What Are The Best Shade-Loving Native Groundcovers For New Jersey?

Shade Native Groundcovers For New Jersey

“What are the best ground covers for where I live in coastal New Jersey? The location is shaded 75-80% of the day.” Question from Thomas of South Amboy, New Jersey

Answer: The groundcovers that grow best in the shaded areas in your area of coastal New Jersey are natives. Here are four of the prettiest and toughest for your area.

Native Groundcovers for Shade

American Alumroot (Heuchera americana) forms large mounds of textural, red-veined leaves make this hardy perennial a great groundcover for shaded spots. Truly, any Heuchera can be planted en masse to cover a lot of shady ground and look great. One note: they do not appreciate mulch over their crowns.

American Ginger (Asarum canadensis) is an attractive, low-growing, spreading groundcover with bright green, heart-shaped leaves. It is easy to grow and pretty.

Evergreen American Wild Ginger (Hexastylis arifolia) is a low-growing, spreading groundcover with beautifully mottled leaves. It is one of my favorite native groundcovers.

Appalachian Sedge (Carex appalachica) forms fine, grassy clumps of foliage that are very attractive. It will tolerate both dry and moist shade.

Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides) is a rare fern that is evergreen, grows well in dry shade once established, and spreads. Multiple plants must be planted over an area for it to cover good ground. It is my favorite groundcover for shade. (Click here to learn more.)

If natives are not your thing, then bugleweed (Ajuga reptans) is a pretty, low-growing spring bloomer with deep green foliage and spikes of bright purple flowers in spring. There are lots of attractive varieties available.

Happy gardening,

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist



Plants are the lens Jessie views the world through because they’re all-sustaining. (“They feed, clothe, house and heal us. They produce the air we breathe and even make us smell pretty.”) She’s a garden writer and photographer with degrees in both horticulture and plant biology from Purdue and Michigan State Universities. Her degrees were bolstered by internships at Longwood Gardens and the American Horticultural Society. She has since worked for many horticultural institutions and companies and now manages communications for Sun Gro Horticulture, the parent company of Black Gold. Her joy is sharing all things green and lovely with her two daughters.

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