11 Summer-Blooming Ground Cover Plants for Landscaping

Published June 9, 2022
A patch of bright purple penstamon wildflower blooms on the rocky ground along Crater Lake in Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

The term ground cover is used to describe low-growing plants that spread over an area of ground. Gardeners often use ground cover plants as a lower-maintenance substitute for grass, to suppress weeds, or as a border for garden beds. Get to know 11 low-growing perennials that produce flowers in the summer, then decide which summer blooming ground cover plants you want to use to enhance your landscape.

Bellflower Blue Clips

Campanula carpatica blue clips tussock bellflower

Bellflower blue clips (Campanula carpatica) is a low-growing perennial that shows off beautiful blue blooms all summer. It will put on an impressive show whether it's planted in full sun or part shade. This plant grows to between eight inches and one foot tall and spreads to form mounds that can reach up to 18 inches in diameter. These characteristics make bellflower blue clips an ideal summer ground cover plant. It is hardy in USDA Zones 3-9.

Birdsfoot Trefoil

Lotus Corniculatus

Birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) is a perennial clover-like plant that makes an excellent ground cover. It can grow from one to two feet tall, but its stems either lie on the ground or lean over part of the way. It forms dense mats that crowd out other vegetation. During the summer, birdsfoot trefoil produces beautiful yellow flowers that resemble pea blossoms. It can grow in full sun or part shade. It is hardy in USDA Zones 1-8.

Creeping Thyme

Wild thyme - Thymus praecox

Creeping thyme (Thymus praecox), also referred to as mother of thyme, is a low-growing woody perennial with a creeping habit (hence the name). This plant produces tiny but beautiful purple flowers during the summer. Creeping thyme does best in full sun, but also produces lovely blooms when planted in part shade. It can range from two to six inches tall, though it generally stops at about three inches. Each creeping thyme plant can spread up to a foot in diameter. It is hardy in USDA Zones 5-8.

Cranesbill

summer flowering purple Hardy geranium, cranesbill (Geranium) flowers

Cranesbill (Geranium), also referred to as hardy geranium, is a tough, drought-resistant perennial ground cover that thrives in part shade. There are pink, white, and purple varieties that bloom all summer. With a bit of mid-summer pruning, cranesbill can continue blooming well into fall. This plant can grow from one foot to 20 inches tall and has a spread of up to two feet. It is hardy in USDA Zones 5-7. Please note: This is not the annual geranium sold in garden centers as a bedding plant.

Candytuft

Candytuft flowers in the garden (Iberis flowers)

Candytuft (Iberis sempervirens) is a low-growing perennial ground cover that starts producing clusters of gorgeous white flowers in the spring and continues through mid-summer. Candytuft reaches a height of six to eight inches and has an impressive spread that can range from one to three feet. This plant does best in full sun, but it can handle some shade. It is hardy in USDA Zones 5-9.

Hardy Ice Plant

Delosperma cooperi flowers (Pink carpet)

Despite its chilly sounding name, Hardy ice plant (Delosperma cooperi) blooms in the summer. This perennial ground cover needs full sun. Hardy ice plant is drought tolerant and thrives during the hottest months of the year, which is when it profusely produces gorgeous violet blooms. It ranges from six inches to one foot tall and can spread up to a foot wide. It requires little care and will even grow in poor, rocky soil. It is hardy in USDA Zones 5-11.

Lithodora

Purple gromwell, Lithodora diffusa, flowers

Lithodora (Lithodora diffusa) is a low-growing perennial that typically grows to four or five inches tall with a roughly equivalent spread. This great ground cover plant produces bright blue flowers from late spring to mid-to-late summer, with blooming slowing late in the summer as the temperature rises. It will grow in full sun or partial shade and is particularly well-suited for rock gardens. Lithodora is hardy in USDA Zones 6-8.

Moss Verbena

Moss Verbena (Glandularia tenuisecta)

Moss verbena (Verbena tenuisecta) is a low-growing perennial perfect for very warm regions (as its hardy only in USDA Zones 9-11). It generally reaches between one foot and 18 inches tall and can have a spread of up to five feet. It is evergreen (where it's hardy) and begins producing clusters of tiny purple flowers in spring that continue blooming through the entire summer. This drought-tolerant plant requires full sun.

Plumbago

Ceratostigma plumbaginoides

Plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides), also known as leadwort, is a versatile perennial ground cover because it will thrive almost anywhere. This compact spreading plant will grow in full sun, full shade, or partial shade. It grows from six to eight inches tall and can have a spread of up to 18 inches. It produces a plethora of bright blue flowers in the summer and again in the fall. It is hardy in USDA Zones 5-9.

Purple Poppy Mallow

Purple Poppy Mallow flower - Callirhoe Involucrata

Purple poppy mallow (Callirhoe involucrata), often referred to as winecups, is a lovely ground cover for any full sun area. This plant generally reaches a foot in height with a spread of more than three feet. It erupts in gorgeous purply-pink flowers in early summer and continues to put on a show until fall arrives. It is hardy in USDA Zones 3-8.

Spotted Deadnettle

Pink flowers of spotted dead-nettle Lamium maculatum

Spotted deadnettle (Lamium maculatum) is a low-growing perennial in the mint family that has leafy green foliage and produces striking purple blooms from late spring through early summer. This plant grows best in part shade. It reaches six to nine inches in height. It spreads quickly and can become mounded as it grows. Bees find its blooms to be particularly appealing. Spotted deadnettle is hardy in USDA Zones 3-8 and remains evergreen in areas with fairly mild climates.

Beautify Your Yard With Summer Ground Cover Blooms

Aren't you excited to know that blooming ground cover plants aren't limited to spring? Now that you're aware of these summer blooming ground cover options, you can take your landscape to the next level. As soon as you decide which one - or ones! - to use, you'll be able to get to work boosting the beauty of your summer garden.

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11 Summer-Blooming Ground Cover Plants for Landscaping