Wild Ginger Asarum canadense
USDA Zone 2a-7b
Wild Ginger is a low growing perennial with large heart shaped leaves. It only grows to about 4” tall, but will get dense and make a spectacular statement in a shaded landscape. An undisturbed location is ideal because some people are sensitive to the plant, which can cause skin irritation.
Wild Ginger blooms between April and June, with red, green, purple or brown flowers. Some of the flowers are under the leaves and can be inconspicuous. One special feature is that Wild Ginger is a favorite food of the Pipeline Swallowtail butterfly larvae. The fleshy roots are colony forming and will beautifully fill any shady space with a gingery fragrance.
Foam Flower Tiarella cordifolia
Foam flower is a beautiful groundcover, perfect for lawn replacement under trees. The clouds of delicate plumes rise about 6”-12” in a profusion of frilly white from April through July. Foam flower, or tiarella, as it is also called, will form dense colonies when mature because the plant grows from underground stems.
Foam flowers prefer shady sites, but will tolerate half day sun in cooler climates. A perennial herb, foam flower grows about 1’ – 3’ high and does not mind acid soils. As a native plant, once established foam flower should require little water if it is in the shade.
Allegheny Spurge Pachysandra procumbens
USDA Zone 4a-9b
Allegheny spurge is a superior native alternative to Japanese pachysandra (Pachysandra terminalis). It is a low-growing, non-invasive perennial that deserves far more attention than it receives in the American landscape. It spreads by rhizomes to fill any space with beautiful toothed evergreen leaves. The leaves are mottled with silver and purple, turning bronze in the winter. Every spring, the old growth dies off as new foliage matures, making it tidy in habit.
Spring brings fragrant white flowers on 2”- 4” stems, which often appear before the foliage. Allegheny spurge requires moderate water use and does best in part shade to shady locations. With showy flowers, beautiful foliage and semi-evergreen habit, Allegheny spurge makes an excellent choice for groundcover in shade in the temperate climates.