Variegated Asian Star Jasmine. Excellent evergreen ground cover with playful foliage that looks great year round. Lovely entire leaves are spaced and outlined in cream. Great contrast to the sage green leaf interior. Trailing ground cover (occasionally it can rise up to be a vine- in windfree locations with support) but mainly its value is a year round showy and consistent look. Mounding and trailing it will root into the ground when it feels like it. To 10″ tall and 3′ wide as a ground cover. To 10′ tall as a vine. Full sun to dense shade in rich, well drained soil. But it adapts to harsher sites if given regular water. Excellent under trees, shrubs. Dense enough to discourage weeds. Very cold and drought tolerant. Seldom blooms. Moderate deer resistance. This and all Trachelsospermum asiaticum have two distinct forms of foliage. Juvenile and adult. Juvenile foliage is associated with long trailing and vining material. In wind free, still locations it can rise up as vine and thats when it becomes adult. This plant ONLY BLOOMS ON ADULT foliage. So, that is one reason you seldom see flowers on Asian star jasmine. Over time adult foliage will appear on ground covers. Its less vining and more bushy. Again, until adult foliage forms there will be no flowers.
Plant Type: Ground cover
Ground covers are useful for many different places. The important things are scale, vigor, and fertility of the soil. We advocate for plants that actually cover the ground in the most efficient way possible. Prepare the soil, at least double dig it so that there is oxygen in the soil. Smaller ground covers all uniformly require NON- compacted soil. And most benefit from an annual top dress of compost. Pour it right over the top and then water it to settle between the leaves. Water them reqularly unless they are completely drought adapted. For ground covers between pavers its important that the soil never becomes compacted- if it does (see above with compost).
Be realistic and care for your ground cover
A good ground cover blocks out weeds and creates the effect of a pool of foliage. Don’t try to cover the whole planet- that is rarely successful. Instead be realistic about what each plant can do. Some ground covers excel at erosion control, they often root into the ground along the stem stabilizing soil as they grow. Others work efficiently at blocking the growth of other plants- that means in the correct conditions they will be the dominant plant. Remember that weed seeds are born on the wind. They don’t just miraculously sprout from below. Therefore, you must concentrate on eliminating invaders. If that means hand pulling then that is what it takes. Very few desirable ground covers can get by with absolutely no care. Consider these plants your team and you are the coach. Heh. Here is a list of plants that do this job well.
Climate Adapted Plants for Gardeners in the PNW
Rare perennial Siskiyou Inside-out-Flower is a much more drought tolerant version of our locally native Vancouveria hexandra (Inside out flower). This yellow flowered species tolerates extreme dry shade and colonizes even compacted dry soils to create a handsome ground cover. The delicate looking interestingly shaped leaves create a soft mound of shapes in cool green and edged slightly in red. In April-June 20″ wiry spikes suspend small downward pointing flowers- they appear to float above the foliage reminding me of a group of fireflies. (Wish we had those). Mostly evergreen if temperatures stay above about 15ºF. Basically this is our version of Epimedium (to which it is related) but with more tolerance for summer drought. To 8″ tall and spreading to several feet wide in richer, moisture retentive soil. Light summer water increases growth. This is an extraordinarily elegant native that should find a happy home in gardens too. Part shade to full shade. Not bothered by pests. Excellent perennial under large shrubs or within tree roots. In the wild it is the understory plant to Arctostaphylos, Rhododendron, Vaccinium, Notholithocarpus densiflorus var. echinoides. Associate perennials were Oxalis oreganus and Mianthemum as well as viola semperivrens- Redwood violet. Easy community to replicate in your garden. Oregon native plant.
Turkish speedwell is an excellent low water creeping ground cover that performs wonderfully in our climate. Flush with the ground this evergreen creeps in well drained average to enriched soil to several feet wide in several seasons. In April to May carpets of sky blue flowers obscure the entire plant. Very pretty. Roots as it grows, excellent for erosion control on a small scale on steep slopes. Regular summer water speeds growth but once established it takes summer drought very well. Full sun to the very lightest shade. Dies out in compacted soils- make sure to double dig the area around where it is to go to incorporate oxygen in the soil. For tired plantings simple overspread compost on top of it and let it settle between the leaves in early spring. Easy to grow hardy little ground cover. Moderate deer resistance.
Yerba de Selva or whipple vine, a wonderful small scale evergreen native ground cover. Related to Hydrangeas but this trailer is actually very droughtadapted.e In late spring clouds of small white flowers , Scrambling plant to about 8″ tall and 2′ wide. Full sun to considerable shade. From Portland south this is a common understory component of the herb field. It grew happily in our back 40 where I grew up. There it made pretty scrambling patches between Vancouveria, snow berry and hairy honeysuckle. Often you would see our native columbine ( Aquilegia formosa) as an associate. Its very drought adapted when established but it improves with a few soaks over summer- never perpetually wet and never hot and wet. Otherwise an easy native that should be grown a lot more. For use as a small scale ground cover plant on 10″ centers. It will also gracefully trail over rockeries and walls. Butterflies adore the flowers. Competes well with invasives. Some deer resistance. It may be cut back in early spring to refresh. Once native in the Portland city limits. This is a great native understory for Arctostaphylos, which is frequently seen in the wild. Oregon native plant.
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