Posts Tagged ‘Blue Flowers’
A real dependable “tough it out” ground cover is Plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides). Yes it is a mouthful – but oh what an underutilized ground cover for sun to partly shaded areas (or those transitional areas) that is worth growing in your garden.
If you are looking for a moderate spreader that gives you light glossy foliage that looks nice and tidy throughout the growing season (and helps suppress the weeds) Plumbago is definitely a groundcover to consider looking charming beneath shrubs or as an edging plant.
I really like blue flowers which appear in mid summer just when you need a pop of color for the garden. You’ll get some nice fall color too when the foliage turns to a red coppery bronze color. Give it good drainage, and let it do its thing as it thrives on neglect.
Be patient in spring. Plumbago breaks dormancy later that most plants.
- Botanical: Ceratostigma plumbaginoides
- Common: Plumbago
- USDA – Zone 5-8
- Light: Full sun to part shade. Shade in hot afternoon.
- Size: 6-12 inches tall
- Spread: Moderate spread by rhizomes 1-2 feet wide
- Features: Tolerate clay, sand, drought, part shade, sun, deer,
- Uses: Undemanding groundcover
Need a fast spreading drought proof groundcover that will grow beneath trees?
Ajuga or Bugleweed is easy to grow and virtually maintenance free perennial groundcover for hard to grow places. I’m particularly fond of Chocolate Chip Ajuga (‘Valfredda’) where it can easily cover an 18” area in just one season. It is one of my favorite ground covers beneath trees where other groundcover struggle and it looks great year-round!
Ajuga is a deer proof evergreen groundcover with vibrant foliage and showy purple flowers in spring. Low growing mats are only 3” tall. Hardy to Zone 4-9, It thrives in both sun and shade.
Growing anything under trees can be difficult. First of all, trees create a “rain shadow” where it is always drier beneath a tree. Secondly, some trees such as maples, poplars and willow have heavy feeder roots that rest near the surface, making it virtually impossible to grow, let alone even dig a hole for planting.
Ajuga is ideal with its shallow roots that grow within just a few inches of the ground. It competes effectively between tree roots and drier conditions while spreading quickly by way of runners. Runners are easily removed if it gets beyond its bounds.
Ajuga is not a groundcover for everybody or to be placed in a mixed perennial border.
Ajuga is one of the best groundcovers for weed control. Weeds find it tough to sprout through their thick root system.
- Avoid “Ajuga lawn” by planting away from turf or you’ll have a co-mingling of lawn & Ajuga.
- Don’t plant anything nearby unless you are using beneath shrubs or trees.
- Thick root system makes Ajuga ideal for erosion control
- Ideal between pavers
- Excellent for large areas where you want to have a quick spread
- Ideal under shallow rooted trees where nothing else will grow
Nepeta or Catmint is one of the easiest drought proof ground covers you’ll ever grow. This sun perennial is a member of the mint family and known for its fragrant foliage & flowers. Catmint will fill in fast, thrive on neglect and little water, yet still reward you with long lasting blooms.
I’ve grown a number of varieties of Nepeta over the years, and one that I’m particularly fond of is Walker’s Low .(Zone 3 hardy) Just give this tough plant a sunny, well drained location and enjoy delightful blue blooms from early summer-frost.
Here’s why Nepeta is such a great plant:
- Terrific for banks and slopes. Drought tolerant so it can take those tough sites
- Edging – Gentle spilling habit softens any hardscape
- Ground cover – makes an excellent ground cover for sunny areas
- Sprawling habit fills in fast
- Blooms the first year
- 8” lavender blue spikes (I cannot get enough of blues!)
- Long bloom time
- Thrives will little water
- Garden Design – Cool blue Nepeta blooms combine so well with warm yellows/golds such as Rudbeckia or Coreopsis, For one of the longest blooming combinations, combine with Knock Out Roses.
- Resistant to pests and diseases
About the only thing I do is shear it back after its first flower flush. This not only makes for a tidy plant but encourages a new flush of blooms. I also remove old growth in early spring.
If you are looking for easy gardening – make sure you add Nepeta Walker’s Low to your list – you’ll be glad you gave it a try.
More on Nepeta:
Nepeta & Rose Collection
Since its discovery, Brunnera Jack Frost PP 13,859 has won numerous awards including Perennial Plant of the Year in 2012 and Best New Perennial of the Year at Plantarium, The Netherlands. Jack Frost has warmed the hearts of many gardeners both new and experienced. I can’t think of a more beautiful deer proof shade plant and one that is so adaptable in perennial garden design.
Few shade perennials have such interesting silver foliage throughout the season. This clump forming perennial is a versatile groundcover grows 15-18″ tall x 15-18″ wide. Hardy to zone 5 (probably hardier)
In spring, small oblong leaves gradually grow into larger heart-shaped leaves after the conclusion of the flowering period. Beautiful, wispy panicles of sky blue flowers appear in early spring.
How To Grow
- Does best in moisture retentive soil in part shade. In my area of the country (Michigan) it can take some pretty dry shade.
- Plant in area where it receives morning sun and afternoon shade. Watch for too much sun or hot spots.
- Don’t worry that the leaves are small in spring – they will get much larger (5-8″ across) as the plant grows.
- Best in moist soil. Add 3 inches of mulch to keep moist
- If you notice crispy leaf edges – plants are getting too dry. I ofte cut these leaves all the way back. Plants might stay dormant for a while before flushing out with new foliage growth.
- Cut back blooms after fading. Plants stays more attractive that way.
Here’s what you’ll love about this plant
- Silver shade plant. Why is that important? Silver infuses light into dark corners of the shade garden
- Foliage stays colorful and attractive throughout the season
- Blue flowers in spring – which compliments spring blooming bulbs
- Easy to grow – Prefers consistent moisture
- Low Maintenance
- Deer & Rabbit Resistant
- No serious insects or disease issues
- Late evening gardening – still visible at dusk
- It’s just plain gorgeous!
Stay tuned for our hands on Garden Design Tips with Brunnera in our next article
When it comes to my favorite shade plant, Brunnera ‘Jack Frost ’ PP13,859 easily comes to the top of my list. Few shade perennials have such interesting silver foliage through the season. This clump forming plant is a versatile deer proof groundcover that is widely adaptable to numerous shade garden designs such as woodland settings, near ponds – even containers.
I can’t think of a more beautiful plant to be named Perennial Plant of the Year in 2012 than Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’.
The foliage resembles crackled porcelain. In the shade garden it creates a shimmering silver contrast against other companion plants.
Here are a few Garden Design Tips to make Brunnera work for you your shade landscape.
Container Gardening. This is an easy shade container plant! I like using big pots when it comes to containers. Keep pots consistently moist. In the event plants wilt or the foliage begins looking tatty, simply trim off old foliage and new fresh foliage will emerge later.
Transition or Filler Plant. Brunnera is a delightful shade plant in garden design to transition or fill in between two large shrubs or perennials. This gives a wonderful flow to the garden.
Dark Foliage Plants. You can really make dark-leaf Heucheras, Red Coleus or other dark foliage plants pop with color when combined with silver Brunnera. Dark and light foliage plants pair well in garden design.
Leaf Shape Combinations. The heart-shape foliage of Brunnera contrasts with narrow leaf forms of shade Ornamental Grasses such as of Hakonechloa or Carex. I love combining Brunnera with with soft, airy-texture of Ferns.
Have Sun? Plant on the east side of the house, near a large boulder or large plant . Anywhere you can find shade from the afternoon sun.
Brunnera is such a terrific shade plant. I sincerely hope you included it in your garden design plans if you haven’t done so already!
Brunnera Jack Frost – Where to Buy