10 Best Flowering Ground Covers for Full Shade

Most flowering ground covers won’t bloom profusely in the shade. But with thousands of plant species to choose from, these select few will flower and thrive not only in partial shade but full shade!

Hydrangea, twinflower, bugleweed, green and gold, snowdrop anemone, big root geranium, rose of Sharon, winter jasmin, wild blue phlox, and creeping phlox are ground covers that bloom in shade. This combination will leave you with endless color choices from yellow, purple, white, pink, blue, and more.

Any plant will push out more flowers in a less shady position. If you’re looking to flower up an area with partial shade, a whole lot more options are available to you and I suggest you look for ground covers by your growing zone so you don’t miss out on any of the best options.

See: Best Zone 6 Ground Covers for Shade (With Pics) (this will lead you to zones 5, 4, 3, and 2)

See credit details below (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)

For large spaces consider planting several flowering ground covers that bloom during different intervals during each season.

Here’s a table to show you when to expect each of these plants to bloom. This can help you mix and match plants so you can potentially have blooms all season in the shade.

Flowers for shadeSpring BloomSummer bloomFall bloomWinter bloom
Carpet BugleweedLateAllNoneNone
Green and goldLateAllMidNone
Snowdrop anemoneMidNoneNoneNone
Bigroot GeraniumLateSometimesNoneNone
Rose of SharonNoneMidAllNone
Winter jasminMidNoneNoneMid
Wild blue phloxLateEarlyNoneNone
Creeping phloxMidLateNoneNone
A bloom time frame reference of the best flowering & shade-loving ground covers.

While many of these flowering ground covers are planted for ornamental purposes in shade, many are also native and beneficial to our fellow pollinators. Pollinators rely on a variety of flowers throughout our landscapes to have access to food.

If you love several options, I suggest choosing a variety of flowering ground covers to add interest and strength to the darker spaces.

Hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala)

Photo by: Wendy Cutler, Taken on July 18, 2018, Hydrangea-anomala / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

This hydrangea (anomala) is a fast-growing deciduous perennial that spreads or climbs up to 40 feet in length. It grows in full shade, partial shade, or with no shade—as long as its roots stay moist.

Related: 16 Fast-Growing Ground Covers to Make Shade Lush

While native to Asia, hydrangeas are grown all over because it is favorably ornamental. Most North American areas consider this aggressive by nature but not necessarily invasive to natives.

  • Height: 3-4 inches
  • Range: Asia
  • Climate: Zones 4-8
  • Functions: Ornamental—the flower color is largely affected by soil acidity and is grown for show. Leaves and sap are sweet and edible.
  • Light requirements: Full/deep shade to partial shade.
  • Soil preferences: Well-drained moist soils.

Find seeds here. It’s also known as “climbing hydrangea” and is available as plant starts in containers.

Twinflower (Linnaea borealis)

Twin flowers bloom from May to August on a creeping evergreen vine with a dense carpeting habit. This ground cover is a perfect choice for acidic soils as it requires a below-7 pH to thrive.

  • Height: 4 inches
  • Range: Northern hemisphere
  • Climate: Zones 2-6
  • Functions: The leaves are edible and potentially medicinal for women. A scented ground cover for acidic environments, rock gardens, wild, native, or woodland gardens, and food forests.
  • Light requirements: Full/deep shade to partial shade.
  • Soil preferences: Moist soil with light to heavy texture.

Wood Brook Native Plant Nursery offers twinflower here.

Carpet Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans)

By: manuel m. v. / https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/

Also known as Bugleweed, it forms a dense mat with spikes of blue flowers. It has small creeping foliage and keeps snug to the ground.

Bugleweed is a popular ground cover as it thrives in several conditions including dry shade.

  • Height: 4-8 inches.
  • Range: Europe, Asia, North Africa.
  • Climate: Zones 3-10
  • Functions: Attracts bees and butterflies. Edible leaves and shoots. Cute carpeting ground coverage. Medicinal benefits. Ideal for rock gardens, erosion control, low growing ground coverage, and usefulness.
  • Light requirements: Full/deep shade to partial shade.
  • Soil preferences: Moist or wet soil. Tolerates droughts.

Plants and seeds are available here.

Green and gold (Chrysogonum virginianum)

Photo by: peganum, Taken on April 25, 2020, Chrysogonum virginianum australe

Often used as an alternative to creeping jenny or winter creeper as it’s a beautiful native plant that grows just as fast.

An easy-going and low-maintenance native ground cover with soft-petalled and nectar-filled flowers. This is a very popular ground cover as it fulfills ornamental value and wildlife preservation. Songbirds, bees, and butterflies love it!

  • Height: 6-12 inches
  • Range: Native to North America
  • Climate: Zones 5-9
  • Functions: Quick ground coverage. Pollinator or native gardens.
  • Light requirements: Full, partial, or no shade.
  • Soil preferences: Moist or dry soil with good drainage.

Also known as ‘golden star’ you’ll find it available here.

Snowdrop anemone (Anemone sylvestris)

Snowdrop Anemone / daryl_mitchell / CC BY-SA 2.0

Lush carpeting dark-green foliage makes a perfect ground cover with early bright white blooms.

  • Height: 12-24 inches.
  • Range: Asia and Europe.
  • Climate: Zone 3-8
  • Functions: Easy to grow ground cover. Attractive and ornamental.
  • Light requirements: Full shade to partial shade.
  • Soil preferences: Well-drained soils

Seeds or plants are available here.

Bigroot Geranium (Geranium macrorrhizum)

Photo by: Rob Hodgkins, Geranium Macrorrhizum 2

Big geranium is a great ornamental companion among other ground covers. It offers dappled spring and sometimes summer flowers. It isn’t considered invasive but adds an extra element of interest with large but classic geranium foliage.

Most geraniums are full sun lovers but this variety grows well in deep shade or partial shade. Bigroot geranium grows fast, overtakes weeds, and forms a dense ground cover. Once established it persists beyond dry summers.

  • Height: 3 feet
  • Range: Europe
  • Climate: Zones 4-8
  • Functions: Ornamental flowers from June to August. Used as a scent confuser for pest prevention. The strong fragrance is used to make oils and potpourri. Deer resistance.
  • Light requirements: Full/deep shade to partial shade.
  • Soil preferences: Moist soil dry soil and drought tolerant.

When shopping for seeds or plants be sure you’re selecting the correct geranium that has shade tolerance.

Rose Of Sharon (Hypericum calycinum)

Hypericum calycinum / Taken by: It’s No Game / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

If you’re looking for a showy and low-growing ornamental you’ll love the Rose of Sharon (Hypericum calycinum). Rose of Sharon is a shade lover and grows relatively fast even in shade.

It’s bright yellow blooms pop against lush green foliage.

  • Height: 12-18 inches
  • Range: Asia
  • Climate: Zones 5-10
  • Functions: Used as an ornamental semi-evergreen ground cover. Prevents erosion, is gorgeous when cascading, and attracts butterflies.
  • Light requirements: Deep, full, semi, or no shade.
  • Soil preferences: Moist or dry soil and drought tolerant. Suitable for heavy clay.

Consider an alternative if invasive in your area, please check before committing.

Nature Hill’s Nursery offers two types of Rose of Sharon (and calls them St. Johns Wort). If you prefer to grow from seed, plenty of options with free shipping are available here.

Winter Jasmin (Jasminum nudiflorum)

Winter Jasmine / By: Amanda Slater / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Flowers bloom during warmer spells of winter from December to March—even in North-facing shade! If you need an early bloomer to fill in flowering gaps, this is the one.

Winter jasmin grows with a wide spread of up to 10 feet more which makes it a great ground cover candidate, although it isn’t low-growing. A perfect choice for filling a large or perhaps a crazy-terrain type of space.

  • Height: Up to 4 feet
  • Range: Asia
  • Climate: Zones 6-11
  • Functions: Scented ornamental for erosion control or flowers. Used to cascade, climb, or fountain in various garden settings.
  • Light requirements: Deep, full, semi, or no shade.
  • Soil preferences: Moist soil with good drainage. Suitable for heavy clay.

Both seeds and plant starts are available on Etsy from various sellers with white or yellow flowers. Nature Hills Nursery also offers three varieties in containers here.

Wild blue phlox (Phlox divaricata)

Phlox divaricata / Wild blue phlox at bbgardens / Ralph Daily / CC BY 2.0

This variety of phlox thrives and flowers in both full and partial shade. It’s native and often included in food forests as a ground cover to attract wildlife and important pollinators. The foliage is considered evergreen, but I would call it semi-evergreen as it is not green during the snowy winter months!

Wild phlox is littered with flowers for a whole month between spring and summer.

  • Height: 6-12 inches
  • Range: North America
  • Climate: Zones 4-9
  • Functions: Best planted when needing a pollinator magnet and gorgeous ornamental ground cover.
  • Light requirements: Full/deep shade to partial shade or full sun.
  • Soil preferences: Moist soil and drought tolerant.

Etsy offers wild blue phlox seeds here and grown plants are offered here.

Creeping phlox (Phlox stolonifera)

Creeping Phlox / Patrick Standish / CC BY 2.0

Creeping phlox is functionally similar to wild blue phlox, but is a lower-growing version. This phlox tends to spread easier and cover more ground in less time. This is a better choice for larger spaces in need of dense ground coverage.

The flowers bloom in dense clusters and come in endless colors.

  • Height: 3-8 inches
  • Range: North America
  • Climate: Zones 4-9
  • Functions: Best planted when needing a pollinator magnet and gorgeous ornamental ground cover.
  • Light requirements: Full/deep shade to partial shade or full sun.
  • Soil preferences: Moist soil and drought tolerant.

Etsy offers creeping phlox seeds here and transplants are offered here.

Up Next: Best Bee-Friendly Flowering Plants For Clay Soil Improvement


While Rachelle's hands are clean for the keyboard, she enjoys writing and designing creative content and resources. You will most likely find her outside planting a cabbage, foraging berries for breakfast, and collecting herbs for year-round tea or making food.

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