Groundcovers are plants that grow close to the ground and blanket the soil in a dense mat. They are often an afterthought in landscape design and if they are considered, it is usually Pachysandra or Vinca, both of which provide no benefit to pollinators. Aesthetically groundcovers soften edges along paths and borders and cover unattractive bare soil. Functionally, they choke out weeds and eliminate the expense and yearly effort of mulching planting beds. Groundcovers also reduce the need to water by holding moisture in the soil. In addition to these eco-friendly advantages, some groundcovers are sure to bring more pollinators into your garden. So in light of all these great benefits, I encourage you to try incorporating groundcovers into your landscape. To get you started, the following are five attractive groundcovers that pollinators are sure to love.
1. Creeping Phlox (Phlox stolonifersa)
Phlox stolonifera, native to the United States, grows up to 1 foot and does best in full sun to part shade. It blooms in spring to summer and is available in a variety of colors including pink, lavender-blue, violet and white. It is attractive to pollinators and butterflies.
2. Tiarella cordifolia (Foamflower)
Tiarella cordifolia, another native of the United States, comes in a variety of leaf and flower colors. Pictured above is Tiarella 'Pink Skyrocket'. It grows best in part sun to full shade with the foliage reaching a height of about 10" and the flowers 24" The bottlebrush-like flowers bloom in the spring and attract bees, pollinating flies, moths and butterflies.
3. Asarum canadense (Wild Ginger)
Asarum canadense is also native to the United States and grows best in part shade to full shade. It reaches a maximum height of 1 foot. The inconspicuous, purple-brown flowers bloom in spring and while not a noticeable feature, the fly and ant pollinators flock to them.
4. Geranium maculatum (Wild Geranium)
Geranium maculatum is a native to Northeastern United States. It blooms in early spring and comes in several colors from pale pink to lilac. It grows best in full sun to part shade and reaches a height of 1.5 to 2 feet. It attracts bees, flies, beetles and butterflies.
5. Lamium maculatum (Spotted Deadnettle)
Although the only non-native groundcover listed here, Lamium maculatum's non-invasive nature and its nectar and pollen rich flowers make it a good choice for attracting pollinators. The flowers come in varieties of pink and white and the best cultivars have striking variegated foliage. Growing best in part to full shade, it reaches a height of under 1 foot.