Variegated Groundcovers Add Zip to Shady Corners

Need a little color where it’s too dark for flowers? Consider a variegated groundcover. These four are all good candidates for the shadows.

Dead nettle (Lamium maculatum). Mature height: 15 inches. New growth flushes each spring, then slows by early summer. Requires moisture, but no pest problems and completely winter-hardy in any part of the state.

Variegated Algerian ivy (Helix canariensis variegated). South Texans will enjoy this large-leafed cousin of English ivy. Blades may be 4 or 5 inches across and they’re attractively marbled green with creamy white. It’s a Zone 9 plant, however, so it’s only going to survive winters along the Gulf Coast and in the Valley. It must have shade to keep it from overheating. It is good in baskets and pots for summer accents. It grows to 10 inches high.

Bronzeleaf Asian jasmine (Trachelospermum asiaticum ‘Bronzeleaf’). This under-used variant of Texas’ most popular groundcover grows anywhere in the state where its sister will grow. It’s well suited to sun or shade and it should be kept at 6 or 7 inches high. A creamy white form is also available if you prefer.

Variegated Vinca (Vinca major ‘Variegated’). This plant and its all-green sister were two of Texas’ first groundcovers. They’re beautiful in late winter, spring and early summer but you’ll have to spray with systemic insecticide in June to prevent or control leafrollers that will ruin their appearance. Trim them in the fall or winter to eliminate rangy stems. Maintain at 12 inches.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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