Category Archives: Groundcovers

Goat’s Beard

Goat's Beard (Aruncus dioicus)
Aruncus dioicus

Goat’s Beard has decorative finely-cut foliage and will create a bold, showy effect for a moist or partly-shaded spot all season. Dense, feathery plumes of tight white flowers rise well above the foliage spring to summer.

Goat’s Beard is an excellent background plant or grouped in a woodland setting. It dies back to the ground in winter, only to return gloriously in the spring. Goat’s Beard spreads slowly by rhizomes to form attractive patches, and can be planted in more sunny areas provided there is good moisture. It’s a “host” plant to the Dusky Azure Butterfly.


  • Light Requirements: Part Shade, Full Shade
  • Water Requirements: Moist, Perennially Wet
  • Ease of Growing: Easy to grow
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • Spreads: Yes
  • Wildlife Support: Pest-eating Insects, Birds or Mammals, Pollinators
  • Edible: No
  • Mature Height: 5-15ft
  • Mature Width: 3-5ft

Western Bleeding Heart

Western bleeding heart (Dicentra formosa)
Dicentra formosa ssp. formosa

Bleeding heart’s showy flower resembles a heart split open at the base, releasing its contents. It has delicate-looking fernlike leaves, with pink flowers that bloom from April to June. Bleeding heart prefers rich soil and some shade. It will thrive planted under evergreen trees or along stream banks. Heights of 26 inches can be reached though 12-16″ is more common.


  • Light Requirements: Part Shade, Full Shade
  • Water Requirements: Moist
  • Ease of Growing: Easy to grow
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Spreads:
  • Wildlife Support: Hummingbirds, Pest-eating Insects
  • Edible: No
  • Mature Height: 1-1.5ft
  • Mature Width: 1.5-2ft

Hooker’s Fairy Bells

Hooker’s Fairy Bells (Disporum hookerii)
Disporum hookerii

Lovely, outwards-flaring flowers of greenish-white to cream over deep green leathery foliage, with characteristic long, drip-tips to the leaves.


  • Light Requirements: Part Shade, Full Shade
  • Water Requirements: Moist
  • Ease of Growing: Easy to grow
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Spreads:
  • Wildlife Support: Pollinators, Birds or Mammals
  • Edible:
  • Mature Height:
  • Mature Width:

Broad-leaf Shooting Star

Henderson’s shooting star (Dodecatheon hendersonii)
Dodecatheon hendersonii

This bulb-producing perennial begins in late winter with thick spoon shaped leaves at the base of the plant. Showy flowers appear in early spring on top of a tall 12 in (30 cm) leafless flower stalk. Flowers are inside out with petals magenta to deep lavender to white, with a white strip before the black fertile part. It blooms February to May and is summer deciduous, dying back to the ground after the rains cease.


  • Light Requirements: Full Sun, Part Shade
  • Water Requirements: Moist
  • Ease of Growing: Easy to grow
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Spreads:
  • Wildlife Support: Pollinators, Pest-eating Insects
  • Edible:
  • Mature Height: 1ft
  • Mature Width: 6in

Wood Strawberry

Woodland strawberry (Fragaria vesca)
Fragaria vesca ssp. bracteata

After flowering, rounded, egg-shaped, red edible berries appear in the late summer and early autumn. These appear to be smooth coated but are in fact covered in very short hairs, visible only at close range.

  • Light Requirements: Full Sun, Part Shade
  • Water Requirements: Dry, Moist
  • Ease of Growing: Easy to grow
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Spreads: Yes
  • Wildlife Support: Birds or Mammals
  • Edible: Yes
  • Mature Height: 6in
  • Mature Width: 1ft

Oregon iris

Oregon iris (Iris tenax)
Iris tenax

Iris tenax is a species of Iris native to southwestern Washington and northwestern Oregon. It is known as the tough-leaved iris or Oregon iris. It occurs along roadsides and in grasslands and forest openings at low to middle elevations. One subspecies is also known from northern California.

Like most irises, it has large and showy flowers. The flowers bloom in mid to late spring and are usually lavender-blue to purple, but blooms in white, yellow, pink, and orchid shades are known to sometimes occur.


  • Light Requirements: Full Sun, Part Shade
  • Water Requirements: Dry, Moist
  • Ease of Growing: Moderate
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Spreads:
  • Wildlife Support: Hummingbirds, Pest-eating Insects, Birds or Mammals
  • Edible:
  • Mature Height: 1-2ft
  • Mature Width: 1-2ft
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