Shade Ground Cover With Flowers and Berries

Shade ground cover provides contrast and visual appeal, carpets bare spots, helps protect against soil erosion and can stabilize hillsides and steep slopes. Why have bare areas under trees or spots that get little sun? Transform it with shade ground cover, available in multiple varieties. Here are some points to consider. 

Shade Ground Cover Comes in Many Heights

Any perennial plant that can grow in shade and has the ability to spread can be considered shade ground cover. The range of ground cover height goes from a low of 1-inch high to up to 3 to 4 feet tall.

Condition Soil for Shade Ground Cover

Before you plant your shade ground cover perennials, condition the soil. This is especially important in areas beneath shade trees where the soil dries out faster. Tree roots rob the soil of moisture and nutrients.

First, condition the soil with compost. A couple of inches is good, working through the soil by hand (under trees, or rototill in other areas). Also be sure to eliminate all the weeds as well.

Consider Shade Ground Cover Foliage, Height, Width

You will likely need several different varieties of shade ground cover for your garden area. More than one type is recommended to prevent die-off due to a disease or pest that may attack a specific plant. When choosing shade ground cover perennials, consider the type of foliage, texture, flowers and/or berries the plant produces, and any height and width requirements. Choose a mixture that includes low-height varieties, mid-range and taller perennials.

Shade Ground Cover With Flowers and Berries

Choose shade ground cover that grows well in your climate zone. Some varieties listed here may not grow where you live, but your nursery can recommend native perennials like them that will do well.

  • Mock Strawberry – Grows in zones 4 to 6, with yellow flowers in late spring. An aggressive creeper, this shade ground cover produces inedible red fruit.
  • Alpine Strawberry (also Wild Strawberry) – Edible berries, white flowers with semi-evergreen foliage. The wild strawberry grows only to 5 inches in height.
  • Kinnikinnick (or Bearberry) – Attractive evergreen leaves and spring flowers in shades of pink to white, followed by red berries in fall and winter. This perennial grows in the wild from California to Alaska and is often found on hilly slopes. Prefers sun, but will also grow in shade if tended properly.
  • Solomon’s Seal – Widespread in eastern North America, this perennial ground cover grows from 1 to 3 feet in height. Small white bell-shaped flowers hang in pairs from leaves, blooming from April to June. In August through October, bluish-black berries appear.
  • Lilyturf – Zones 4 to 10, lilyturf, also known as liriope, grows to 1 foot high. One variety, liriope Spicata, produces spikey flowers ranging in color from white to lavender. Dark berries appear in autumn.
  • Lonicera John Clayton Honeysuckle Vine – Perfect for arbors and privacy screens, this honeysuckle variety grows in zones 4 though 9 and features buttery-yellow trumpet-shaped flowers from early summer through autumn, followed by the arrival of crimson red berries. Plants reach up to 12 feet wide by 3 to 4 feet tall.