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15 Low-Growing Border Plants You Should Consider
Border plants are used to establish borders in your garden. You can plant them between your other plants or to define the edges of areas on the ground if you're doing specific geometric work!
Border plants have a plethora of uses, and they can add a lot of personality and function to your garden, flowerbed, and landscaping. But with over thousands of different plants to choose from, how do you know which kinds of plants qualify as "border plants", and which out of those do you actually want to use around your house?
To make your life easier, we've compiled a list of fifteen low growing border plants that would be perfect for your various landscaping needs!
1. Blue Star Creeper
Blue Star Creeper is a fantastic green, low border plant, hardy enough to take some traffic, but pretty and delicate enough to draw the eye. It has also been garnering quite the name for itself as a low maintenance lawn alternative, due to its ability to spread quickly and penchant to grow no taller than around three inches.
This hardy border plant doesn't have any special soil requirements but does benefit from a once a year fertilizing in the spring to keep it healthy through its spring and summer growth spurts.
Due to its low maintenance nature, the Blue Star Creeper does well in a variety of different sun exposures. While it does best in full to partial sun, it can do just fine in shade, though it will be "fuller" looking if it's able to get at least some sun.
As far as water requirements go, a thorough watering once a week usually slakes this border plant's need for moisture, although if your locale is going through a heat stroke, you'll want to water more often to make sure the plants don't dry out.
This gorgeous ground cover can be grown from seed, which you can buy here on Amazon.
2. Portulaca (Sun Rose)
Portulaca, also known as the Sun Rose, or the Moss Rose, is a gorgeous, flowering border plant. With the flowers coming in "hot" colors like red, orange, and pink, this plant is what you're looking for if you're wanting to add some color to your landscape, without making it the main attraction. While it's not actually a rose, the small blossoms bear a resemblance to roses, which is what gives them their nicknames.
Sun Rose does best in sandy soil that drains well. It thrives in hot, draught frequented areas, making it great for the parts of your yard that don't seem to get hit as well by the sprinklers, or the parts of the world where lots of sun and heat is the constant.
They store water well, but they aren't able to go without being watered for weeks on end. Water them well about once a week, and adjust as you see fit. Their root system isn't deep, so they don't need to be soaked, but if they are constantly watered, possibly by an automated sprinkler system, make sure that they are planted in soil that drains well, as they are susceptible to root rot if they sit in water too long for too often.
It will do well and thrive in full sun, needing six or more hours of full sun to look its best, so positioning them where they'll get natural light throughout the day is your best bet at having a beautiful border plant with a stunning display.
Sun Roses will grow to a height of three to eight inches, and they spread very well. They can be grown flat on the ground to provide definition between your other plants, and they can also be planted in hanging baskets or on rock walls for a draping or waterfall effect.
They can be purchased at many stores, or grown from seeds that you can buy here from Amazon.
3. Lamb's Ear
Lamb's Ear, also known as "The Silver Carpet" is a soft, velvety plank that provides a gorgeous silvery backdrop for the greenery of the other plants in your landscape. With long, wide leaves that are more of a soft grey than green, they are more than capable of providing a beautiful undergrowth. Similar to a hosta, it may occasionally flower in tall, very abrupt stems and blossoms.
Lamb's Ear will do surprisingly well in almost any soil, as long as it drains well, but especially acidic soil. If the soil underneath the plant is constantly damp, the leaves will turn brown and begin to rot, which will necessitate some thinning on your part, but any gaps than are created by cleaning up the dying leaves will soon be filled in by new growth.
They don't need water often, only requiring additional moisture when the ground has been significantly dry for an extended period of time. An extremely drought tolerant plant, they do best in full to part sun, but they can be planted in shade as well, so long as the soil drains well and doesn't waterlog the roots, which can cause root rot.
Lamb's Ear does best in dry climates, as the leaves can trap moisture and begin to decompose if they stay wet for too long, which will detract from the beauty of the landscaping, and attract bugs you don't want.
You can grow more Lamb's Ear this through dividing your plants, or you can grow them through seeds. The plant will drop its own seeds if you already have one, but you can also purchase seeds here through Amazon.
4. Brass Button
Brass button, named for the yellow blossoms it sprouts occasionally, is a gorgeous, extremely durable border plant, exceptional at filling in cracks, and more than capable of tolerating foot traffic from people and pets. Most closely resembling a fern, it usually stops growing once it hits a height of between four to six inches at maximum, though it is often smaller, and around seven inches in width per plant.
Brass button spreads quickly by establishing a wide root network, then sending greenery up through the soil to get the sun it needs. Since so much of the plant is housed underground, it can tolerate lots of foot traffic and abuse to its leaves, making it perfect for walking areas in your landscaping and yard. Because it spreads so quickly and grows such thick root systems, it can choke out other plants that aren't well established, so take care where you plant it.
This specific perennial will do just fine in almost any type of soil, so long as it gets enough moisture. Brass Button needs moist conditions to thrive. It will do well in a variety of climates, but if you plant it in a particularly hot area, make sure that it doesn't receive full sun all day, as that can dry it out.
Since the plant is so close to the ground, you don't need to worry about deadheading the blossoms once they have died, as they will quickly fall off and disappear, but you can go over it with a lawnmower if the height begins to bother you.
To start it off, you can either purchase Brass Button plants from the store, or here from Amazon.
5. Sedum "Baby's Tears"
Baby's Tears are an adorable little succulent that makes a very low, attractive green carpet wherever you plant it. Not only can it handle some foot traffic, but it's also a more deer-resistant plant, and it's delicate white spring and summer blooms are loved by several species of butterflies, which makes them perfect for spicing up your landscape.
Its succulent "leaves" are smooth and teardrop-shaped, giving a unique texture to your flowerbed. Ranging from silvery green in the spring and summer, with a possibility of red in the fall depending on the specific strain you purchase, there's no part of this plant that will disappoint. It's an evergreen plant, which means it will keep it's color in the winter months, giving you spring cheer year-round.
As long as the soil it's planted in has decent drainage to prevent root rot, Baby's Tears will do well in almost any kind of soil, making it perfect in baskets, on rock walls, or a border or edging to be used in landscaping. It generally grows no higher than four inches tall, and has a horizontal spread of about twelve inches per plant, making it the perfect low maintenance ground cover.
It is a succulent but should be watered thoroughly around once a week, and more often than that if you live in a particularly hot environment, or in a pot.
To grow them, they can either be propagated or grown from seeds, which can be purchased here on Amazon. They aren't as drought tolerant when they're young, so make sure they're well established before you start slacking off on their watering.
6. Creeping Jenny
Creeping Jenny, or Moneywort, is a very quick growing creeper, so fast in fact, that it's classified as invasive in certain parts of the world, so make sure and check to make sure it's legal to plant in your area before you make it part of your yard.
It's rounded, yellow-green leaves make it perfect for bringing a soft feel to harsh lines your garden may have. Creeping Jenny will do very well in a wide variety of soils, from poor, more acidic soil, to the more marshy end of the spectrum, making it perfect for a number of different kinds of landscaping and soils.
It can reach a maximum height of eight inches and will spread horizontally to fill an impressively large area. When planting, keep them about 18-24 inches apart, as they will have no problems filling the space in-between.
It will do fine in the sun as long as it's not too hot, but if you live in an area or climate where the sun is always out AND the temperature is always high, you're going to want to plant in partial shade, so the plant has relief during the afternoon. Creeping Jenny needs to stay moist, so plant it in an area that will get watered more frequently, and give it some mulch that will help the area around it retain moisture.
You can buy one that's potted and ready to go here from Amazon.
7. Hens and Chicks
Hen and Chicks are a personal favorite of mine. Coming in a variety of colors and tints, they add a very visually pleasing and unique aspect to your flowerbed.
Hen and Chicks are just cute, there's no other way to put it. They got their name from the way they spread. The "hen" is the main, generally the largest, rosette. The "chicks" are the smaller rosettes that grow around the larger one, sprouting from its root system.
Hen and chicks will do very well in poor soil, you don't have to give too much thought to the quality of the dirt you plant it in, as long as it doesn't retain moisture. It will do well in several different kinds of locations, from rocks walls to the dirt in your flowerbed, as long as it has room to spread. Hen and Chicks in a small pot will grow, but since they are a "root heavy" plant, it will eventually choke itself out and start rotting.
They are succulents, so they'll do fine going without water for periods of time, and they need lots of sun to thrive. You can clip the chicks from the runner underground to propagate it and make it the new "hen". Occasionally the hen, or the biggest rosette, will send up a tall flower, which is a sign that the rosette may be about to die. There may be something nutritionally wrong with the plant, or it may be getting too much water.
You can buy some already established "Hen and Chicks" here on Amazon.
One of our taller options for border plants, marigolds come in a very wide variety of colors and sizes, with options growing from half a meter to three feet tall. Tagetes patula, or the "Dwarf Marigold", grows to about a foot and a half tall, in mounds that generally grow wider than they do tall, which is what makes them such a great border plant.
Marigolds are so easy to grow that they are often the flowers that are used to teach small children how to grow plants in kindergarten classes. The seeds don't need any light to germinate, and they can handle heat exceptionally well.
Certain types of marigold are classified as perennials, while others are classified as annuals, so if you're looking for something that will keep coming back, make sure you do your research before you make your purchase. In addition to that, certain types of marigolds will spread so quickly that they are classified as noxious weeds, so make sure you aren't planting something that could get you in trouble.
Marigolds, regardless of the specific species, generally come in bright, warm colors, perfect for adding a spark to your landscaping. Marigolds will do very well in poor, well-draining soil, with their foliage seeming to prefer it.
Marigold seeds planted outside in moist soil and under full sun will sprout within several days and will continue to grow at a fast pace. Water marigolds only when the soil is very thoroughly dry, and water them deeply.
You can buy marigold seeds to start here on Amazon!
While many kinds of lobelia grow fairly tall, lobelia erinus, also known as edging lobelia or trailing lobelia, grows long and low, making it absolutely perfect for making borders in your flowerbed, or as a gorgeous, blue-flowered addition to your landscape.
Lobelia prefers cool weather, which means they will continue to grow and bloom as the season begins to cool down when other plants have already faded fro the season.
Trailing lobelia prefers to be planted in the sun, but it can do well in partial shade as well. Water them often enough to keep the soil moist, but not soggy. They will do best in nutrient-rich soil, so thoroughly. This will also keep the plant itself from rotting due to constant contact with wet soil.
Planting trailing lobelia in your flowerbed will give a beautiful cascading effect, with the blue flowers sure to catch the eyes of the people who walk by. Since they only grow three to six inches tall, they make a perfect ground cover and are fairly easy to grow. Spread a layer of seeds over a patch of well-lit soil, cover them with a shallow layer of dirt, water them well, and you should see them start to sprout within several weeks.
You can buy seeds here from Amazon!
Dianthus are probably one of the more complicated border plants on the list, requiring a little more care as well as being slightly pickier when it comes to soil.
Dianthus is a gorgeous option for a border plant, with grassy looking foliage, and serrated, papery blossoms that come in a variety of different colors, depending on the strain you plant.
Dianthus will do best when planted in rich, non-acidic soil, but will do perfectly fine in normal soil that has been treated with fertilizer. They will grow best in full sun, with plenty of water, so long as the soil has a chance to dry out between each watering.
If you're wanting to encourage more blooms, make sure you deadhead the blossoms as they die off. Doing this will also prevent them from self-seeding. They can be trimmed down to ground level at the end of each growing season, and have a good chance of growing back the next spring.
You can grow them from sprouts purchased at the store, or seeds, which you can purchase here on Amazon.
These plants are perfect for these window boxes!
A popular choice for the borders of walkways and paths, impatiens usually comes in soft pastel colors, but can come in brighter oranges and pinks. With soft, rounded petals, and slightly serrated leaves, they are extremely pleasing to look at and go well with a large variety of other greenery.
Impatiens is another gorgeous example of a border plant that does better in a more shaded, well-watered area. They grow in small mounds that grow to fill the space around them. If you plant them too close together, they will grow taller, so make sure you plant them at least a foot apart if you want to keep their height down.
Rich, moist soil that drains well is an absolute necessity for impatiens, and they need part shade to full shade in order to thrive. They are very sensitive to heat and lack of moisture and will wilt fairly quickly if they dry out.
When it comes to propagating, these flowers do a great job all on their own, spreading whenever the flowers dry out and drop their seeds. Impatiens can be propagated by taking cuttings from a plant and either soaking them in water or planting them directly into moist soil. This method will take several weeks to a month for the cuttings to root, and they have a high chance of taking root and not dying off.
You can also plant them from seeds, which you can purchase here, from Amazon.
12. Wax Begonia
When it comes to border plants, you're probably looking for Wax Begonias. They spread to fill the space you're trying to cover, and are fairly easy to take care of. With delicate, rounded blossoms and shiny pointed leaves, they're sure to be a jewel in your landscape.
Plant your begonias moist soil that drains well, in a location that receives sun for part of the day, but is shaded during the hottest afternoon hours. They won't do well in constant full sun or dry soil, so make sure they get watered once the soil has dried. They're a deer-resistant plant, which makes them perfect for more rural areas.
Some people have success with rooting begonia stems in water, so that's certainly something you can try. However, you'd have a much better chance of ending up with a healthy plant if you purchase an already established begonia from the store, or start it from seed which you can purchase from Amazon here.
13. Creeping Phlox
Phlox is a gorgeous creeping plant that will give you an almost unbroken carpet of flowers in a variety of colors, from reds and pinks to blues and purples. They are perfect for ground cover, cascading down rock walls, and hanging baskets.
Featuring five-point star-shaped blossoms in dense pockets, the flowers are definitely the focus of this plant, not the green foliage, which is nothing special. The stems will actually become harder and begin to resemble wood as they age. Those should be cut away as this happens, as it encourages the plant to grow fresh, new stems with more flowers.
Phlox needs to be planted in full to part sun, in soil that will remain moist, but not soggy, as this can cause root rot. Where growth is concerned, it's a very hardy plant, but it is susceptible to being sun-scorched if the surroundings are too hot.
This plant can be spread by division if you already have one and want to break it up throughout your flowerbed. If you do this, do it towards the end of spring once they've bloomed, so they've had time to recover from winter, but still have a good chunk of the year to re-establish themselves in their new location before the cold weather hits again. You can also purchase seeds from most stores with a gardening section or if you prefer them already established, you can purchase them here from Amazon.
14. Ornamental Thyme
Also known as "wild thyme", and "creeping thyme", this particular plant is a gorgeous border plant with a specialty in ground cover. It grows quickly and thoroughly, looking for new spots to fill as it creeps along your flowerbed or rock garden.
Wild Thyme is an evergreen plant, meaning it won't lose all its color once the cold weather hits. In the summer it becomes covered in small, gorgeous red flowers. It very rarely grows over 3 inches tall, making it perfect for a low maintenance border.
An excellent lawn substitute, wild thyme can handle moderate foot traffic and doesn't have any special soil needs. Regular, dry, sandy soil suits this plant just fine, and as long as it gets water once the top 2-3 inches of soil is dry, it will do just fine.
Wild thyme can be rooted in water or moist dirt from clippings, divided from areas that have rooted and planted in a different location. It can also be purchased already established from most nurseries or grown from seeds, which can be purchased on Amazon here.
15. Mondo Grass
Mondo Grass, contrary to its name, is not a grass, actually belonging to the lily family. Why does this matter? Because it's not an actual grass, it's evergreen, meaning it will keep its deep green color all year round, instead of just during the warm, sunny months of the year.
Mondo Grass is a slow-growing perennial that won't take over your garden while your back is turned. Its dark green leaves provide the perfect backdrop or contrast, highlighting whatever else you have planted as part of your landscape.
Mondo grass is the perfect border item to plant in the areas of your yard that get lots of shade, as they do best in the cooler, darker parts of a yard. Under trees, near bushes, or the areas near the walls of your house where the sun doesn't really have any coverage are ideal spots. Since it's not an actual grass, it doesn't need to be mowed, and it will always look full and green.
This specific border plant is extremely easy to take care of. It does need water, but if you're able to plant it in an area that will be water by an automated sprinkler system, you won't need to worry about it. It doesn't have special soil needs, and it spreads via underground runners that can be used to transplant new clumps to different areas. This gorgeous plant can be found in many nurseries or purchased here on Amazon.
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