One of the hardest things about growing plants of any kind is dealing with weeds. Nature abohors a vaccuum, so whenever bare soil exists, plants are going to start growing. Usually these plants are going to be plants we don't want - in other words, weeds! But the best way to prevent weeds from taking over your landscaped beds and berry bushes is to occupy that space with a plant we do want - and groundcovers are plants which do this extremely well!
Typically in landscaping, many non-native plants are used as groundcovers, and while they might get the job done, here at Hundred Fruit Farm we are a big believes in multiple functions. So in our nursery we only sell groundcovers that also achieve some other function - an edible or medicinal yield, or supporting native pollinators and wildlife (which is what native plants do). So below we will list and describe the various groundvoers we sell in our nursery and what their benefits and uses are.
Wild strawberries (Fragaria virginiana) doing what they do best - carpeting the ground and looking great!
Sweet woodruff and ostrich ferns - two great groundcovers for shady areas and both with edible uses.
Dwarf Comfrey - Symphytum grandiflorum
Although most comfrey plants get huge, dwarf comfrey tops out at around 18" high. It forms a clump, spreads aggressively from rhizomes, and does a gerat job of keeping weeds from growing in its patch. Grows easily in average, well-drained soils in full sun to nearly full shade. Flowers are very attractive and highly utilized by honeybees and bumblebees.
Garlic Chives - Allium tuberosum
Garlic chives grow in clumps but self-seed so prolifically that they can form a fairly dense groundcover over time. Leaves have a mild garlic flavor and can be cut like any other chive and will immediately grow back to be cut as much as you want all season. Blooms beautifully in late summer, attracting a wide variety of pollinators including many native bees and tiny parasitic wasps. A must-have for any garden!
Ostrich Fern - Matteuccia struthiopteris
Ostrich ferns do great in moist areas with full to partial shade and have the best edible fiddleheads of any fern. Ostrich ferns are among the tallest ferns around, growing to a height of over 6 ft! Does very well in rain gardens, but does not tolerate dry soil very well. Highly deer resistant; deer do noy enjoy ferns at all!
Sweet Woodruff - Galium odoratum
Sweet woodruff is an excellent low-growing groundcover for full to partial shade. Foliage has a pleasant light green color and grows to a height of only about 8-12". Sweet woodruff will expand somewhat aggresively via rhizomes. Loves moist but well-drained soil. Sometimes goes dormant by mid-summer if grown in a location with too much sun. Sends up pretty little clumps of white flowers in April/May. Foliage and flowers have a plesant aroma and can be used to make "May wine", by steeping them in a white wine (usually Riesling) for several hours.
Wild Strawberry - Fragaria virginiana
The best groundcover of all, wild strawberries aggressively send out many runners every year and can quickly blanket the ground. Produces tiny, half inch strawberries that will be among the most flavorful strawberries you'll ever taste. Berries ripen in June but are highly favored by wildlife of all kinds, so give them a huge area to grow so there are enough berries for everyone! Not to be confused with the tasteless berries of mock strawberry (Potentilla indica) which look somewhat similar. Mock strawberry has yellow flower petals and insipid tiny round berries; our beloved wild strawberry has white petals and tiny but delicious elongated berries.