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Ajuga reptans
Ajuga reptans 'Bronze Beauty'
Ajuga reptans 'Burgundy Glow'


Height         3-4 inches (8-10 cm), flowers to 6" (15 cm)

Spread        12-24 inches (30-60 cm), continually spreading

Foliage        'Bronze Beauty' has large dark burgundy and green leaves
                  'Burgundy Glow' has variegated cream, pink and gray leaves

Flower         Bluish-violet, attracts bumblebees

Blooming     Late spring

Hardiness    Zone 3-9

Light           Part shade best, full sun and full shade tolerated

Moisture      Average, regular moisture

Soil             Well-drained, lighter soils prevent root rots


Bugle weed is one of the best-known perennials and a large drift in full flower is spectacular! Typically in May, 6" blue flower spikes appear above rapidly spreading stoloniferous rosettes. Both cultivars are suitable for stabilizing slopes or as a weed suppressing plant. Edge garden beds regularly to prevent Ajuga from creeping into the lawn and natural areas. Cut back, weed-whip or mow after flowering to prevent undesired seeding. 

Grow-Me-Instead Alternatives

Asarum canadense (Canadian Ginger)

Sold in 4" (10 cm) pots

Lily of the Valley
Convallaria majalis


Height         8-12 inches (20-30 cm)

Spread        24-36 inches (30-45 cm) in 2-3 years

Flower         White, very fragrant

Blooming     Spring

Hardiness    Zone 2-7

Light           Part shade to full shade

Moisture      Average to moist, tolerates periodic drought

Soil             Humus-rich, neutral to acidic 


The creeping root stock allows rapid spread under optimum garden conditions. The 2-3 basal leaves are lanceolate-ovate and about 8" long. The arching one-sided racemes carry numerous tiny, bell-like white flowers producing a showy ground cover in especially difficult shady locations. Edge garden beds to prevent rhizomes from creeping beyond the garden, and do not throw garden waste including rhizomes or red berries into natural areas. The plant is poisonous if ingested.

Grow-Me-Instead Alternatives

Sold in 4" (10 cm) pots

Convallaria majalis
Euonymus 'Coloratus'
Purpleleaf Wintercreeper
Euonymus fortunei 'Coloratus'


Height         12-18 inches (30-45 cm)

Spread        24-36 inches (60-90 cm) 

Foliage        Evergreen

Hardiness    Zone 5-9

Light           Full sun to part shade

Moisture      Average

Soil             Adaptable

A popular and tough landscaping selection with dark green foliage turning purplish-red fall and winter, returning to green once again in the spring. Rapid growth and rooting stems are exceptional for stabilizing slopes and run-off in urban settings. A year-round evergreen plant produces a dense carpet beginning with juvenile leaves are paired, elliptic to oval, to 2" long, followed by adult foliage becoming thicker, more leathery and more rounded with maturity. Generally does not flower unless allowed to climb. Hedge back to renew growth and prevent spread into natural areas. 

Grow-Me-Instead Alternatives

Sold in 100-ct grower's flats, 4" (10 cm) pots and 1 gallon

Galium odoratum
Sweet Woodruff
Galium odoratum


Height         6-8 inches (15-20 cm)

Spread        12 inches (30 cm)

Flower         White

Blooming     Late spring

Hardiness    Zone 3-8

Light           Part shade to full shade

Moisture      Average to dry

Soil             Adaptable, may not persist in wet, heavy soils

A useful, fast-spreading, mat-forming ground cover with 1.5 cm long, 1.5 cm wide, sessile leaves borne in whorls of 6-8 at each node along the length of the square stems. The roots are slender and creeping making the plants particularly effective and tolerant in dry shade and filling in gaps around clump-forming perennials. The tiny star-like white flowers are held in loosely branched cymes. When in full flower in the spring, plants look like newly fallen snow. The entire plant smells like new-mown hay when crushed or dried, thus one of the common names, bedstraw. The leaves are an ingredient for potpourri and sachets and are traditionally as a moth deterrent. Plants have also been used to flavour everything from wine and brandies to sorbets and fruit salads.

Sold in 4" (10 cm) pots

Lamium maculatum
Spotted Dead Nettle
Lamium maculatum 'Pink Pewter'
Lamium maculatum 'White Nancy'

Height         6-10 inches (15-25 cm)

Spread        12-16" inches (30-40 cm) 

Flower         Light pink, deep pink or white

Blooming     Summer to Fall

Hardiness    Zone 3-8

Light           Part shade to shade

Moisture      Average to dry, cool

Soil             Well-drained, rich acidic loam

This charming little ground cover will attract bumblebees and light up the shady corners of the garden. The stems are often stoloniferous and creeping at the base while the variegated silvery 1-2” long oppositely arranged leaves are generally ovate to kidney shaped with rounded teeth about their margins. Most often used on a small scale, it’s foliage contrasts nicely with the darker leaves of other plants. No foot traffic is tolerated. White or pink hooded flower clusters appear beginning in late spring and continue sporadically until fall. Edge garden bends to prevent spread and do not toss garden clippings into natural areas. 


Sold in 4" (10 cm) pots

Creeping Jenny
Lysimachia nummularia
Lysimachia nummularia 'Aurea'


Height         1-2 inches (2-5 cm)  

Spread        24-36 inches (60-90 cm) per year under ideal conditions

Flower         Yellow

Blooming     Spring, sporadically to fall

Hardiness    Zone 3-8

Light           Sun to shade

Moisture      Average to dry

Soil             Adaptable


This plant remains a low growing, 1-2” tall indefinite-spreading/trailing, tenacious, herbaceous ground cover creating a mossy blanket in beds, along the edge of a stream or pond. It’s ideal for planting in between stepping stones and alongside woodland paths. Leaves nearly round, to 1” wide, and coloured medium to dark green or bright golden. Borne at their bases are 3/4” buttercup yellow flowers that nicely lends contrast during early summer (and sometimes sparingly thereafter until fall). Quite tolerant of shady locations. Edge garden bends to prevent spread and do not toss garden clippings into natural areas.

Grow-Me-Instead Alternatives

Anemone canadensis (Canada anemone)

Podophyllum peltatum (Mayapple)

Sanguinaria canadensis (Bloodroot)

Sold in 4" (10 cm) pots


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Japanese Spurge
Pachysandra terminalis


Height         6-12 inches (15-30 cm)

Spread        12-24 inches (30-60 cm) per year under ideal conditions

Flower         White

Blooming     Spring

Hardiness    Zone 3-8

Light           Part-shade to full shade

Moisture      Average to dry

Soil             Adaptable


Pachysandra continues to be amongst the most popular evergreen ground covers in use today. It thrives across a large geographic range, under most mature tree canopies, seldom encounters serious pest or disease problems, and once filled in, it can be relied upon for many years of maintenance free weed-smothering service. Though growth is slow, it thrives in shade under trees, around shrubs, near walkways, and around building foundations. Leaves are more or less oval-shaped, 2-4” long, grouped in whorls and shiny medium green year round. The pleasantly fragrant, short-lived, spikelike white flowers are borne in profusion in the spring.

Sold in 100-ct growers' flats, 36-cell XL plugs and 4" (10 cm) pots

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