Skip to Content

8 Great Ground-Cover Plants For Zone 5

Finding plants that thrive in planting zone 5 can be tricky. Zone 5 can be problematic, as temperatures can plummet as low as -20°F. Many plants aren't hardy enough to adapt to these frigid temperatures. Our team of experts created a list of 8 great groundcover plants for zone 5.

These robust plants are easy to grow and will add texture, beauty, and color to any space in your garden. Try these out even in those pesky areas where nothing will grow!

Here is a list of 8 great groundcover plants that will thrive in planting zone 5:

  1. Bearberry
  2. Sedum
  3. Creeping Thyme
  4. Ice Plant
  5. Hens and Chicks
  6. Lamb's Ear
  7. Sweet Woodruff
  8. Brass Buttons

Keep reading to learn more about each groundcover. Whether you're looking for a blanket of green, pops of color, or interesting foliage, hopefully, one of these options will fit your landscape perfectly.

A Peaceful Scene in Switzerland, 8 Great Ground-Cover Plants For Zone 5

Zone 5 Planting

Before discussing each plant in more detail, let's review zone 5 planting more in-depth. If you're unsure of what zone you are in, you'll want to view this map here. It shows all USDA plant hardiness zones. Zones 5a and 5b are in more northern and central parts of the country.

Zone 5 plants often face harsh winters, damaging winds, and brutally hot summers. These plants need to withstand all types of weather. Some of these plants are evergreens and will stay green all year, while some are deciduous, meaning they shed their leaves annually. 

It may surprise you to know there are several benefits of planting groundcover in your yard.

Controlling erosion, reducing weeds, serving as a grass alternative, and easily covering a large hillside or hard-to-grow area, are some of the reasons to include these versatile plants in your landscaping. 

8 Best Groundcover Plants for Zone 5

Here is where the fun begins. Take a look at each groundcover and learn more about each plant to decide if any of these appeal to you. The perfect groundcover for your zone 5 planting needs might be in our list below! 

1. Bearberry

Many interlaced plants of creeping cotoneaster

Planted in full sun, this low-growing perennial requires minimal care and grows with ease. It will only grow to be 6-12 inches tall but can grow 3-6 feet wide. It is covered with glossy, teardrop-shaped leaves that will turn a purplish-bronze color in the winter.

It has delicate pinkish-white flowers, which are in full bloom by the mid-spring. Afterward, bright red berries appear. The berries attract birds, butterflies, and small wildlife.

This plant is drought tolerant and grows best in well-drained, medium soil. It does not grow well in clay soil and doesn't do well when moved. Choose the perfect location the first time, so you don't take any risks moving this plant. 

2. Sedum

beautiful Bird Sedum with glossy round dense leaves,similar to rose flowers of gree, red colors on background of other unusual

Even the most novice gardener will find this groundcover easy to grow. Sedum grows in almost any condition and needs very little care and attention.

It is also known as a stonecrop because of its ability to grow in dry, rocky soil. Sedum does best when planted in full sun. Be careful not to water this plant too much. The one way in which you can harm this plant is by keeping it too moist. 

Sedum will flower, but most gardeners know them for their beautiful foliage. Find more varieties of sedum here. Sedum foliage comes in many shades of green, purple, or even silver.

Try this groundcover in your rock gardens, living walls, or xeriscape garden. The color and ease of this groundcover will amaze you.

Check out this Sedum available on Amazon.

3. Creeping Thyme

Creeping thyme (thymus serpyllum) is a beautiful perennial plant for the rock garden

This fast-growing groundcover will grow in low, dense mats up to 2-6 inches tall. Creeping thyme performs best in full sun to light shade.

Once mature, flowers in colors such as purple, pink, or white will bloom in late spring or early summer. Use the fragrant leaves and flowers on this groundcover fresh or dried. 

Tuck this groundcover into your walking path or plant it in beds or as borders. It will tolerate low amounts of foot traffic and it is also deer-resistant. 

Keep the soil moist, but not too wet. Creeping thyme will grow in most types of soil. Plant this, and you'll soon have a fragrant blanket of color. 

4. Ice Plant

Trailing Ice Plant

Just as its name suggests, the ice plant will survive the cold winters of zone 5 and will add a gorgeous pop of color to the driest areas of your garden.

While not named because of its ability to withstand the cold, the ice plant gets its name because the leaves and flowers shimmer, as though they are covered in a layer of ice crystals or frost. 

Daisy-like flowers bloom throughout the summer and fall. It remains evergreen, although some of the foliage may die back in the winter. Plant this succulent perennial in full sun for the ultimate performance.

Again, don't water this plant too much. They don't like overly wet soil and do best in drought-like conditions. Click here for more tips on how to care for ice plants properly. 

Find these gorgeous ice plants available on Amazon.

5. Hens and Chicks

Purple and green hens and chicks plants

No, we aren't talking about feathery friends. This tough succulent makes the perfect, low-maintenance groundcover. Hens and chicks flourish in sunny, hot, dry spots and rarely need watering. 

The rosette-shaped mother flower will produce many offshoots, which are the babies. The mother plant can grow as large as a plate, while the babies can be as small as a dime. The leaves display many shades of green and shades of purple and red, adding a pop of color where planted. 

This groundcover can grow in rocks and very dry, gritty soil. Hens and chicks grow best when the temperature is between 65-75°F. The hens and chicks will become semi-dormant and quit growing when the temperature rises or falls above its ideal growing temperature.  

Follow this link to find hen and chick seeds on Amazon.

6. Lamb's Ear

Wool Ziest

Known for its fuzzy, touchable leaves, lamb's ear, people grow it more for the color and texture of its foliage rather than its blooms. Occasionally, it will produce light purple flowers on tall spikes, which you can easily remove.

This groundcover is taller than the above groundcovers, as it can grow up to 18 inches tall, depending on the variety. 

In very cold climates, lamb's ear may not remain evergreen, but it will produce new growth at the roots in the spring. Under proper growing conditions, lamb's ear can grow extremely fast. Plant them at least 18 inches apart to prevent overcrowding. 

In hot climates, the leaves may appear to melt away and decline. No worries. Pick off the leaves and this plant will revive when the cooler temperatures appear. 

7. Sweet Woodruff

Flowering woodruff (Galium odoratum) somewhere in Denmark

If you're in zone 5 and looking for a stunning groundcover that will grow in even the deepest of shade, sweet woodruff is an excellent choice. This herb emits a sweet fragrance and produces clusters of star-shaped, lacy, white flowers. 

Be careful as this plant will spread quickly and can become invasive under the right growing conditions. Only plant this groundcover in areas you don't mind being naturally covered in sweet woodruff. Although shallow-rooted, well-established sweet woodruff can be hard to eliminate. 

Consider planting sweet woodruff under trees or shrubs. The decomposing leaves and branches will enrich the soil and create ideal growing conditions for the sweet woodruff. 

Check out these sweet woodruff seeds on Amazon.

8. Brass Buttons

These fern-like groundcovers are another choice if you're looking for a shade-loving plant. The colorful, feathery leaves have vibrant yellow flowers in the spring that resemble brass buttons. 

This groundcover only grows up to 3 inches tall and will form a dense mat. Avoid planting these in hot, sunny areas, as this plant will scorch in the sun. This groundcover adds both beautiful texture and color to any space. 

To Wrap It Up

A Peaceful Scene in Switzerland

As you can see, several groundcover options are available for planting in zone 5. Again, assess your growing conditions before deciding on what type of groundcover you'd like.

Whether you're planting in sun or shade, there is an option available. Succulents such as hens and chicks, or blankets of beautiful creeping thyme can transform any landscape into a magnificent space. 

For more landscaping tips and tricks, check out the following links:

How To Destroy Ground Covers—Without Harming Other Plants!

10 Ground Cover Plants That Choke Out Weeds