Native Alternatives to Wintercreeper Euonymus & Other Exotic Groundcovers

For alternatives to these exotic or problem groundcovers:
                        Wintercreeper euonymus (Euonymus fortunei)
            As well as:
                        Lesser periwinkle (Vinca minor)
                        English ivy (Hedera helix)

We recommend the following sites for control of wintercreeper euonymus:
                        Missouri Vegetation Management Guides (Click on wintercreeper control.)
                        Illinois Weed Management Guides (Click on wintercreeper control.)

Some recommended alternatives to wintercreeper euonymus and other exotic groundcovers:

Antennaria plantaginifolia
Pussytoes

Pussytoes is native to eastern and central North America. It is a stoloniferous, mat-forming plant, with the leaves and flower stalks being woolly and grayish. It is best grown in lean, gritty to rocky, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. This is one of the few native Missouri plants which grows well in dry, shady locations. This plant can be difficult to cultivate in St. Louis gardens if soil requirements are not met. In optimum growing conditions, however, it can spread by stolons to form an attractive groundcover.

The related species Antennaria parlinii is also recommended.

Asarum canadense
Wild ginger

Wild ginger is a Missouri native spring wildflower which occurs in rich woods and wooded slopes throughout the State. It will form a low-growing groundcover. It is easily grown in average, medium to wet, well-drained soil, in part shade to full shade. Prefers constantly moist, acidic soil in heavy shade. Spreads slowly by rhizomes to form an attractive groundcover for shade areas.

Calamintha arkansana
Calamint

Calamint is a rhizomatous perennial in the mint family that typically forms a dense, low-growing foliage mat with upright, leafy flowering stems rising to 12” tall. It is an aromatic plant that flowers from May to October. It is best grown in neutral to slightly alkaline, medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun but tolerates light shade. Plants may spread in the garden by stolons and/or self-seeding.


Carex eburnea


Carex pensylvanica

Carex eburnea
Bristle-leaved sedge

This sedge is most commonly found growing in crevices of limestone bluffs in the Ozark areas. It has attractive foliage of soft, thread-like, green leaves in clumps 6-10” tall and as wide. Grow in medium moisture soil in part shade to full shade. Thrives in soil that receives consistent moisture, but also will grow in drier sandy or rocky soil. Plants spread slowly by rhizomes over time, sometimes forming large colonies in optimum conditions.

The similar Carex pensylvanica is also a good choice.

Erigeron pulchellus
Robin's plantain

Although robin’s plantain will produce small aster-like white flowers on 2-foot stems, its most attractive and useful virtue is its leaves that hug the ground. It is easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soil in full sun but also tolerates shade, particularly in hot summer climates. It tolerates heat and humidity well. Plants will naturalize in optimum growing conditions by self-seeding and stoloniferous spread.

Glandularia canadensis
Verbena

Rose verbena is a short-lived Missouri native perennial that typically occurs in prairies, fields, pastures, rocky glades, roadsides and waste areas in the central and southern parts of the State. It is a clumping, sprawling plant that grows to 6-18" tall, and can spread rather quickly by pubescent, decumbent stems, rooting at the nodes where they touch the ground, to form an attractive groundcover. Easily grown in average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun.

Iris cristata
Dwarf crested iris

Dwarf crested iris is a low-growing, rapidly spreading plant that typically grows to 3-6" tall. It features pale blue, lilac or lavender iris flowers with gold crests on the falls. Best grown in organically rich, medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Best in part shade but will tolerate close to full shade.

Mertensia virginica
Bluebells

Virginia bluebells are easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in part shade to full shade and prefers moist, rich soil. It is best massed and left undisturbed in moist, shady woodland, wildflower or native plant gardens where they will form a spring groundcover. Foliage dies to the ground by mid-summer as the plant goes dormant.

Packera aurea
Golden ragwort

Golden ragwort is a somewhat weedy perennial which is valued for its ability to thrive in moist shady locations, naturalize rapidly and produce a long and profuse spring bloom. It is easily grown in average, medium to wet soil in full sun to part shade. Blooms well in shady locations. It will naturalize into large colonies in optimum growing conditions.

Packera obovata
Round-leaved ragwort

Roundleaf ragwort is valued for its ability to thrive in shady locations, naturalize rapidly and produce a long and profuse spring bloom of bright yellow flowers. It is easily grown in average, moist, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Blooms well in shady locations and tolerates some soil dryness. Basal foliage will serve as an attractive groundcover throughout the growing season as long as consistent moisture is provided.

Phlox divaricata
Wild sweet William

This spring-flowering phlox is a spreading, native wildflower which forms mats of foliage with stems typically reaching 12-15" tall. It is a woodland species best grown in humusy, medium moisture, well-drained soil in part shade to full shade. It can form large colonies over time as leafy shoots spread along the ground rooting at the nodes.

Sedum ternatum
Three-leaved stonecrop

This sedum is native to Missouri and unlike most sedums typically occurs in damp locations along stream banks, bluff bases and stony ledges It grows 3-6" high and spreads by creeping stems which root at the nodes. It is easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Tolerates part shade and moist soil better than most other sedums.

Sisyrinchium angustifolium
Blue-eyed grass

Though their foliage is grass-like, the blue-eyed grasses belong to the iris family not the grass family and is noted for its violet-blue flowers. It is best grown in medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun but tolerates light shade. Prefers consistently moist soil that does not dry out, but drainage must be good.

Sporobolus heterolepis
Prairie dropseed

For full sun and ease of maintenace consider prairie dropseed. It is a clump-forming native Missouri perennial grass which has fine-textured, hair-like, medium green leaves (to 20" long and 1/16" wide) typically form an arching foliage mound to 15" tall and 18" wide. Foliage turns golden with orange hues in fall, fading to light bronze in winter. It is easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soil in full sun.

Symphyotrichum oblongifolium
Aromatic aster

Aromatic aster typically grows 1-2' (infrequently to 3') tall and features small, daisy-like flowers (1" across) with violet blue rays and yellow center disks. It is easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soil in full sun. Does well in sandy or clay soil and generally tolerates poor soil and drought. It is attractive to butterflies.

Waldsteinia fragarioides
Barren strawberry

Not to be confused with the weedy mock strawberry (Duchesnea indica) barren strawberry is an ornamental, strawberry-like plant grown primarily as a ground cover. It is a mat-forming plant (to 6" tall) which spreads by runner-like rhizomes creeping just below the soil surface and features 5-petaled yellow flowers. It is easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade.