Groundcovers from Seed
by Diane Linsley
Annual and perennial groundcovers are welcome in every garden, especially in new gardens where the shrubs and perennials are still small. Groundcovers help to suppress weeds, while providing flowers and foliage to beautify the garden. Annual groundcover seeds can be direct sown in the garden on bare soil. My favorites are self-sowing annuals, which come back year after year. They are perfect for filling in the gaps between larger plants.
Perennial groundcovers are more permanent. They are slower growing, and some perennial seeds are best started indoors. The perennial groundcovers that have evergreen foliage are especially welcome in the winter garden. Here's a list of the best groundcovers from seed.
Annual Groundcover Seeds
Alyssum -- Masses of tiny white or purple flowers. Makes a great groundcover or filler in the garden. Reliable, self-sowing annual. Easy to grow from seed. California Poppy -- Native wildflower with satiny petals in a wide range of colors. Drought tolerant and deer resistant. Clarkia amoena -- Native wildflower. Pink, red and white flowers in early summer. Self sows. Easy to grow from seed. Diascia 'Pink Queen' -- Soft, rose-pink flowers all summer long. Annual in cool regions. Tender perennial in zones 9-11. Moonflower -- Huge, 6" wide, pure white flowers on a 10' long vine. Makes a great groundcover in zones 8-11, where it is a tender perennial. Grow as an annual in colder zones. Morning Glory -- Comes in many different colors. The tall vines can be trained to climb on trellises or grown as a groundcover. Nigella damascena -- Blue, pink or white flowers in early summer. Tall for a groundcover, but very useful around large perennials and shrubs. Easy to grow from seed. Self-sows prolifically. Petunia violacea -- Trailing plants with fragrant, trumpet-shaped flowers. Heat tolerant. Self sows in the south. Easy to grow from seed.
Perennial Groundcover Seeds
Allium cernuum -- Self-sowing bulb that eventually forms a dense patch. The lavender-pink flowers bloom in mid summer. Alyssum saxatile (Basket of Gold) -- Masses of golden-yellow flowers in spring. Short, shrubby perennial. Self-sows in moderation. Easy to grow from seed. Aubrieta (Rock Cress) -- Spreading mounds of violet-purple, lavender-blue or rosy red flowers in spring. Easy to grow from seed. Creeping Thyme -- Evergreen groundcover with tiny, purplish-pink flowers. Perfect for planting between paving stones or rocks. Drought-tolerant perennial. Iberis gibraltarica -- Trailing, evergreen perennial with pale, lavender-pink flowers in late spring. Self sows in moderation. Myosotis sylvatica (Forget-Me-Not) -- Reseeding biennial with sky-blue flowers in spring. Wonderful companion plant for daffodils and tulips. Excellent groundcover for part shade. Loves to grow underneath shrubs. Oenothera missouriensis (Missouri Evening Primrose) -- Native wildflower with large, lemon-yellow flowers on trailing plants. Drought tolerant perennial. Ruellia humilis (Wild Petunia) -- Native perennial with lavender-blue, trumpet-shaped flowers. Blooms all summer into fall. Drought tolerant. Saponaria ocymoides (Rock Soapwort) -- Low-growing, semi-evergreen plants smothered in bright pink flowers in May and June. Viola tricolor 'Helen Mount' -- Short-lived perennial that reseeds prolifically. Purple, lavender and yellow flowers for many months. Shade tolerant. Easy to grow from seed.