s an easy-to-grow groundcover, with needle-like light green foliage, becoming more golden in full sun. It can be grown in zones 6 and above, and the plants keep their succulent leaves all winter.
This plant is super-easy to propagate. Stems that break off will often root themselves, so because they spread, often need pruning. The flowers appear on tall spikes and form yellow clusters that butterflies love. You’ll want to remove the flower stems once the blossoms have faded, as they become rather ugly. This drought-tolerant plant loves full sun and makes a great rock garden plant as well as a ground cover.
Woolly Thyme (Thymus pseudolanuginosus) and other spreading thymes are favorites of mine. They drape easily over walls, spread to cover areas of bare soil and form a tight mat of green that is often accented with small pink, purple or white flowers. They can be walked upon, so make great fillers between pavers.
Thymes are easy to grow, demanding little except sun and well-drained soil. Trim the edges of the mats to encourage thicker growth. As an added bonus, the trimmings can be used in cooking or added to a bath for a refreshing scent.
What’s your choice?
We have introduced eight fast-growing groundcovers for soil stabilization, weed control. or aesthetic appeal. Assess the site you have, and decide which one can fill your needs for a ground cover that will add beauty to your landscape.