General gardening topics

Top 10 Fast Growing Groundcover Plants

Last updated on March 6th, 2022

Our site is reader supported, this means we may earn a small commission from Amazon and other affiliates when you buy through links on our site.

There are many areas in your garden where flowers can be hung, vegetables can be grown, but what about the rest of the space? If you have an area of land, you know that it’s important to add groundcover. But for many, they need fast-spreading groundcover plants, specifically those that will cover an area very quickly.

Groundcover plants to cover an area quickly help to add character and detail to an existing space. A rocky garden for example with large boulders spaced throughout can be accented with a fast-spreading groundcover plant. A woodland area can be made to look fuller using groundcover plants to fill in the existing gaps between trees and shrubs.

Below are 10 of our favourite plants that are fast-growing and appropriate for groundcover, including both shrubs and perennials so there is sure to be something perfect for your own needs.

The main image is Creeping Phlox, which you will find on our list.


Fast Growing Groundcover Shrubs

1. Vinca minor or Vinca major – Periwinkle

Vinca minor - fast growing ground cover shrub
Vinca Minor/Major (Periwinkle)

This evergreen (award-winning) shrub is popular, not just for the flowers, but for its ability to form a mat-like carpet of groundcover. It develops long, prostrate stems that produce sea green shaded leaves and violet coloured flowers reaching 5cm across. The flowers appear mid-spring and remain until autumn. These stems grow into the form of a rich, dense carpet that naturally suppresses weeds.

It can reach heights of 20cm and when allowed to grow as a groundcover it will create lush tangles and tumble over any land you have. To that end, to cover a large swath of land, you should plant new Periwinkles 30cm apart but for smaller spaces, only 20cm apart. It has got to be one of the best low growing evergreen shrubs.

It works well as a groundcover plant, specifically for slopes or underneath shrubs because it is hardy, requires little maintenance and is resistant to rabbits and deer so if you do have problems with rabbits or deer, this is a good plant to consider.


2. Pachysandra Terminalis – Japanese Spurge

This plant is very strong and it's the strength that makes it quite useful in your yard. This plant is very tolerant of changing seasons and belongs to the boxwood family.
Pachysandra Terminalis (Japanese Spurge)

The Japanese Spurge is part of the Boxwood family and is actually an evergreen perennial that is often considered a shrub. It offers beautiful foliage that remains looking well throughout winter, only yellowing a bit. This groundcover plant offers white flowers come spring (as shown above) but for the remainder of the year it is well known for its dark green leaves that are perfect for suppressing weeds.

This plant is best for groundcover in rocky areas and grows prolifically in full sunlight and with acidic soil. It is quite tolerant of shade, drought, pests and clay-heavy soil which makes it ideal for gardens rife with wildlife, particularly gardens where wildlife has consumed other plants and flowers. Moreover, it does well in dry shade which is one of the more challenging growing environments for traditional plants. Extremely hardy.


3. Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Carpet’

This plant gets its name from the blue hued tones it takes on and the dense carpeting clumps in which it grows. Blue carpet is particularly useful in areas where you want thicker, taller ground cover around trees or empty regions of the garden, not in areas where you want flat cover in between rocks.
Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Carpet’

This plant gets its name from the blue-hued tones it takes on and the dense carpeting clumps in which it grows. The Juniperus Blue Carpet is particularly useful in areas where you want thicker, taller groundcover around trees or empty areas of the garden and not in areas where you want flat cover in between rocks.

Ideal as a specimen shrub or a bushy groundcover, there is no pruning required which makes it a low maintenance solution. If allowed to thrive, it will reach up to 150cm wide and 30cm tall. It grows well in most soils, full sun and is quite a drought tolerant conifer once it is fully established.


4. Ceanothus thrysifolius repens – Creeping Blue Blossom

Ceanothus thrysifolius repens - Called the low blue blossom for a reason, this plant produces sky blue flowers in large puffs, tantamount to light blue balls of cotton. It is an evergreen ground cover shrub that is tolerant of full sun or partial shade. It will grow in sand or clay soil which makes it an excellent choice for any coastal or near coastal gardens. In fact, it excels in clay soil along slopes, especially if afforded protection against any winds.
Ceanothus thrysifolius repens

Called the Creeping Blue Blossom for a reason, this plant produces sky blue flowers in large puffs, comparable to light blue balls of cotton. It is an evergreen groundcover shrub that is tolerant of full sun or partial shade. It will grow in sand or clay soil which makes it an excellent choice for any coastal (or near coastal) garden. In fact, it excels in clay soil along slopes, especially if afforded protection against any winds.

A fairly drought tolerant plant, it will add light sage green and baby blue colours to your garden with little maintenance required and even less watering. Grows to around 1-1.5 metres tall with a spread of around 2.5-4 metres.


5. Euonymus fortuneii ‘Blondy’

Euonymus Blondy ground cover plant
Euonymus fortuneii ‘Blondy’

The Euonymus Blondy gets its name from the bright yellow leaves it produces each of which are lined with thin, dark green margins. The plants grow in mound shapes and will not sprawl out of control like other groundcover plants, making it perfect to place along paths, patios and driveways, or for mass planting in and around trees on your property.

It requires partial to full sun and regular watering. The yellow leaves offer year-round visual interest so using it in pots or as a low-growing hedge or border is sure to brighten up an otherwise monochromatic landscape.


Fast Growing Groundcover Perennials

6. Geranium x Johnsonii – Johnson’s Blue

For this plant the height and the spread you are able to achieve is going to vary greatly from one variety to another it’s important to check the exact specifications as well as the growing conditions for the variety that you choose. Once you pick the variety that you prefer you will find that it is incredibly easy to propagate and to share with other visitors to your garden.
Geranium x Johnsonii (Johnson’s Blue)

The Geranium Johnson’s Blue will offer blue and violet coloured flowers from June through September, so if the other perennials in your garden are early bloomers, this late bloomer can fill in when they are done. It naturally attracts butterflies and is quite tolerant of deer or rabbits, so those who have had bad luck with deer consuming every plant in sight will benefit greatly from incorporating this into existing groundcover.

Purportedly a hybrid, it has been popular throughout British gardens since the 1950’s offering dense, spreading mounds with saucer-shaped flowers blooming in clusters and standing offset by the dark green leaves. A popular groundcover Geranium that is available at most well-stocked garden centres.


7. Alchemilla mollis – Ladies Mantle

Lady’s Mantle is a clumping perennial which creates long, circular leaves with scalloped edges and shallow lobes. There are star-shaped flowers that grow in loose clusters on top of each stem come spring time.
Alchemilla mollis (Ladies Mantle)

The Lady’s Mantle is a clumping perennial that creates long circular leaves with scalloped edges and shallow lobes. There are star-shaped flowers that grow in loose clusters on top of each stem come spring.

This plant boasts an ornamental design all year round with showy flowers that work well when dried and taken indoors. The colourful leaves are tolerant of deer and rabbits too. It prefers well-drained soil, full to partial shade and will perform best with afternoon shade if possible.


8. Phlox subulata – Creeping Phlox

This perennial plant is native to Woodlands around the world and brings with it beautiful strength and cover for your yard. This perennial does not need to be replaced which is what makes it so effective as ground cover.
Phlox subulata (creeping phlox)

Not all groundcover needs to be green and boring. With the Creeping Phlox, you can get a variety of pastel shades in pink, purple, blue and white hues. Mixing and matching them in your flowerbeds means a vibrant groundcover that is so rich in medium-sized flower clusters that the green foliage below is almost invisible.

Creeping Phlox is often considered one of the most colourful groundcover plants. This herbaceous perennial will bloom profusely at the end of spring with very fragrant flowers. It forms a mat, reaching up to 15cm tall and up to 60cm wide. It often resembles a carpet of moss before the flowers make their appearance. In winter it offers an evergreen colour and protection to provide groundcover all year round and suppress weeds.


9. Bergenia cordifolia – Elephants Ears

Elephants ears might have an odd name, but rest assured they make for the perfect ground cover in gardens where an awkward space is in need of filling. These tough ground cover plants take on so many colors and shades that gardens are soon overgrown with beetroot, dark red shoots alongside green leaves in abundance.
Bergenia cordifolia (Elephants ears)

Elephant’s Ears might seem an odd name, but rest assured they make for the perfect groundcover in gardens where an awkward space is in need of filling.

These tough groundcover plants take on so many colours and shades that gardens are soon overgrown with beetroot, dark red shoots alongside green leaves in abundance. Absolutely stunning when in flower.


10. Ajuga reptans ‘Burgundy Glow

Perennials will grow regularly and this is no exception. This particular perennial is also referred to as the carpet bugle and it is a semi evergreen perennial that is part of the mint family. It offers beautiful flowers of blue and purple that grow in whorl designs.
Ajuga Reptans (burgundy glow)

The Ajuga Burgundy glow (also known as the Carpet Bugle) is just one of many varieties of Ajuga. It will offer a nice geometric style to your garden, producing upright shoots of green leaves tinged with yellow/cream hues and small, purple-blue flowers jutting out of each swath of leaves. Moreover, these leaves change their exterior tinge, from burgundy to pale green to cream. Even when planted in shaded locations they will form dense carpet-like mats and work well as a decadent groundcover plant. They are quick-spreading once fully established.

Uncredited photos: Shutterstock.

Last update on 2022-03-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Welcome to my site, my name is John and I have been lucky enough to work in horticultural nurseries for over 15 years in the UK. As the founder and editor as well as researcher, I have a City & Guilds Horticultural Qualifications which I proudly display on our About us page. I now work full time on this website where I review the very best gardening products and tools and write reliable gardening guides. Behind this site is an actual real person who has worked and has experience with the types of products we review as well as years of knowledge on the topics we cover from actual experience. You can reach out to me at john@pyracantha.co.uk

Write A Comment