There are lots of spaces in your landscaping ideas or plan where you can stick low growing perennials and have them look amazing. Some work wonderfully in flower beds placed in front of taller plants while others look nice used as edging planting lining driveways and sidewalks. Still, others work well as ground covers to help prevent erosion on slopes or by retaining walls.
When you pick out your low growing perennials, consider how much sunlight they need to thrive, the growing zone, and how much water they need. While they may not need a huge amount of maintenance, you also want to think about your ability to care for them and how much time you can devote. Below, we’re going to list 25 great choices that you might want to consider growing, depending on your variables.
1. Alyssum (Lobularia maritima)
Dainty, small white blooms decorate this low growing perennial during the summer months. The plants stay short, and they tend to grow like a thick mat that reaches between four and six inches thick and six to nine inches wide per plant. White is the most common color for this plant, but you can find it in hues of purple or pink with minimal effort. Even though this is technically a perennial, most people choose to grow it as a cold-hardy annual. Alyssum can grow in partial or full sun as long as it has a soil that drains well. It does best in zones 7 to 11, and the abundance of delicate blooms this plant produces adds texture and depth to your cottage garden.
2. Barrenwort (Epimedium grandiflorum)
Also referred to as Fairy Wings, the flowers on this low growing perennial don’t disappoint when they show. The flowers may not be especially large, but the shape is so unusual that you can’t help but do a double-take. The flowers on this plant will dangle from wiry, delicate stems, and they look like brightly colored spiders dangling from their webs. The petals will spread apart, and this makes them look like wings or legs. The flowers won’t last a long time however, so you want to be sure to appreciate them when they do bloom each season.
The foliage is just as interesting as the flowers on this plant, and they’re burgundy or deep green with a heart shape, depending on the variety you pick out. The plants grow between 8 and 12-inches high, and they like full to partial shade. They’re drought-tolerant, and both rabbits and deer tend to avoid them to make them the perfect garden perennial in zones four to eight.
Creating layers in your garden is the key to getting a well-rounded finished look. Low growing perennials like this one provide appeal, texture, and interest for longer times than a lot of the more striking, taller plants. They also fit in several more locations.
3. Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)
If you have a spot in your garden where other plants are struggling due to excess shade or poor soil conditions, try growing a Bearberry. This native low growing perennial is an evergreen shrub that thrives in spaces where most plants can’t grow. This is a smaller plant, but it offers very attractive, glossy, dark green leaves with red stems that make it pop. During the spring, it produces tiny pink or white bell-shaped flowers that dangle from the end of the stems like fairy lanterns.
Once it flowers, it produces small, edible, red berries that are an important food source for birds and mammals. The foliage will turn to a pretty hue of purplish-red during the winter, and this lends year-round interest to the landscape. Besides working well as a groundcover, this plant looks great sprawling over rock walls or used as a border plant in zones two to six.
4. Bellflower (Campanula)
As the name suggests, vibrant bell-shaped flowers appear on this low growing perennial in shades of white, purple, red, and pink. The blooms will last throughout the summer months, and they can even hang on through the fall. Depending on the variety you pick out, they can stand upright or be low growing, and they reach anywhere from one to six feet. They do best in zones four to eight, and they require a soil that drains very well after you water it with a moderate amount of moisture. It loves to be in full sun, and you should give them an inch of water each week.
5. Coneflowers (Echinacea)
There are several coneflower varieties to choose from when it comes to low growing perennials, and most do best planted in zones three to nine. Most of the summer to fall blooming plants feature several petals that surround a colorful center disc. You can find plants with double rays, and some have rays that will grow to point toward the ground instead of upwards. The most common coneflowers you’ll find are purple, but they also come in a host of various color combinations.
Dianthus can be a perennial, biennial, or annual, but we’ll look at the perennial version. They look like smaller versions of carnation flowers with more jagged edges, and the petals on this low growing perennial are either single or double. The colors include lavender, red, white, or pink, and Dianthus can bloom from spring or summer until well into the fall months.
There are three different types that function as perennials, and they are D. superbus, D. plumarius, and D. deltoides. The hardiness zone for these plants falls between three and nine, and they need a very well-draining but nutrient-rich soil and full sun to thrive. The soil should be slightly alkaline to neutral in nature, and you want to water them weekly so they get roughly an inch of water each week.
7. Dusty Miller (Jacobaea maritima)
You’ll add this low growing perennial for the foliage instead of the flowers, and Dusty Miller offers silvery, highly divided, and slightly fuzzy leaves. The leaves feel like very soft wool to the touch, and they look like smaller deer antlers. Most gardeners remove the small white or yellow flowers as they appear because they can distract from the striking foliage. These plants will add a softness to your landscape, and they can help tone down the brighter displays and colors, and it’s a great ground cover to have to create contrast for the showier blooms in your garden.
This perennial won’t get lost in the shadows and it won’t distract from the more colorful plants. They put forth their own nie exhibition instead, and they form the perfect backdrop or contrast for the more intense, darker flowers. Dusty Miller is hardy in zones 8 to 11.
8. Dwarf Sea Holly (Eryngium)
This low growing perennial is one that flowers heavily, and it features stunning bluish-purple blooms with greenish-silver foliage. The blooms are more rounded in shape, and they sit above leaves that are deeply toothed. It can reach roughly a foot high, and it will spread between 8 and 10 inches wide. The blooms can appear in the early summer months and go until late fall.
It grows best planted in zones four to nine, and it requires a minimum of partial shade with at least six hours of sunlight or full sun each day. You’ll also want to water it weekly until it establishes itself. Well-draining soil is critical, but it does well in any soil quality. Deadheading your plant will encourage more blooms during the current and future growing seasons.
9. Eastern Pasque Flower (Pulsatilla patens)
As a pretty early bloomer, this low growing perennial will brighten up your spring garden with single white, blue, or purple flowers in a bell shape. Butterflies and bees love this flower as they use it as an early food source that they need after the colder winter.
The Eastern Pasque Flower stands between 3 and 10 inches tall, and it will rarely get over a foot tall. The delicate nature of the petals contrasts with the bright yellow center stamen to add color in the early spring flower garden. Each flower grows on top of a short green stem, but they usually emerge in bright clusters that create a fun display. They’re hardy in zone four to seven.
10. Foamflower (Tiarella sp.)
This low growing perennial gives you attractive and interesting foamy-looking blooms, but it’s the foliage that most people grow it for. The foliage is oak leaf, heart, or star-shaped, and it has green coloring with black and deep burgundy markings. Most foamflower plants won’t get over a foot tall, and there are dozens of cultivars to choose from with a host of variegation and leaf shapes.
The flowers will start to show up during the early spring months on the stems that sit above the foliage, and they have a very airy, delicate look that make them resemble piles of foam of the clouds, and this is where the name comes from. The foliage will keep this pretty coloring all year-round, and it can take on a deeper hue during the winter months. Foam Flowers grow very well planted in shaded locations, and this makes them a great choice for underplanting for taller shrubs, and they’re hardy in zones four to nine.
11. Ice Plant (Delosperma)
The Ice Plant produces daisy-like blooms with succulent foliage. It will form a very low mat of foliage that adds texture and interest to the garden. You’ll get pretty two inch blooms that come in shades of white, purple, yellow, and pink. The name of this low growing perennial comes from the glossy, small dots that decorate the foliage and look like ice crystals. It will stand between six and eight inches tall.
You want to grow this plant in zones five to nine, and you should plant it in direct sunlight where it can get a minimum of six hours of sun a day. It can survive in partially shaded spots too, but it won’t produce as many blooms. It requires well-draining soil, and you want to water it deeply during the first growing season. Along with the blooms that last a long time, the foliage is also pretty with the succulent look.
12. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
Along with the culinary use and alluring fragrance, lavender makes a pretty addition to your landscape or garden. IT produces pretty flower spikes that sit on top of pretty green foliage with a shrub-like, compact form. Despite the name, you can find lavender in shades or pink, white, or yellow. It can get between two and three feet tall.
You want to grow it in zones five to eight, and it’s a very hardy perennial that does best in dry, well-draining soil and full sun. You shouldn’t plant it in very acidic soil as it needs slightly alkaline to be happy, and take care to not overwater it. You can enjoy the fragrance and look of this plant throughout the summer months.
13. Midget Pincushion Plant (Knautia macedonica)
As a dwarf plant, this is a herbaceous low growing perennial that is shorter than most traditional Pincushion plants and will only get up to 1 ½ feet tall. It produces rounded, ruby red blossoms in the late spring months that continue to the early fall. The foliage is pinnate and vibrant green.
This plant does best in zones five to eight, and it loves to be in a spot that gets full sun each day. However, you will need to protect it from the wind. Nutrient-rich, well-draining soil is necessary to keep the plant happy, and you want to keep the soil moist without waterlogging it. Once this plant establishes itself, it’s resistant to drought. This plant offers a unique display with an interesting texture and a bright pop of color.
14. Moss Phlox (Phlox subulata)
Besides offering some of the sweetest flowers available, Moss Phlox is also great for having a huge variety available. You’ll get star-shaped blooms that are very delicate, and they come in hues of white, pink, blue, purple, and bicolors. When this low growing perennial blooms, the growth will have a stunning splash of color. It gets between three and six inches tall at full maturity, and it’ll cover the ground with an attractive, dense foliage that has a moss look, hence the name.
Even when it’s not in bloom, this plant adds a rich color and look to your landscape. If you want a pure white plant, look for White Delight or Snowflake cultivars. Scarlet Flame, Purple Beauty, and Candy Stripe are great cultivars if you want pink or purple flowers, and it’s hardy in zones three to eight. There are several types of phlox to choose from, and moss phlox is the shortest option, so look for this for a true groundcover plant.
Commonly called the cup flower, this low growing perennial shows off pretty blooms from the middle of summer until the late fall months. The blooms come in a purplish-blue or creamy white color, and they have a yellow center. It has a mounding growth habit and will spread between 12 and 15 inches per plant. It can get between six and eight inches tall at full maturity, and it grows best when you plant it in zones 7 to 10. So, it has a much smaller range. It needs to have well-draining soil that is very rich in nutrients, and it grows in partial shade or full sun. You want to keep the soil moist but don’t waterlog it.
16. Perennial Geranium (Geranium sanguineum)
If you want a high-blooming low growing perennial, this geranium type is the right pick. Depending on which variety you end up with, it can grow between 6 and 18 inches tall and spread between 18 and 24 inches. The cup-shaped flowers can come in hues of red, white, purple, pink, and bicolors, and it can have single or double blooms. The foliage is green and lush.
The Latin name for this plant is Geranium sanguineum, and it’s more commonly called the Cranesbill Geranium. You can grow this perennial in zones five to nine, and it grows best in well-draining soil in partial shade. They are prone to developing issues with root rot if you keep them in constantly wet soil. You can find long-lasting flowers on perennial geraniums, and they allow you to add splashes of vibrant colors all year long.
17. Perennial Pinks (Dianthus sp.)
If you’ve seen Pinks in your spring garden, you’ll understand why people are obsessed with this colorful, delicate flower. They are a low-maintenance, low growing perennial that pops in the garden. There is a huge range of cultivars to choose from when you shop, and it’s easy to fill your space with them and be content. The colors for these small one or two inch blooms range from pink to purple, red, whtie, and black, but the multi-colored varieties are the real showstoppers that contrast sharply with their color combinations.
You’ll get frilly-edged, dainty petals with a huge amount of flowers per plant that make them a favorite pick for the garden. The foliage is grass-like and low-key, and this lets the blooms take center stage. Most pinks are between 6 and 12 inches tall, and they have a very appealing clove-like scent. The fragrance can vary from cultivar to cultivar, but most of them have some scent. Coconut Punch, Georgie Peach Pie, Fire and Ice, Pinball Wizard, White Fire, and Superstar are all fantastic choices, and they grow best in zones four to eight.
18. Perennial Violet (Viola)
Violets are low growing perennials that can easily reach between 6 and 12 inches tall, and they can spread over six inches wide, depending on the variety you pick out. It offers scalloped foliage in a pretty shade of green. Violets have bright jewel-tones for the colors that come in shades of red, pink, white, orange, blue, purple, and yellow. Some look so intricate and unique that you’d assume they were hand painted.
This is a very cold-hardy, tough plant that needs moist soil with a high nutrient content to be happy, and partial shade to full sun are ideal growing conditions. There are over 500 species available, so it makes sense that it has a very large growing range. Violets can grow in zones 2 to 11, depending on your cultivar.
19. Periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus)
You’ll see continuous blooms throughout the spring well into the fall months, and it comes in shades of purple, pink, white, and red. The foliage is very dark green, and each leaf this plant produces measures between two and three inches long. This low growing perennial will form a dense mound that is between two and three feet tall, and it surprisingly doesn’t prefer soil that is rich in nutrients. However, it adores soil that drains well. Parietal shade or full sun is necessary for healthy growth, and it’s heat and drought-resistant. You can add it to your garden in zones four to nine to get a feel of elegance and beauty.
20. Pussytoes (Antennaria plantaginifolia)
This native low growing perennial is low-maintenance, and it produces very rich, pretty, paddle-shaped leaves in medium green. The foliage is between 6 and 12 inches tall, and it’s the main attraction with this mat-forming plant. The flowers are white, small, fuzzy, and unique, and they look like little cotton swabs or pin cushions. The flowers won’t stand out much, but the butterflies and birds will enjoy them.
This is a solid choice for anyone looking for a low-maintenance but attractive groundcover plant. It is also very tolerant to drought, can grow in shaded areas, likes poor soil conditions, and it rarely has issues with diseases or pests. This plant is native to the eastern portion of the United States, and it’s hardy in zones three to eight.
21. Rose Vervain (Glandularia canadensis)
Also commonly called verbena, this low growing perennial will sprawl out when you plant it and produce purplish-blue flowers. It grows in very flat clusters of five-petaled, brightly colored flowers that hover over the green foliage. When it blooms, this native plant puts on a stunning display of color that attracts hosts of bees and butterflies to it.
The foliage is very dark green on this plant, deeply lobed, and it’s the perfect backdrop to showcase the colorful flowers. It will get between 6 and 18 inches tall at full maturity, and it works well when you plant it in large groupings or along a border in your yard. It also does well in hanging baskets and containers, and it can adapt to many growing conditions in zones five to nine.
22. Stella de Oro (Hemerocallis)
This compact daylily is a favorite with gardeners as it has very pretty blooms with lower maintenance needs. It will produce flowers between May and July, and it’ll bloom a second time over the season. It gets up to a foot tall, and it has trumpet-shaped, bright yellow blooms that are very fragrant. The latin name is Hemerocallis, and this comes from the Greek words “hemera” and “kallos” which translates into day and beauty.
It grows in zone three to nine, and full sun is the preferred area to grow it in. However, it can grow in partial shade. It requires soil that drains very well, and it likes a lot of nutrients in the soil to ensure it stays healthy. You should water it deeply during the first growing season to help it establish a deeper root system and brighten up your garden.
23. Stonecrop (Sedum sp.)
There are dozens of cultivars and species of stonecrop available that it’s difficult to know which to choose. All of these are low growing perennials, and they have small height variance between them that usually ranges from 6 to 10 inches. They have thick, attractive, succulent-like foliage with five-petaled, small rosette flowers. Stonecrop plants will hug the ground to form a dense carpet of blue-green or green leaves, and when this plant blooms, it bursts with flowers. It’s great in rock gardens, as edging, or as a ground cover.
As a bonus, it grows very well in containers. We recommend that you pick out a native cultivar, like Broadleaf Stonecrop as it offers greenish-silver leaves with bright yellow blooms. Wild Stonecrop is another option that is native to North America, and it has light green coloring on the leaves with a mass of star-shaped flowers in bright white. Wormleaf Stonecrop is native to the United States, and it has deep yellow blooms with light green foliage. It’s also commonly called golden constellation plants because it produces a huge range of star-shaped flowers in yellow.
Yet another North American species in Spearleaf Stonecrop, and it’s the host plant for the Rocky Mountain Apollo Butterfly species. Spreading Stonecrop is from the western portion of the United States, and it has deep red, succulent-like leaves with bright yellow flowers that stand out against the green foliage.
24. Verbena (Verbena officinalis)
This plant usually grows between 6 and 10 inches tall, and they produce very attractive clusters of flowers with hairy, dark foliage. You can find them in shades of white, pink, purple, red, or bicolors with a different color in the center of the flower. The blooms start in the middle of summer and go until fall.
This low growing perennial requires a minimum of six hours of sunlight each day with an inch of water a week. It’s not picky with the soil, but it needs to drain well. It is best planted in zones two to eight, and it’s a very cold-hardy option. They look nice in containers and planted in the garden.
25. Wooly Yarrow (Achillea tomentosa)
Finally, the last low growing perennial on the list is yarrow. This low growing perennial forms a very dense clump of foliage that is between 6 and 12 inches tall. It’s very fuzzy with a fern-like shape. During the early summer months, yarrow will give you larger clusters of deep yellow flower disks that rise above the foliage. It’s drought-tolerant and hardy, and it’s easy to maintain and grow. It’ll spread across the ground to create a very dense carpet of furry foliage. It works very well planted in rock gardens, on top of a stone wall, as a ground cover, or in containers in zones three to seven.
These 25 low growing perennials are all excellent options to help you create a layered and well-rounded look in your landscape, and you can easily mix and match several of them to get explosions of color. Take a look, see which ones will work for your space, and plant them in the spring to enjoy them year after year.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.