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Dress up your retaining wall, adorn a pathway, or plant living mulch with these low-growing or mounding perennials. We have featured some of our favorite plants from this category below to help you decide which varieties will be the best fit for your gardening project.

Full Sun (6 Hours or More)

*Indicates evergreen or semi-evergreen during winter

Arabis or Rock Cress: semi-evergreen, hardy perennial with a spreading/mounding habit and pink or white flowers in early spring (often into May); great for rock walls; drought tolerant and heat and sun loving; perfect for hot rock walls; grows to about 4-6 inches tall and spreads to about 18 inches; attracts early pollinators; deer and rabbit resistant

*Arctostaphylos uva-ursi or Kinnikinnick: one of our reliable native ground covers that is evergreen and very drought tolerant. Best in full sun or light shade, it has light pink, bell-shaped flowers in spring followed by a red berry in late summer. Bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds are attracted to the flowers. Grows 5-8 inches tall and spreads 2-5 feet. Excellent erosion control!

*Aubrieta or Purple Rock Cress or False Rock Cress: hardy, evergreen, alpine perennial covered with pale blue, pink, burgundy, purple-colored flowers in spring; plants have a mounding or cascading habit 4-9 inches tall by 12-24 inches wide/long; great for rock walls; best in full sun, but tolerant of light shade; extremely deer resistant and drought tolerant

Arabis or Rock Cress ground cover

Rock Cress

Kinnikinnick 'Vancouver Jade' groundcover


Aubrieta Axcent Magenta groundcover

Purple Rock Cress

Aurinia saxatilis or Basket-of-Gold: has grey-green foliage with bright yellow flowers in mid-spring (April-May); mounding plant that grows about 6 inches tall and spreads about 18 inches; best in full sun and very well-drained soil; attractive to beneficial insects and butterflies; deer resistant; great for rock walls

Cerastium tomentosum or Snow in Summer: has uniquely silver, fine, fuzzy foliage and is covered with a blanket of white flowers when in bloom, around June; short-lived perennial prefers full sun and well-draining, rocky soil; flowers attract pollinators and plants; deer and rabbit resistant; tolerates light foot traffic and great for rock walls

*Dianthus or Cheddar Pink: grows with a powder blue-green mat of fine, needle-like foliage topped with bright pink, clove-scented flowers in spring into summer; attractive to butterflies; evergreen foliage with drought tolerance is also deer and rabbit resistant; best in full sun and well-drained soil; great for rock walls

*Iberis sempervirens or Candytuft: evergreen, spreading perennial with tiny, dark green leaves and clusters of brilliant white flowers in early spring; grows to about 6 inches tall by 18 inches wide; best in full sun, but tolerant of light shade; flowers are attractive to butterflies and pollinators, yet plants are deer and rabbit resistant; excellent filler between shrubs or cascading over rock walls

Aurinia saxatilis Basket-of-Gold groundcover


Cerastium tomentosum Snow in Summer groundcover

Snow in Summer

Iberis 'Snowsation' Candytuft groundcover


*Lithodora: evergreen perennial in Zones 6-8 with intensely blue star-shaped flowers in spring that lightly repeat bloom in summer; means “stone gift” in Greek; thrives in full sun and rocky areas, growing to 6-10 inches tall by 2-3 feet wide; can tolerate some shade in hotter areas; prune back winter damage in early spring and again after flowering by 1/3 to keep plants looking fresh; deer resistant, flowers attract butterflies; tolerates light foot traffic and great for rock walls

Nepeta or Catmint: carefree perennial with periwinkle blue flowers from early summer until fall; mounding plant that grows 2-3 feet tall and wide; flowers are attractive to bees and butterflies and deer and rabbit resistant; nice filler plant between shrubs or on top of rock walls

Origanum ‘Kent Beauty’ or Ornamental Oregano: spreading habit with cool flowers that resemble hops in green and pink; summer blooming and attractive to pollinators; grows 6-8 inches tall by 8-12 inches wide; works great as filler between shrubs or on rock walls; best in full or partial sun

*Phlox subulata or Creeping Phlox: hardy alpine, evergreen perennial with a creeping/spreading habit; flowers bloom in early to mid-spring in colors of pink, pale blue, lavender, or white; grows to about 6 inches tall by 2 feet wide; needs full sun and very well-draining soil; attracts butterflies and is deer/rabbit resistant; tolerates foot moderate foot traffic and great for rock walls

Lithodora - vivid blue blooms against a green leafy background at a Dennis' 7 Dees Garden Center


Nepeta 'Walker's Low' Catmint groundcover


Origanum laevigatum 'Hopley′s Purple' Oregano groundcover


Saponaria or Soapwort: grows in full or partial sun and has naturalized in parts of Europe where it’s often called “Bouncing Bet” or “Lady by the Garden Gate”; considered weedy by some, this lovely free spirit blooms in bright pink in late spring to early summer; grows to about 4 inches tall by 18 inches wide and tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions; attractive to bees and butterflies and deer/rabbit resistant; tolerates light foot traffic and great for rock walls

*Sedum (Stonecrop) and Sempervivum: both are types of succulents and are available in a multitude of foliage forms, colors, and bloom styles; drought tolerant and low maintenance; spread quickly and grow in poor soils, best in full sun; summer flowers are attractive to pollinators and can be red, pink, yellow, or white; typically deer resistant, but can be bothered by squirrels; tolerate light to moderate foot traffic and great for rock walls; Delosperma included!

*Thymus serpyllum or Creeping Thyme: slightly different from standard culinary thyme, this ground cover thyme is very low growing with a spreading habit; tiny, aromatic foliage is evergreen; summer flowers are small, but plentiful in pink, red, or white; attractive to pollinators and deer/rabbit resistant; best in full sun with well-draining soil; tolerates moderate foot traffic

*Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Prostratus’ or Trailing Rosemary: edible rosemary with small, dark evergreen leaves and pale blue flowers in early spring that are attractive to bees and hummingbirds; deer and rabbit resistant; best in a slightly sheltered area in full or partial sun; beautiful cascading over rock walls

Sedum groundcover

Sedum Varietals, including Angelina, Blue Spruce, and Reflexus

hens and chicks groundcover


Creeping Rosemary 'Irene' groundcover


Partial Sun or Shade (4 Hours or Less)

*Indicates evergreen or semi-evergreen during winter

*Campanula ‘Birch Hybrid’ or Bellflower: adaptable perennial for sun or filtered shade; long blooming with bell-shaped, purple blue (blurple) flowers; plants grow about 6 inches tall by 18-20 inches wide; virtually pest free, deer and rabbit resistant, and semi-evergreen; lovely as a ground cover for light foot traffic or filler between shrubs, also nice on rock walls; ‘Dickson’s Gold’ has light green or chartreuse-colored foliage

*Lamium maculatum or Spotted Dead Nettle: useful groundcover to fill in between perennials and shrubs; deer and rabbit resisant; silver-veined leaves with flowers in pink, lavender, yellow, or white, on plants that grow to about 8 inches tall by about 18 inches wide; needs well draining soil; tolerant of light foot traffic and great for rock walls

Lysimachia nummularia or Creeping Jenny: low-growing, spreading perennial that loves moist soil conditions in sun or shade; foliage colors come in green, chartreuse, or burgundy and all have a golden yellow flower in late spring/summer; tolerant of light to moderate foot traffic; can spread aggressively in most soil, filling an area up to 2-3 square feet or more; deer and rabbit resistant

Campanula garganica 'Dickson's Gold' groundcover


Lamium or Spotted Dead Nettle groundcover

Spotted Dead Needle

Lysimachia 'Goldilocks' Creeping Jenny groundcover

Creeping Jenny

*Saxifraga ‘London Pride’: easy to grow, evergreen, clumping perennial for part shade to shade; similar looking to Hens and Chicks, it forms a thick, dense mat that chokes out weeds; late spring flowers are delicate and airy, held on wiry stems about 18 inches tall; plants spread to about 18-24 inches wide; deer and SLUG resistant and somewhat drought tolerant once established; not bothered by pests or diseases

*Veronica umbrosa ‘Georgia Blue’: lovely woodland groundcover for sun or partial shade; about 6 inches tall by 18 inches wide at maturity; features cobalt blue flowers in spring and again in fall with loose, mounding foliage that turns burgundy in winter months; flowers are attractive to pollinators; deer and rabbit resistant and drought tolerant; tolerates moderate foot traffic

*Vinca minor or Periwinkle or Creeping Myrtle: fast growing, evergreen ground cover for large areas in sun or shade; considered invasive by some; deer and rabbit resistant; has periwinkle blue flowers in early spring and sporadically in summer/fall; plants grow less than 12 inches tall and about as wide to form a dense mat that competes well with weeds; good filler between shrubs or cascading over rocks

Saxifraga 'London Pride' groundcover

Saxifraga ‘London Pride’

Veronica 'Georgia Blue' Creeping Speedwell groundcover

Georgia Blue

Vinca minor 'Alba' White Periwinkle groundcover

Creeping Myrtle


Follow along with our video class here: Ground Covers & Cascading Perennials


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