Category Archives: Groundcovers

Douglas Aster

Douglas Aster (Aster subspicatus)
Aster subspicatus

Douglas Aster is a tall spreading perennial that blooms into the late summer and thrives on saltwater shorelines. The rather lanky stems are topped with bluish purple flowers that look like miniature daisies (ray flowers). The prolific blooms will draw lots of butterflies.


  • Light Requirements: Full Sun
  • Water Requirements: Moist
  • Ease of Growing: Easy to grow
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • Spreads: Yes
  • Wildlife Support: Pollinators, Hummingbirds, Pest-eating Insects, Birds or Mammals
  • Edible:
  • Mature Height: 1-4ft
  • Mature Width: 2ft

Larkspur

Larkspur (Delphinium trollifolium)
Delphinium trollifolium

This wildflower reaches one half to just over one meter in height. It has large, shiny, deeply lobed leaves. The top half of the stem is an inflorescence of widely spaced flowers on long pedicels, the longest over nine centimeters long. The flowers are usually deep brilliant blue. The upper two petals may be milky white. The spur exceeds two centimeters in length in the largest of the flowers. This plant is toxic.

  • Light Requirements: Part Shade, Full Shade
  • Water Requirements: Moist, Seasonally Wet
  • Ease of Growing: Easy to grow
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Spreads:
  • Wildlife Support: Pollinators, Hummingbirds
  • Edible: No
  • Mature Height: 4ft
  • Mature Width: 2ft

Yellow Wood Violet

Yellow wood violet (viola glabella)
Viola glabella

Yellow wood violets have large, bright-green, heart-shaped basal leaves just below deep-yellow, pansy-like flowers. The lateral and lower petals are marked with purple veins. Slender leaning or erect stems with leaves only in upper one-third, and bilaterally symmetrical, yellow flowers facing outward, hanging from slender stalks.

A very common species in moist, shaded places in woods. Most western Violets have yellow rather than purple corollas, but all have the perky little flower with a spur or pouch behind the lower petal. The lower petal forms a landing platform for insects seeking nectar within the spur.


  • Light Requirements: Part Shade, Full Shade
  • Water Requirements: Moist, Seasonally Wet
  • Ease of Growing: Easy to grow
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • Spreads: Yes
  • Wildlife Support: Pest-eating Insects, Birds or Mammals
  • Edible: Yes
  • Mature Height: 4-9in
  • Mature Width: 6-12in

Tufted Hairgrass

Tufted hairgrass (Deschampsia cespitosa)
Deschampsia cespitosa

Tufted Hairgrass is found around the world including the eastern and western coasts of North America, parts of South America, and Eurasia. It is a native, perennial, tussock forming grass found along stream banks and in moist meadows, fields, wet ditches and open areas surrounding lakes and ponds. Tufted hairgrass is a large densely tufted, course, long lived, perennial bunch grass. It has bright green foliage and a large volume of fountain-like seed culms emerging in early spring, making it highly aesthetic. Tufted hairgrass prefer open sites. This grass is rarely, if ever an under story species of temperate forest communities (Brown et al. 1988).

In the Pacific Northwest tufted hairgrass form pure stands in wet and intermittently flooded areas such as tidal mudflats and estuaries plant communities. It grows in seeps bogs, and brackish waters along the coastal waterways. It is very salt tolerant grass and, as a result, is commonly included in many restoration or re-vegetation projects where brackish water exists.

Tufted hairgrass is also a rapid colonizer of disturbed sites at high elevations (8,000 ft – Cascade & Sierra Range). Such characteristics make it valuable for reclamation of disturbed high elevation mines, ski slopes and high elevation meadows. Tufted hairgrass, unlike blue wildrye, is genetically heterogeneous, self-incompatible and requires wind and insect pollinators for effective fertilization. Tufted hairgrass should be included in wetland, restoration projects since it provides very dense nesting foliage and has a very long summer green period. It is also a valuable stream bank erosion plant where long-term stabilization is necessary, and should be established with a nurse crop (blue wildrye, meadow barley, California brome, Alaska brome) or native straw mulch for superior first year establishment.


  • Light Requirements: Full Sun
  • Water Requirements: Dry, Moist, Seasonally Wet
  • Ease of Growing: Easy to grow
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • Spreads:
  • Wildlife Support: Birds or Mammals
  • Edible: No
  • Mature Height: 2-3ft
  • Mature Width: 1-2ft

Narrow-leaved Mules Ear

Narrow-leaved mules ear (Wyethia angustifolia)
Wyethia angustifolia

Also known as “Narrow-leaved Mule’s Ear” or “California Compassplant”. The inflorescence produces one or more large sunflower-like flower heads at the top of the hairy stem. Large lance-shaped, basal leaves with several smaller, alternate, stem leaves.

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

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
1 2 3 4 5