Groundcovers for Shady spots

Plants that creep across the ground or cascade down slopes or over walls can be grown to fill bare patches in the garden, reduce weeds and create a harmonious garden. They are also ideal in a large pot as part of a pot design underneath verandahs and pargolas. Some groundcover plants hug the ground and can be used as an alternative to lawns such native violet or baby’s tears (Soleirolia soleirolii), while others may grow up to 20-30cm or more high such as prostrate camellias including Camellia sasanqua ‘Marge Miller’, and mondo grass.

Other great options for groundcovers in shady locations include lamium, brunnera, mint, bugle (Ajuga repens), Trachelospermum ‘Tricolor’ (which has attractive pink and cream variegated leaves), pachysandra (Pachysandra terminalis) and epimediums. Some groundcover plants suited to shade can become weedy. Avoid planting ivy or periwinkle, both of which can become invasive.

Garden centres offer a huge range of plants to grow as groundcovers. When making your choice, look at the spread of each plant and its growing needs (for example shade, watering) to select the best option. If you are unsure of a plant for a particular location, ask the horticulture staff for advice, as they have a wealth of knowledge on plants that will suit your location.

For groundcover plants for sun see ‘Groundcovers for Sunny spots’.

Growing conditions

Aspect Some plants will need complete shade whereas others will grow in part shade with filtered sun. Check the plant’s information tag to plant it in its ideal location.

Soil Groundcover plants do best in good soil but many are tolerant of a range of soils and some can even survive in difficult conditions including moist, shaded positions. Dig in well-rotted compost or manure and/or Seasol Super Compost as part of the soil preparation. Also add in Seasol Plant + Soil Booster when planting to aid plant establishment. If growing in pots use a premium potting mix such as Seasol Advanced Potting Mix.

Climate There are plant choices for all climates, check the plant’s information tag for ideal conditions.

How to grow and look after ground covers for a shady position for a specular garden display display
How to grow and look after ground covers for a shady position for a specular garden display display

General care

Watering Water after planting and as plants begin to grow and establish a strong root system. Once well-established most groundcover plants are drought tolerant. Extra water may be needed if plants are in hot, dry or exposed conditions.

Feeding and mulching Groundcovers can can be fed via your preferred method, either liquid or granular food or a combination of both, depending on your groundcover variety. Keep plants growing well with a granular fertiliser such as Seasol plus Nutrients All Purpose including Natives every 6 to 8 weeks during the growing season. Spread around and through the plants and remember to water it in thoroughly after application. If you prefer liquid feeding, apply PowerFeed All Purpose including Natives every 2 to 4 weeks during the growing season as new growth appears.

Use mulch around new plantings to deter weed growth before the groundcover plant can spread and act as a living mulch.

Pruning Prune to control growth as needed and to deadhead spelt flowers.

Watch out Groundcover plants are generally tough and are rarely troubled by pests or diseases once established.