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I'm looking for a ground cover / border for my flower beds that's:

  • Fast-propagating

  • Will tolerate zone 6 (although zone 5 might be more appropriate given the way the past few winters have been).

  • Morning sun.

  • Mostly wet. Soils here tend to be pretty high in clay content.

  • Hoping for at least 6" (15cm).

  • Inexpensive is a big plus!

Liriope is my choice if nothing else comes, but I wonder if you experts out there have a more interesting, better-looking, or faster-propagating recommendation.

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sun or shade, dry or wet, what height is preferred? –  kevinsky Sep 15 '11 at 17:41
    
Morning sun, mostly wet. Soils here tend to be pretty high in clay content. Hoping for at least 6" (15cm). –  FMM Sep 15 '11 at 19:03
    
Thanks for the edit, Mike! Would've done it myself, but I'm new here and my rep wasn't high enough yet. –  FMM Sep 16 '11 at 13:44
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6 Answers

  • alchemilla mollis Ladys mantle 8" - 12" works well under trees or in some shade
  • Gallium odoratum Sweet woodruff ~ 6-8" troublefree, hides bulb foliage nicely,slow grower
  • Oenothera speciosa Evening primrose and it's cultivars, good for hotter and dryer
  • as bstpierre mentions thyme is an excellent choice, inexpensive, widely available, tough
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Thymus serpyllum (creeping thyme) is an easy to grow, low height, low maintenance, creeping, perennial that's hardy to USDA zone 4. Pink flowers in early summer might be more interesting / better looking than the Liriope.

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These are some good ground covers that will grow in those conditions. Also they are very inexpensive.

  • english ivy
  • periwinkle
  • ajuga
  • snow on the mountain
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+1 for "ajuga". Isn't "snow on the mountain" an Annual? Also see here for "periwinkle" comment. –  Mike Perry Sep 16 '11 at 2:09
    
Actually I was thinking of the plant also known as bishops weed. –  jmusser Sep 18 '11 at 1:14
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Vinca Minor is one of my favorites, though it does not meet your 6-inch requirement.

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+1 for a nice looking plant, but it should be noted Vinca minor is considered invasive in certain parts of the US. –  Mike Perry Sep 16 '11 at 2:04
    
Thanks. I wasn't aware of that. –  baka Sep 16 '11 at 2:46
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Germander (Teucrium chamamedry) and lamb's ears (Stachys byzantina), both of which grow to 6 inches, are traditional garden edgers. Gardener's garters (Phalaris arundinacea 'Picta') is also commonly used as an edger, but I think it is better as a ground cover. It is in the 12-15 inch range, but mowable. Since you can buy just a few plants and divide them mid-spring and early-fall, you can cover a good sized area very cheaply provided that you are patient. Mint can be treated the same way — orange mint (Mentha x citrata) and penny-royal (M. pugegium) are under a foot — but, again, better as a ground cover. My favorite cheap edger, though, is chives which comes nicely from seed and also can be divided to cover more ground.

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Below plants are hardy down to USDA Hardiness Zone 3, prefer dry to medium moist soils, and full sun to part shade:

Below plants are hardy down to USDA Hardiness Zone 3 and 4 (respectively), prefer medium moist soils, and part shade:

Today (2011-09-16), I was made aware of this groundcover plant (hardy down to USDA Hardiness Zone 5, prefers medium moist soils, and full sun to part shade):

Additionally you may wish to take a look at the following question here on SE:

This time of new, later Summer, early Autumn (Fall) is normally an excellent time of pick up some real plant bargains at garden centers, nurseries, big box stores, etc and it's also a perfect time of year to get those plants in the ground and established before Wintertime arrives...

Also, most groundcover plants by their very nature spread, fill-in... therefore make excellent candidates for division (taking small sections and establishing them elsewhere). With that in mind, do you have neighbours, gardening friends, etc that have such plants and would be happy to let you take a few small plugs for establishment in your garden?

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