In a recent post I described a collection of fifteen plants suitable for use as ground cover so this list includes similar low growing plants except that they are all natives. There are several reasons why native plants are a better alternative. Native plants are both more resistant to diseases and provide better support for wildlife. In addition they are more attractive than English ivy and Periwinkle the two plants commonly used as ground cover. The twelve native ground cover plants are described by Curtis Adams in his article which I found on the Houzz website.
You often see the same ground covers in use in many residential and commercial landscapes across the country. For partly to mostly shady sites, English ivy (Hedera helix), Japanese pachysandra (Pachysandra terminalis) and periwinkle (Vinca minor) are very popular plants. They cover the ground densely, keeping any other plants from gaining a foothold. This is their function ? to provide an uninterrupted sea of green that performs reliably and requires little maintenance. And that is about all you get from these introduced species.
There are a number of drawbacks to these green ?carpets.? The first is low biodiversity. These single-species blankets provide no variety needed for a well-functioning ecosystem. Because they are usually cloned species, there is no genetic diversity either. This makes them less resilient when attacked by a pathogen or environmental change. As introduced species, these ground covers are not as supportive of the local wildlife as are regionally native species. While they do provide cover for many animals, they are not as good at providing food for insects and birds.A third aspect is their visual character. Many of these introduced ground cover species create the same look no matter where they are used. A bed of English ivy looks pretty much the same in Southern California as it does in New England. If the goal is to create a look of another place, well enough. But if you want to create a connection with nature, using regionally native species will do that.Finally, with aggressive ground-covering plants, there is a risk of escape into unmanaged areas. Concrete edging, wide paths and well-managed beds can keep these aggressive plants in check. In many instances, these introduced species will also grow under a fence or creep onto a neighboring property where their spread can go unchecked.The following plants, primarily native to the eastern parts of North America, are well-suited for use as ground covers in partly to mostly shady locations. When combining plants, it is important to consider how aggressive each one is. Plants that do not handle competition well will be overwhelmed in a season or two by their more aggressive neighbors.
In general, the foliage on these plants grows to only a foot or so tall and rarely exceeds 3 feet, so they don?t block the view through the landscape. About half of these could be considered evergreen, based on their performance in USDA Zone 6 gardens. Some won?t hold their foliage through the winter in colder climates.Canadian Wild Ginger
Native from the eastern counties of North Dakota and Oklahoma east to Maine in the north and Georgia in the southThis native perennial can be found growing in rich woodland soils, where it will slowly spread to form a low blanket of glossy green leaves. It can crowd out some less aggressive species. It leafs out in early spring and remains effective through fall, reaching 3 to 6 inches tall.