Creeping Ground Cover Plants UK | Flowering Ground Cover | 2020

Creeping ground cover, the organic gardener’s weed suppressing silver bullet. But what exactly is a creeping ground cover plant? 

Well, creeping plants are essentially exactly what they sound like – Plants which slowly creep and spread their way across open spaces, underneath larger trees & shrubs, draping themselves over the ground level and strangling anything unfortunate enough to be trapped beneath.

So with that in mind, it’s clear to see why creeping ground cover plants would be especially useful when tackling those pesky weeds, particularly perennials or weeds tucked into tight spaces.

And what’s more, many of these plants (and all of those included in our list) make for beautiful ornamentals in their own right, bringing swathes of colour up the borders of paths, over the tops of garden walls or towards the front of established borders. 

These swathes of colour can bring a real cottage garden vibe to your outdoor space, while also serving as valuable forage for local pollinators and habitat for a whole variety of wildlife. 

So, in summation, creeping ground cover can provide; Beauty, Forage, Habitat & Utility. Not bad for a family of vertically challenged plants. 

Anyhoo, without further ado let’s get into our picks for the top creeping ground cover plants, with a few notable exceptions included towards the end of our list which are also well worth a peruse. 

1. Aubrieta (Aubrieta Deltoidia) 

Creeping Ground Cover Aubrieta (Aubrieta Deltoidia)

This perennial creeping ground cover produces a sea of vibrant colour throughout spring, it’s dainty flowers lighting up any path, boundary or wall lucky enough to be draped in them. 

They come in a whole range of colours, from the deepest purples through vibrant pinks to the purest of pure white, and are exceptionally easy to take care of once established.  

Once established, Aubrieta will form a thick blanket of foliage and suppress any weeds unfortunate enough to find themselves underneath. 

A cracking choice of creeping ground cover for any garden looking for a splash of colour.

Quick Care Guide: 

Size: 10x50cm

Soil Type: Fertile / Well-Drained

Lifespan: Short-Medium

Pruning: Cut back ~50% after flowering.

Flowering: April – May

Orientation: Full Sun / Partial Shade

Propagation: Seed / Cuttings / Division

Attracts Pollinators: Yes

2. Rockplant (Sedum)

Creeping Ground Cover Rockplant (Sedum)

A huge family of plants within the larger Succulent family, Sedums provide over 400 different varieties – many of which making for great creeping perennial ground cover. 

Once established Sedum plants are hardy, drought-tolerant and very low maintenance, with a wide selection of shapes, sizes and colours to choose from. 

Commonly known as Rockplant, Sedum have long been used among rockeries, spreading a sea of colour and texture through their thick creeping habit. You’ll also commonly find them on green or living roofs, due to their hardy yet attractive nature. 

A colourful mat of perennial creeping ground cover which requires very little maintenance and flowers throughout the summer? What’s not to love.

Quick Care Guide: 

Size: Highly Variable 

Soil Type: Semi-Fertile / Well-Drained

Lifespan: Medium

Pruning: Early Spring

Flowering: Summer

Orientation: Full Sun / Partial Shade

Propagation: Cuttings

3. Hosta (Fortunei)

Creeping Ground Cover Hosta (Fortunei)

Hostas are beautiful plants, and possibly the best ornamental, shade-loving creeping ground cover that we can think of. 

There are many varieties to choose from, spanning different shapes, sizes and colours. One thing common across all Hostas however is their laidback attitude to life. 

Once established a Hosta plant will require little to no maintenance, depending on how fussy you are about growing habit. 

It’ll also live for up to (sometimes even more than) 30 years with little requirement for human intervention, making them a wonderful choice for the less time-rich gardeners amongst us. 

This perennial creeping ground cover generally prefers shadier areas of the garden, however there are varieties out there which will thrive in partial or even full sun with a little TLC. 

Possibly our favourite shade-loving perennial ground cover and a must have addition to any unloved shady areas of the garden. 

Quick Care Guide: 

Size: Average Mature Hosta ~ 2x5ft (Highly Variable)

Soil Type: Fertile / Water-Retentive

Lifespan: Long

Pruning: Prune in Autumn.

Flowering: July / August

Orientation: Shade / Partial Sun

Propagation: Seed / Cutting / Division

4. Creeping Thyme (Thymus Serpyllum)

Creeping Ground Cover Creeping Thyme (Thymus Serpyllum)

One of the most effective creeping ground cover options when it comes to suppressing weeds, Creeping Thyme quickly forms a dense evergreen mat, filling those unwanted spaces with a beautiful carpet of aromatic purple ground cover. 

When in bloom, Creeping Thyme’s profusion of flowers is so heavy that it can be hard to pick out the bed of evergreen leaves lying just below. These flowers carry with them a lovely scent, attracting pollinators to the nectar-rich blossoms. 

But Creeping Thyme is not only useful to your local pollinator population – Its leaves have long been harvested for use in teas, herbal remedies and culinary applications. 

So, if you’re looking for an easy-going creeping ground cover which is useful, beautiful and good for your local wildlife – Creeping Thyme should be high up your list.

Quick Care Guide: 

Size: ~20cm

Soil Type: Well-Drained

Lifespan: Medium

Pruning: Cut back in Early Spring

Flowering: May – September

Orientation: Full Sun / Partial Shade

Propagation: Seed / Cuttings

5. Baby’s Breath (Gypsophila Paniculata)

Creeping Ground Cover Babys Breath (Gypsophila Paniculata)

A colourful, easy-going creeping ground cover, Gypsophila’s dainty pastel-coloured flowers are enough to brighten the gloomiest of British ‘Summer’ days. 

Its creeping nature and long-lifespan make Gypsophila a great low-maintenance gap filler along borders, rockeries – just about any awkward little space really. 

It’s dense enough to help suppress any stubborn weeds, while still retaining a more delicate overall feel than alternatives such as Heather or Sedum. 

And what’s more – Gypsophila blooms are a staple within the floristry industry, and as you can imagine make for great cut-flower additions to the home. 

Quick Care Guide: 

Size: Up to 20x40cm

Soil Type: Fertile / Well-Drained

Lifespan: Short – Medium

Pruning: Cut back immediately after flowering

Flowering: June – September

Orientation: Full Sun

Propagation: Seed / Cuttings

6. Geranium Renardii (Pelargonium)

Creeping Ground Cover Geranium Renardii (Pelargonium)

One of the perennial members of the Geranium family, this creeping ground cover has a lot to offer as a weed-suppressing yet highly ornamental addition to the garden. 

It’s dense canopy of greyish green leaves drown out weeds unfortunate enough to be trapped beneath, while it’s beautiful lobed flowers provide an ample source of nectar for local pollinators and a touch of beauty for us human passers-by. 

Perfect for bringing a touch of the cottage garden to the sides of paths, fronts of borders or wild corners. 

Quick Care Guide: 

Size: ~30x30cm

Soil Type: Poor / Well-Drained

Lifespan: Short – Medium

Pruning: Cut back after flowering.

Flowering: May-June

Orientation: Full Sun / Partial Shade

Propagation: Division / Cuttings

7. Phlox (Phlox Paniculata)

Creeping Ground Cover Phlox (Phlox Paniculata)

Among the most widely used creeping ground cover, Phlox quickly develops into billowing mounds of summer colour. It’s quick growth and dense canopy is especially efficient when it comes to suppressing those troublesome weeds, while the resulting eruption of bloom is a real delight to see.

Their diminutive stature makes them ideal for smaller gardens, with Phlox often used as a belt of colour tracing the front of larger border collections. They also work great in pots & containers, and come in a huge range of colours. 

One of our favourite and most effective forms of creeping ground cover, perfect for smothering those pesky perennial weeds.

Quick Care Guide: 

Size: ~15x60cm

Soil Type: Fertile / Well-drained

Lifespan: Short – Medium

Pruning: Cut back after flowering

Flowering: July – September

Orientation: Full Sun / Partial Shade

Propagation: Seed / Cuttings

8. Heather (Caluna)

Creeping Ground Cover Heather (Caluna)

Anyone who’s seen a field of Heather in the wild will know what effective creeping ground cover they make. They’re easy-going and quick to establish themselves, creating an extremely dense mat of vibrant foliage in no time at all – Perfect for suppressing weeds.

They are evergreen, highly attractive to local pollinators and come in a vibrant range of colours. When it comes to creeping ground cover plants – It’s hard to beat the Humble Heather.

Quick Care Guide: 

Size: Up to 30x60cm

Soil Type: Fertile / Well-Drained 

Lifespan: Long

Pruning: Lightly after last frost

Flowering: All year (Depending on Variety)

Orientation: Full Sun / Partial Shade

Propagation: Cuttings

9. Bellflower (Campanula)

Creeping Ground Cover Bellflower (Campanula)

A huge genus covering more than 300 varieties, low growing Campanula make for exceptionally beautiful creeping ground cover, while also being an effective weed suppressor. 

Known commonly as Bellflower, creeping Campanula plants are hardy, requiring little TLC in order to establish themselves. Once settled in, Campanula will happily spread into those leftover pockets of space, suppressing weeds with their profuse bloom of deep violet flowers. 

An absolutely stunning plant and particularly effective form of creeping ground cover, Campanula should be high up your list of candidates when looking to brighten up those hard to fill outdoor spaces. 

Quick Care Guide: 

Size: 25x45cm

Soil Type: Fertile / Well-Draining

Lifespan: Medium

Pruning: Cut back in Winter / Spring

Flowering: July – August

Orientation: Full Sun / Partial Shade

Propagation: Seed / Cuttings / Division

10. Yellow Alyssum (Aurinia saxatilis)

Creeping Ground Cover Yellow Alyssum (aurinia saxatilis)

An easy-going hardy perennial which serves as a terrific creeping ground cover, Yellow Alyssum’s golden foliage is a real treat to witness in full bloom. 

They are drought-tolerant, happy to grow in the poorest of soils and create a thick canopy capable of suppressing any troublesome weeds caught in its path. 

The profuse blooms created by Yellow Alyssum are attractive to local pollinators, providing a rich source of forage, while it’s ability to happily re-seed leads to speedy establishment across large areas. 

All in all Yellow Alyssum makes for a great ornamental creeping ground cover, bringing a touch of sunshine to the gloomiest of days. 

Quick Care Guide: 

Size: ~20cm

Soil Type: Poor / Well-Drained

Lifespan: Long

Pruning: Cut back after flowering.

Flowering: May – July

Orientation: Full Sun / Partial Shade

Propagation: Cuttings / Division

Honorable Mentions

  1. Himalayan Juniper (Juniperus Squamata) 
  2. Bugleweed (Ajuga) 
  3. Rose Of Sharon (Hibiscus Syriacus)
  4. Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia)
  5. Periwinkle (Vinca Minor)
  6. Iceplant (Delosperma cooperi)
  7. Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum)
  8. Pachysandra (Pachysandra terminalis)
  9. Snow-in-summer (Cerastium tomentosum)

Wrapping Things Up

And there we have it – Our favourite creeping ground cover plants for; Beauty, Forage, Habitat & Utility. Here’s hoping there are at least a couple there for you. 

As always I hope this guide has been useful. If you’d like to be kept in the loop of whatever comes next from us here at the EcoGeeks then please feel free to subscribe below.

Have a great day.