Creeping Evergreen Plants For Zone 9: Choosing Evergreen Groundcover Plants For Zone 9

By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer

Evergreen groundcovers are just the ticket if you’ve got a difficult spot where nothing else will grow, where soil erosion is causing problems, or if you’re simply in the market for a beautiful, low-maintenance plant. Selecting evergreen groundcover plants for zone 9 isn’t difficult, although zone 9 evergreen groundcovers must be sturdy enough to withstand the climate’s hot summers. Read on for five suggestions that are bound to pique your interest.

Zone 9 Evergreen Groundcovers

Interested in growing zone 9 evergreen groundcovers? The following plants are certain to thrive in your region and provide year-round coverage:

Beach morning glory – Also known as bayhops or railroad vine (Ipomoea pes-caprae), this is among the most prolific creeping evergreen plants for zone 9. The plant, which grows in a variety of difficult conditions, produces bright pink blooms sporadically all year long. Although the vine is a native plant and isn’t considered invasive, beach morning glory is a fast-growing plant that requires plenty of room to spread.

Pachysandra – Pachysandra (Pachysandra terminalis) is an evergreen groundcover that thrives in shade – even bare, ugly spots under pines or other evergreen trees. Also known as Japanese spurge, pachysandra is a fast-growing plant that will spread to form an attractive green blanket relatively quickly.

Japanese ardisia – Also known as marlberry, Japanese ardisia (Ardisia japonica) is a low-growing shrub marked by glossy, leathery leaves. Small, pale pink or white flowers appear in mid- to late summer, soon followed by shiny red berries that soon ripen to black. This is an excellent choice for full or partial shade, but be sure to give it plenty of space. (Note: Beware of coral ardisia (Ardisia crenata), which is considered invasive in certain areas.)

Wedelia – Wedelia (Wedelia trilobata) is an attractive low-growing plant that produces mats of foliage topped by masses of yellow-orange, marigold-like blooms. This adaptable plant tolerates full sun or partial shade and nearly any well-drained soil. Although the plant is an attractive and effective groundcover, it is considered an aggressive nuisance in some areas. Check with your local cooperative extension office for more information about invasiveness potential.

Liriope – Also known as lilyturf, liriope (Liriope muscari) is a grassy, low-maintenance plant that grows in moist soil and conditions ranging from partial shade to full sunlight. The plant, which produces spikes of showy lavender-purple blooms in late summer and early autumn, is available with either green or variegated foliage.

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Read more about Zone 9, 10 & 11

Small Evergreen Landscaping Plants

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Evergreen plants form the backbone of a landscape. Unlike deciduous plants or perennials that lose their foliage during the cooler months, evergreens keep their leaves year round, making them an appropriate choice for borders, low hedges, ground covers and other sites requiring constant color and texture. Small evergreens run the gamut, from dwarf trees to ground covers just a few inches tall. When choosing small evergreens for your landscape, choose varieties that thrive in your planting site’s specific cultural conditions.

How to Mass Plant Groundcovers

The typical American yard is a bed of manicured lawn grass, requiring frequent mowing, edging, weeding and fertilizing, as well as chemical control for pests, diseases and weeds. It doesn’t have to be that way. In many situations, masses of low growing perennials covering the ground can be just as useful as traditional “golf course” grass. Well-established groundcovers of flowering or foliage plants never needs mowing or spraying. It is more interesting, more attractive, and easier to maintain than a traditional lawn. Use this as a guide on how to mass plant groundcovers in your landscape.

Most Popular Ground Covers

Liriope Royal Purple Shrub

Variegated Liriope Shrub

Asiatic Jasmine Shrub

Cephalotaxus Spreading Yew Shrub

Herbaceous perennials or shrubs that are short, vigorous and quick to spread laterally make fine nonflowering or flowering groundcover plants when they are spaced close together and allowed to form an unbroken mass of foliage. Groundcovers can be useful for stabilizing steep banks where lawn-mowing is impractical.

Many low maintenance ground covers thrive in shade gardens and can be used under ornamental shrubs and trees where grass would never survive. Use groundcovers where foot traffic is minimal such as the edges of beds and pathways, between flowering shrubs or along the outer perimeter of your landscape. A low growing groundcover makes an excellent canvas for flowering bulbs and does not need to be mowed as would lawn grass. Choosing native plants will ensure you are growing plants from your region that are less susceptible to pests and diseases. Although, most groundcovers are worry free. For example, a Massachusetts ground cover plant could best be found on this site.

Select the right ground covers for the site

The accompanying table lists several popular groundcover plants and some characteristics of each. Try a few different ground covers to see which do best in your particular application. Try creating a patchwork of groundcovers with different textures, colors and heights.

Or for leveled terraces on a slope, dig the soil at least six inches deep and work in 2-3 inches of organic material such as rotted manure, compost, leaf mold or peat. Install the weed resistant landscape fabric if desired.

Set out your plants on an overcast day, especially if the area is in full sun. Water the starter plants before removing them from their containers. If there is more than one starter plant per container, carefully separate the individual plants under running water and spread out any tangled roots before planting. Space the starter plants as suggested in the table, cutting slits in the fabric as necessary. Set them the same depth as they were in the containers. The closer you space them, the sooner they will cover the large area.

Spread organic mulch such as wood chips, pine needles or shredded leaves in the gaps between the starter plants. The mulch will help keep weeds in check, help retain moisture in the soil, and help to reduce drastic variations in soil temperature. It also looks better than the landscape fabric. As the mulch decomposes, it adds nutrients to the soil. Water thoroughly and water frequently during the first growing season. After that, you should water your groundcover as needed, depending on the rainfall. It can take 2-3 years for a groundcover to reach its full potential. Check on your growing conditionals frequently when mass planting shrubs.

Once established, your groundcover will outcompete and choke out weeds, but you will need to pull (not dig) weeds until the groundcover has covered the ground. You will probably need to pull weeds for a year or two. Don’t try to remove autumn’s fallen leaves from the groundcover planting either. Allow these to decompose and add fertility to the soil. They also provide protection from extreme cold during the winter as mulch. You can broadcast a pelleted fertilizer as directed in early spring. Do this when the foliage is dry.

Most flowering ground cover plants are drought tolerant once established. But it does take a full growing season for them to establish a strong root system. Water thoroughly every other day or few days the first few weeks of planting if it does not rain.

You can purchase these from a garden center… or better yet, you can have us ship them directly to your front door so you never have to leave. Contact us with any ground cover related questions. We are happy to help.

UNH Extension

For those who want to reduce the amount of turf grass in their garden or have areas that are difficult to mow, a perennial groundcover species may be the perfect choice. Groundcovers are an integral part of any low maintenance landscape. They reduce erosion, lessen weed incursion, require relatively few inputs and don’t require mowing. Groundcovers are particularly useful on slopes, which are prone to unstable soils.

Many gardeners think of groundcovers as low growing, herbaceous, evergreen plants that spread quickly to form thick layers of vegetation. While this certainly describes the typical groundcover such as spurge (Pachysandra) or English ivy, there are many other options. Many other herbaceous perennials and shrubs make great groundcovers. Steep, sunny slopes are perfect for perennials such as daylilies, creeping phlox, lamb’s ears, stonecrop and a variety of ornamental grasses. A number of woody plants can also serve as good groundcovers, especially creeping juniper, fragrant sumac, bearberry, and Russian arborvitae.

Daylily, a great perennial groundcover for steep, sunny slopes

Although groundcovers are generally low maintenance plants, they will still require some care, especially until they become established in the landscape. Until the new ground cover fills in, it can be assumed that weeds will make their way into the garden. Some groundcovers are more prone to weed problems than others. Short, herbaceous ground covers are more likely to become infested with weeds than taller shrubs, because taller plants do a better job of blocking light from reaching the soil.

Lamb's ear, another perennial that can be used as a groundcover on steep, sunny slopes

It’s also important to note the ways that the groundcover spreads. Be wary of plants that propagate by suckers, stolons, or rhizomes. These perennials often spread quickly outside of their intended borders and sneak into neighboring beds, lawns, or woodland areas. A number of groundcovers can verge on the point of being invasive so do your homework before you plant. Ask UNH Extension for specific ground cover recommendations for your own yard.

Pictured at the top: creeping phlox, a great choice for a perennial groundcover for steep, sunny slopes.

Watch the video: Great Low Maintenance Foundation Plants for Horticultural Zone 8. Part 1

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