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Need ground cover under tree

Rutherfordton, NC(Zone 7a)

I need to plant a fast-growing ground cover on a slope under an old beech tree. I just had some old, riipped plastic pulled out. I assume the plastic was an attempt to hold soil or mulch (no mulch there, however). I'm in Rutherfordton, NC up towards the mountains. Any ideas?

Piedmont, SC(Zone 7b)

How about Homestead Purple Verbena? Spreads fast and blooms like crazy for me. In fact I had to cut it back several times and each time it just bloomed again! Plant Files says it should be ok in your zone.

Rutherfordton, NC(Zone 7a)

Thanks...I am going to try that although it seems to do better in a more sunny spot than this one. I'm also going to try vinca because it's fast and I got a ton of it cheaply. Know anything about that one?

Raleigh, NC

Vinca is fast and will probably do wonderfully there. In fact, I find it does wonderfully everywhere and have to fight a bit to keep it in check. If the area is surrounded by grass which will get mowed regularly then it should stay in bounds, but watch out if it's next to perennial beds as it will likely try to creep in and take over. -Ais.

Raleigh, NC(Zone 8b)

Vinca can be aggressive and is non-native plant. If you wanted to go with a native species or less invasive ground cover consider some on this list at the

another good site for what you are looking for

Hope this gives you some choices to best suit your needs.

Cary, NC(Zone 7b)

How about creeping phlox?


Rutherfordton, NC(Zone 7a)

I've discounted vinca. Doesn't get enough sun for creeping phlox. Local seedman recommened "creeping Charlie" which is variegated fast spreader that he says is easily removed if I change my mind. I'm sure it has another name.

Charleston, SC

If you haven't planted yet or are still looking for something different try something in the nettle family. Most are low growing, shade loving perennials requiring little maintenance. Varigated leaves and unobtrusive bloom make a pretty ground cover.

surfside beach, SC(Zone 8b)

What about Ajuga?There are many different colors and you get a bonus of blue flowers in the spring.I have them planted under live oak trees (now there's a challenge).They spread very quickly in sun but in the shade they are much slower and don't get carried away.

Raleigh, NC

Creeping Charlie (AKA ground ivy?) is not easy to get rid of. I am constantly battling it! It spreads on it's own but also seeds everywhere and resprouts easily from roots left in the soil. Please don't plant it. I don't know much about the variegated form, but I would find out if it's as bad before planting it. -Ais.

Hendersonville, NC(Zone 7a)

How about Lily of the Valley? Loves shade, spreads fast, even smells lovely. Does well in our area: I'm in Hendersonville.

Cullowhee, NC(Zone 6b)

Vickie, you don't say whether you want evergreen or deciduous. What about the surrounding area? Is it important to keep it contained, or can it be a rambunctious spreader?

Bluffton, SC(Zone 9a)

Can you grow Camellia there? Mine do great in deep shade under trees.

Columbia, SC

Glad to have found this thread because I'd like to plant some Lamium under my magnolia tree, but I'm not sure what the Lamium's moisture needs are. Any thoughts?

Cullowhee, NC(Zone 6b)

They like well-drained soil and it is said clay does not suit them. However, we have clay soil and it is invasive in two of our perennial beds (it was planted there by the previous owners).

I am so ambivalent about this plant. We have Lamiastrum galeobodolan ("Variegatum", I believe) and it looks lovely with our blue green junipers---but it grows into them, onto them, I'm constantly pulling it out. It would entirely cover them in a month, I bet. It was used properly in one place: a patch of mostly shady clay surrounded by concrete driveway and walkways. There, it can be contained and appreciated.

I would say if you want something that will really take off in part shade place, unless it's really soggy or 100% clay, use it.

Cullowhee, NC(Zone 6b)

P.S. Fleurs:

Ezra Haggard, in "Perennials for the Lower Midwest" says, regarding Lamiastrum galeobodolon, "...this vigorous runner performs impressively in dry, shady areas."

Cullowhee, NC(Zone 6b)

Haggard also recommends trying Hypericum calycinum, which is a creeping St. John's Wort, as ground cover for a dry shady area . I have no experience with this plant, but Mr. Haggard's book has been very helpful to me over the last decade, and his assessments are usually spot on.

ISBN0-253-33067-X is the paperback edition.

Cullowhee, NC(Zone 6b)

By the way, I have an experiment going in a trouble spot in my garden. It's on the mulch slope behind the house. It's clay and roots covered with a little mulch, mostly shady. Pretty steep. Anyway, I have transplanted 3 different ground covers from other places on the property, and I'm going to let them duke it out, and see who wins. Anybody want to bet who the winner will be?

Houttuynia cordata "Chameleon", Lamiastrum galeobodolon "Variegata", or Vinca?

Columbia, SC

My money's on the Houtuynia--

Bluffton, SC(Zone 9a)

Hey Fleurs I don't think Magnolia trees like anything growing right under them. Just from what I've seen.

(Zone 9a)

The Houttuynia will surely win but Miss G, I think you will lose big time with that one. What a thug it is; you'll be fighting it for years to come.

Cullowhee, NC(Zone 6b)

ardesia, I know. The previous inhabitants planted it under some shrubbery and the first spring it came up I was revolted, but not because I knew what it was. I simply did not like the way it looked. But...there is no way I can pull it all up, I am not physically capable of that, and I have come to (begrudgingly) appreciate the way it can grow where nothing else can. So I have transplanted some of it to a really barren spot. I can't imagine it will get out of hand there. It's right next to the forest. It's planted in pure clay which is completely full of thick locust tree roots and huge rocks. I hope I don't have to eat my words.

Columbia, SC

Actually, I have two Magnolias in a small bed between the garage wall and the front sidewalk. They would have been perfect because they were supposed to be 'Little Gem' Magnolias (20' tall, 10' wide), but one of the trees is much larger than the other and doesn't flower nearly as much. Of course that's the tree whose leaves drop the most often. Anyway, we finally limbed up both trees because they seemed to be way too heavy-looking. Much less leaf drop, too.

Right now I have white yarrow and 'Becky' Shasta daisies in that bed, but I added just a few Ox-Eye daisies this Spring for early color. Alyssum on the edges adds a little winter color, too, joined later by some 'Blue Hill' Salvias. The yarrow probably doesn't get enough sun there because it really flops.

Something about that bed bothers me, so I'll probably add a Yucca or Agave, something that won't mind the root competition and the sandy soil we have. Because the Magnolias are limbed up, sunshine does reach the bed, but shifts throughout the afternoon.

Cullowhee, NC(Zone 6b)

Fleurs, your comment about magnolia leaves dropping reminded me of something I saw in the last "Garden Design" magazine. They had several innovative "floral arrangements" by artists, and they were all so beautiful and original, so striking. One of them was a dense, sloping stack of magnolia leaves (with the rusty brown underside upward), and, sandwiched between two of the layers were yellow rose blossoms. It might sound weird, but it was really gorgeous.

Rutherfordton, NC(Zone 7a)

The Creeping Charlie has not taken off, but the area under the tree is rapidly being covered by a small-leaf plant that looks like a miniature sedum and is a light green. I should know what this is but don't. I remember seeing it in old-time gardens. It was here when I moved here evidently. Any ideas?

Columbia, SC

Could you show us a picture?

Raleigh, NC

I can vouch for hypericum calycinum for dry shade, but you need to contain it if it will be near perennial beds. It seems to spread indefinately and very fast. I have it contained with a simple black plastic edger. -Ais.

Rutherfordton, NC(Zone 7a)

I had not considered hypericum c...and have another spot for it. Thanks for reminding me!

Jackson, SC(Zone 7b)

I planted "Irish Moss" around one of my trees this spring and it is doing great. Beautiful deep green with very tiny white flowers. So far I am pleased with the look, feel, and spread.

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