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Perennials for Ground Cover

Turkish Speedwell (Veronica liwanensis)

CHOOSING THE RIGHT PLANT FOR THE JOB

One of the great things about Jeepers Creepers® is that they offer solutions to what many gardeners perceive as problem areas.  To help you find the right plant, we’ve created an amazing search feature on our sister site:  http://www.jeeperscreepers.info/ that can be used in a number of different ways.

FOOT TRAFFIC:

If you plan to walk on your Jeepers Creepers® plants, choose your varieties based on the required traffic tolerance.  We recommend that plants not be walked on until established, or whenever the soil is soggy wet.  Caution!   Plants growing between paving stones or as a lawn substitute can present a hazard for tripping or skidding.

  • No foot traffic:  Plants are either too tall to walk on, or too delicate to withstand it.
  • Light:  [1 shoe]  Walking directly on these once or twice a week will not cause serious damage.
  • Moderate:  [3 shoes]  Withstands being walked on once a day or so, generally fine between paving stones.
  • Heavy:  [5 shoes]  Nearly as durable as a regular lawn.  Low mat habit allows for easy travel.

KNOW YOUR LIGHT CONDITIONS:

  • Full Sun:  Think full, all day sun, with at most only a few hours of shade in the early morning or late afternoon.
  • Part Shade:  Direct sun hits the area for only about half the day.  Morning sun followed by afternoon shade, or vice versa.  This also includes dappled shade caused by a tall canopy of small-leaved deciduous trees, giving filtered light with occasionally beams of direct light.
  • Full Shade:  A common condition under large-leaved trees, evergreens or on the north side of buildings.  Note that under dense evergreens and large deciduous trees conditions of extreme dry shade can make it difficult to grow anything without regular deep, weekly watering all season long.  See below about “Extreme dry shade”.

SOIL MOISURE CONDITIONS

This varies widely from region to region and from one year to the next.  The most critical thing is knowing the conditions during the heat of summer.  If your soil generally dries out in July and August and you can’t supply extra water, choose drought-tolerant selections.  If you can supply deep regular weekly watering during dry spells, select plants for normal (average) moisture conditions.  If the area remains constantly moist through the growing season, select moisture-loving varieties.

Extreme dry shade
Growing anything in the extreme conditions of dry shade under shallow-rooted large trees (i.e. maples, willows, beech, but also pines, spruce, cedars and others) is difficult.  A tiny little groundcover finds it very hard to compete with the thirsty root system of a huge tree.  Look for plants that are rated as both drought tolerant and suitable for partial or full shade.

Plants rated for average to moist conditions will grow fine if you are willing to commit to watering them weekly throughout the growing season.  If you go away for extended periods during the summer then a mulch of pea gravel, bark mulch or other decorative material might be a better choice for those extremely dry and shady parts of the garden.

Blue Periwinkle (Vinca minor)

If a slightly taller plant might work in dry shade, consider using English Ivy (Hedera helix), Creeping Lamium (Lamium maculatum), False Lamium (Lamiastrum galeobdolon), Japanese Spurge (Pachysandra terminalis), Periwinkle (Vinca minor), Barrenwort (Epimedium) or Bigroot Cranesbill (Geranium macrorrhizum).

GROWING Jeepers Creepers® IN THE SOUTH:

In the hot & humid Zone 7 to 9 regions of the Southern USA, many of the plants grown successfully further north are just not happy.  Southerners should consult local reference books on perennials and groundcovers to find which are recommended for your area.  In general, many alpine plants native to high mountain regions will hate humid summer weather.  Also, plants with hairy or fuzzy leaves can rot from all of that summer rain and humidity, especially when the nights are warm.

For more information on Jeepers Creepers®, our ‘Down Low and Fun to Grow’ groundcovers, visit http://www.jeeperscreepers.info/