At the back of our property we have a 2 foot rock wall, made primary of just big rocks and boulders. Its really cool, however behind it is a thick forest and so due to the trees in our yard as well as the thick woods, it gets very little sun.

I love phlox and rock cress, and think they look awesome as they over flow over rocks and brick. However I doubt either will successfully grow or flower due to the heavy shade.

I live in Massachusetts and while I accept little sun means little chance of bright colors for flowers, I want a creeping plant that can flower occasionally to add some color.

Any thoughts on low shade ground cover/ creeping varieties?

  • This is all awesome stuff everyone thanks. I might grab some of each and see what grows and looks nice. Thanks so much.
    – treeNinja
    Sep 2, 2014 at 14:36

4 Answers 4


Vinca is a great ground cover vine that flowers, and creeps. Makes for a nice "ivy" type of look...

Ground cover images

More info on the plant here.

  • 2
    Also good to note that some vinca species are considered invasive in much of the continental US.
    – J. Musser
    Aug 28, 2014 at 11:53

Lamium varieties would probably fit the bill - they come in various leaf colours, some striped, some spotted, some yellow or variegated, some almost white, and all flower, mostly lilac flowers but also yellow or white.

The following are ones worth investigating:

Lamium maculatum 'Anne Greenaway', L. 'White Nancy', L. Beacon Silver, L. maculatum 'Brocade', Lamium galeobdolen 'Herman's Pride', L. 'Jade Frost'.

Using ones with different coloured leaves will also add interest to the area - they do pretty well in shade, but would really prefer occasional sun, and they cope very well with drought conditions once established. Generally unfussy about soil conditions and fully hardy.

UPDATE: A comment below mentions Lamiums looking a bit sad in late summer - I'd agree with that, it's usually after they've finished flowering, at which point, it's wise to cut them back, looks better and keeps them bushy, though by no means is this treatment essential. Would be good to have something other than Lamium in the mix, but I can't think of anything else.

  • You beat me to it. Lamium is usually the way to go in these cases.
    – J. Musser
    Aug 26, 2014 at 17:01
  • I find Lamium ends up looking a little sad in late summer. Dry hot conditions cause it to have dead spots on the ends of the leaves. It might work for this location.
    – kevinskio
    Aug 26, 2014 at 20:05
  • Thanks for the suggestions, I will research them tonight.
    – treeNinja
    Aug 26, 2014 at 20:42

Here is another option: Chrysogonum virginianum from an earlier post titled What is this native North American ground cover?


Another possibility is Cymbalaria muralis, aka Ivy-Leaved Toadflax, Kenilworth Ivy, Climbing Sailor, Colisseum Ivy or Devil's Ribbon. Note that this plant can be considered invasive in some areas of the US. Dave's Garden has some good information, including assesments, positive, negative and neutral, from people who have experience with this plant.

I've seen it growing on the retaining wall around our local church/churchyard. (Denmark, zones 6a - 6b) It's a subtle, delicate looking plant, and the contrast with large stones is very pretty.

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