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I am looking for an easy-to-care-for ground cover that will allow spring crocus to flower well. I am in the North West of England, the soil is reasonably drained and is clay based with a lot of added organic matter. The flowerbed is in a mix of full sun and part shade.

I am happy to cut back the ground cover in mid-winter if required.


Options I am considering

  • Hedera helix Gold Trailing Ivy
  • Soleirolia soleirolii 'Variegatum'. (Baby's Tears, Mind Your Own Business)
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  • 1
    Possibly thyme, or even several different thymes.
    – Ecnerwal
    Nov 9, 2022 at 14:12
  • @Ecnerwal I don't think it well drained enough for thyme to like the conditions. Nov 9, 2022 at 14:29

2 Answers 2

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If you can get this plant in your area, I recommend Mazus reptans (no common name that I'm aware of). It is extremely low-growing (maybe 1cm tall) would like your soil and sunlight conditions. As a groundcover, it's easy to grow and, if necessary, easy to remove because it's truly stoloniferous, rooting at nodes along creeping stems. It has interesting blue-purple flowers with yellow and white highlights in mid-May here in US zone 5. Crocus can easily grow through it and because Mazus is semi-evergreen, it can provide a green backdrop to the crocus flowers.

Note that the attached link says that Mazus likes well-drained soil; this has not been my experience, as it can dry out if the soil is too sandy. One other possible issue with Mazus is that it may burn during the winter in areas with full sun, too little snow cover, and too cold of temperatures (-15F). Otherwise, it's been problem-free for me.

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  • Thanks, looks nice, but my soil is not reliably moist in the summer. Nov 9, 2022 at 14:41
  • My soil is also not reliably moist, so don't let that stop you. For example, during the drought we had in 2021 (no rain for six weeks, late June through July), I never watered the mazus and it did just fine in maybe 3 hours of sun. The plants will only need extra water during their first year in the ground, as they get established. They may need extra water in a drought if in full sun, however.
    – Jurp
    Nov 9, 2022 at 17:00
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Avoid ivy, is my advice. It's too rampant. Have you looked at Geranium 'Rozanne' at 50-60cm spacing? It has a long flowering season and makes good ground cover that won't start growing in the spring until the crocus have finished flowering. You can cut it back in the winter. According to the RHS:

A vigorous spreading perennial to 60cm tall, with neat, dense, lobed, marbled and flecked mid-green leaves and saucer-shaped violet-blue flowers 5cm wide, veined purple, with a white centre, opening from early summer to early autumn. Shortlisted for the Chelsea Plant of the Centenary for the decade 1993-2002 ...

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