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Favorite companions plants / perennials/ground covers/living mulch

modestgoddess z7 MD
April 9, 2018

I currently have mulch around my roses but I'd like to get out of the mulch business and use perennials as a living mulch around my roses. I'm in zone 7 Maryland which has hot/humid summers and snow/rain winters. My soil is heavy clay. Any recommendations or share what has worked for you in your climate.

Comments (53)

  • strawchicago

    Snapdragon also work well in bouquet .. this is a late October bouquet with snapdragon, Evelyn, and Mary Magadlene roses. Snapdragon bloom until the snow hits.

    Another bouquet with yellow snapdragon and W.S. 2000 rose.

    modestgoddess z7 MD thanked strawchicago
  • modestgoddess z7 MD

    I'd hesitated to buy snap dragons because they were annuals but if they self seed then I might consider them.

  • modestgoddess z7 MD

    some things I have tried so far:

    Curbside - where there is a tree on half of it and the neighbors walk on weedy other half:

    Liriope - survived but they don't spread on their own

    Mazus reptans - died once it got hot

    Creeping Thyme - trying it this year cause it is cheap and supposedly drought tolerant


    Front yard - half is slopped, south facing, filtered sunlight but shade plants die, mostly weed free

    Mazus reptans - ok on flat area

    Geranium Havana Blue - died on slope, ok on flat area

    Geranium Rozanne - good on flat area

    Geranium Biokovo - good on flat area

    Various Sedums - great on slope, Lime Zinger is my favorite

    Veronica Georgia Blue - great on flat area, ok on slope

    Veronica Blue Reflection - died on slope

    Creeping phlox - planted 2016, good but not spreading as fast as I hoped, probably because I mulched around it


    Back yard - raised bed that runs the length of my drive way and is 7ft deep, aggressive weeds coming from neighbor's yard, north facing, super hot and full sun in summer but half shade in winter

    Sedum lime zinger - planted last year, was great in the summer but not sure if it survived the wet winter in my clay

    Mazus repatans - survived but not very heat tolerant

    Veronicas - great in the heat

    Campanula birch hybrid - good

    Perennial Geraniums - good

    Pulmonario Dark Vader - barely survived the heat


  • strawchicago

    Walker's low catmint (1' tall x 1.5' wide) is another one that spread like a ground-cover. My neighbor didn't want to mow the lawn where side-walk trees are, so she drenched the entire area (the size of a school-bus) with Round-up, then planted walker's low catmint. They spread rapidly.

    Regular catmint is too tall & aggressive. I once bought a plant for $7 then had to spend time killing it. Walker's low catmint root are shallow and won't hurt roses like the regular catmint (3' x 3').

    Blue salvia is my favorite since it's not invasive like catmint. Blue salvia blooms all year round. Catmint blooms only in the spring, and looks weedy for the rest of the season.

    modestgoddess z7 MD thanked strawchicago
  • totoro z7b Md

    Great thread and photos Straw.

    I am trying Chocolate chip Ajuga. It does spread and I have divided it in 1 season. Also evergreen.

    I also like artimisia silver mound. I tried sea foam but they were not as vigorous and I don't know if it survived winter.

    Agree with Modest on Veronica Georgia Blue. I also think Veronica waterperry is more vigorous.

    Have bought many varieties of creeping thymes but they don't seem to spread quickly enough.

    I had hopes for epimedium because of it's early blooms and supposed tolerance of shade and dryness, but not spreading quickly enough for me and I don't think it smothers weeds.

    Creeping Jenny is dense but also kind of invasive.

    For areas away from roses, how about a low mounding juniper such as greenmound?

    modestgoddess z7 MD thanked totoro z7b Md
  • modestgoddess z7 MD

    I saw some pretty Ajuga at Lowes recently but I wasn't sure if it could handle our summers.

    Did you find Veronica Waterperry locally or did you order it online?

  • modestgoddess z7 MD

    I found Veronica Waterperry Blue at a local nursery today! I’m so excited, I bought 5.

  • totoro z7b Md

    Modest where did you get it?

    Here is mine today just bloomed. I only have one at the foot of Heritage but want more.

    Here is Golden Hinoki beneath Awakening on trellis

    Here is Boxwood fastigiata on the other side of Awakening.

    Here is Boxwood Dee runk right of Heritage and left of Eden

    Boxwood Justin Brouwers and 2 Morris dwarfs anchoring the rose bed. I was going to prune them into balls but I am afraid of messing up so they are au natural for now

    here is epimedium not keeping up with creeping Jenny

    here is juniper green mound creeping into rose bed


  • modestgoddess z7 MD

    Green Fields Nursery on the corner of Falls road & Northern parkway

    http://greenfieldsnursery.com/contact-us/

    5424 Falls Road
    Baltimore, MD 21210


    $6.98/quart





  • modestgoddess z7 MD
    Front yard today with creeping phlox (pink & purple) and Veronica Georgia blue blooming

  • totoro z7b Md

    Oh that is not far from me. Thanks! Your bed looks gorgeous.

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  • totoro z7b Md

    Also my ajuga is planted in deep shade which is hard for other ground covers. It is doing very well.

    modestgoddess z7 MD thanked totoro z7b Md
  • raee_gw zone 5b-6a Ohio

    I've had very good results with waterperry veronica and also campanula (if I'm remembering correctly). They do only bloom in spring but the plant doesn't get ratty looking later the way creeping jenny does (and also they haven't popped up elsewhere as creeping jenny does). Other perennials like bulbs also seem to have no problem growing up through those two.

    modestgoddess z7 MD thanked raee_gw zone 5b-6a Ohio
  • vaporvac

    Totoro and Modest, how pretty everything looks in your yard! Idon't know if it's because it's always raining these days, but mine just looks so dismal. : (( You guys have yards like experts! Of course, Straw's is dreamy as well.

    I've had great luck with ajuga for deep shade. I really loved this plant, but it was no match for euonymus. : ( I've always wanted to try epimedium; it's notoriously fussy to establish, but apparently once it decides it like it, it spreads well. Such a pretty leaf. I'll have to ask DH the name of a neighbor's ground cover. I loved it, but worry it might be to spready in my crazy yard where everything goes wild, but those I actually have planted. :((

    modestgoddess z7 MD thanked vaporvac
  • modestgoddess z7 MD

    Ajuga chocolate chip looks great but I don't have much shade on my property. Everyone tried to tell me my south facing front yard was shade because there is a tree at the curb but all the shade plants died. I have a Purple Gem Rhododendron planted in 2016 that has never had a full spring bloom. This is its last spring before I evict it to plant another rose.

  • vaporvac

    You can send it my way, modest! ; ) I love rhodies, but don't have a one. Maybe they'll have some cheap at Lowe's this year along with some azalea. I need some other plantings for my "back forty" against the north facing wall. I'm planting Hybrid Musks from the mid-point forward as it's not shaded there. I've also found many plants listed as sun/part-shade, but when comparing two plantings those in the shade have flourished. I discovered this with browalia.

    modestgoddess z7 MD thanked vaporvac
  • modestgoddess z7 MD

    Part shade plants do ok for me in the spring but as soon as the summer starts they struggle.

  • totoro z7b Md

    Epimedium cupreum blooming now

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  • vaporvac

    Wow, tototo! I've never seen an epimedium bloom, My Cucularia are starting to bloom now so that's exciting! The ferns are just now unfurling. Everything is so late.

    modestgoddess z7 MD thanked vaporvac
  • zippity1

    lemon thyme mad a beautiful large but not tall mat under my roses i loved it and it took no care then the garden guys came to help eradicate the bermuda and the thyme went away also..... but it was great for 3 years....

    modestgoddess z7 MD thanked zippity1
  • totoro z7b Md

    Epimedium are blooming!

    Bandit - tiny leaves that I think could actually block weeds

    Neosulphureum


  • totoro z7b Md

    How about Columbine for ground cover? Her it is next to Veronica Georgia Blue at foot of Heritage ( sorry I misspoke in earlier post )

    modestgoddess z7 MD thanked totoro z7b Md
  • modestgoddess z7 MD

    I saw some really pretty purple Columbines at Lowes.

  • modestgoddess z7 MD

    I found Ajuga Chocolate chip locally and planted one just to see how it does.

  • totoro z7b Md

    I am starting to really enjoy Columbine. I got mine from Walmart but will check out Lowe's.

    Modest, good luck with ajuga

    Here is my veronica Waterperry Blue today with first blooms.

    Argh I can't believe that the creeping Jenny is popping up here now.

    modestgoddess z7 MD thanked totoro z7b Md
  • totoro z7b Md

    Here is my ajuga chocolate chip planted beneath Mystic Beauty. I forgot that ajuga blooms too.

    Clematis Saphire Indigo scrambling through as well.

    modestgoddess z7 MD thanked totoro z7b Md
  • vaporvac

    totoro, thanks for the suggestion of columbine as a ground cover. It's one thing that seems to like my soil and self seeds. I used to have tons of it at the feet of my polyanthas, but since redoing the bed, nary a one. I'm going to take seed from a few I let grow in the joins of my concrete paths where they're impossible to dig up.

    Others that did/do well were/are Lady's Mantle, Stachys, Sweet William and Monarda. I also let Lunaria (Money plant) do its thing until it goes to seed at which point I cut it back.

    modestgoddess z7 MD thanked vaporvac
  • totoro z7b Md

    Chapagne Elegance iris

    Heritage with Columbine

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  • totoro z7b Md

    Lily of valley is cute but I think a bit invasive

    modestgoddess z7 MD thanked totoro z7b Md
  • strawchicago

    Totoro: Gorgeous pics. of your garden. I also have Chapagne Elegance iris but colors are so faded in my alkaline-clay, that I killed it. I adore your blue & pink Columbines . Lily-of-the valley are cute, but they were invasive in my last neighborhood of acidic clay .. saw huge patches of them, so dense like a thick carpet.

    modestgoddess z7 MD thanked strawchicago
  • totoro z7b Md

    Sorry to hear about your iris. I hope I can get these to rebloom in the fall. I hear irises like less water than roses.

    Artemisia silver mound with Guy de Maupassant

    modestgoddess z7 MD thanked totoro z7b Md
  • strawchicago

    Wow! I love the above pic. Gorgeous !!

  • totoro z7b Md

    I actually like coral bells with roses too.

    I planted this one a little too close to Koko loko

    modestgoddess z7 MD thanked totoro z7b Md
  • modestgoddess z7 MD
    Geranium Rozanne with Bolero and Julia Child

    Campanula Birch hybrid

    Penstemon Mesa

    Penstemon Mesa, Chives, Soul sister

    Veronica Whitewater

  • vaporvac

    Oh, I really like the Veronica Whitewater. I have the Campanula birch and I'm very happy with it. I may have mentioned that above but I don't remember.

    modestgoddess z7 MD thanked vaporvac
  • strawchicago

    Modest: Your campanula birch is gorgeous !! I saw such at Trader's Joe for $6 (big plant & lots of flowers). I should had grabbed it, but I didn't know that it's a perennial.

    modestgoddess z7 MD thanked strawchicago
  • modestgoddess z7 MD

    Mine is from Lowe’s

  • totoro z7b Md

    Modest, great photos. I also like your Veronica Whitewater. Where did you get it?

  • modestgoddess z7 MD

    Most of the roses are resting in this heat. My Rozanne geraniums are doing great in the backyard

    I don’t think the ones in the front are getting enough sun

  • totoro z7b Md

    Thanks! Your geranium looks great. I have it too. It is a work horse.

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  • totoro z7b Md

    Here is what mirabilis (4 o clocks) look like with Mystic Beauty. Blooms are show and last until fall. Self sowing, but easy to recognize and pull out. I originally got this two years ago because it was supposed to be poisonous to Japanese beetles, but the it blooms after the JB peak. I notice that JBs have become less of a problem especially this year but I am not sure if that is more due to my vigilant picking them every morning for two years in a row.

    I also have a yellow mirabilis but it has not bloomed yet.

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  • totoro z7b Md

    Here is the Artemisia from earlier photo without a haircut. Also Veronica Ulster Dwarf, garlic chives and Bolero with a couple of blooms.

    I moved a penstemon into the center of the bed above from a more prominent location because I was tired of looking at it.

    Modest, I have been disappointed with my two varieties of penstemon ( Dark Towers and Husker Red) because the blooms are fleeting and they don't repeat. Do your penstemon repeat?

    modestgoddess z7 MD thanked totoro z7b Md
  • modestgoddess z7 MD

    Penstemon Mesa had a small repeat, 2 stalks of flowers, might have gotten more if I'd cut it back right after it stopped blooming. I think the blooms lasted all May. Going to buy another purple Penstemon next year. It was nice because it bloomed before my Geraniums.

  • totoro z7b Md

    Thanks for the tip Modest. I too am seeking that elusive all year bloom.

    Last year I was inspired to try meadow rue for a tall filler among roses. I like it with Awakening. It is that lavender tiny flower

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  • totoro z7b Md

    I also got a repeating short peach day Lily "Apricot Sparkles" that I think looks good with LEH. This is its 3rd or 4th flush.

    modestgoddess z7 MD thanked totoro z7b Md
  • modestgoddess z7 MD

    Is that creeping jenny ground cover in the last photo?

  • totoro z7b Md

    Yes it is

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  • totoro z7b Md

    Too bad the meadow rue flowers don't last long.

    I really like the garlic chives though they self sow everywhere.


    Also one drawback of mirabilis is that the flowers close in the day.

    modestgoddess z7 MD thanked totoro z7b Md
  • vaporvac

    That is true about miraculous and tradescantia also. I have implanted next to the tooth fairy cuz I'm only in that part of the garden when it's late in the day. I generally use them for shade. The great thing about that is the will bloom all day even in dense shade. They open in response to Daylight as opposed to time of day. As a result my m doesn't open till past 7 p.m. instead of four o'clock.

    modestgoddess z7 MD thanked vaporvac

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