Native ground cover

Asked April 3, 2020, 9:10 AM EDT

I am looking for a ground cover for a gentle hillside and flat area along a walkway, both under a large oak tree. They receive afternoon sunlight. The soil is not great and the conditions are often dry. I would prefer a native and evergreen plant (s). It needs to be deer resistant. I am considering pachysandra procumens. Would that work? Also what about heuchera? Thank you,

Montgomery County Maryland

1 Response

Allegheny pachysandra is a great plant. It prefers part to full shade and moderate moisture, though after it's established it can take some drought. A lot will depend upon how much sun it gets--baking all afternoon or some late afternoon, which is less intense. You can certainly try a patch.

We'd recommend that you experiment with a few different plants to see which ones are happiest. Moss phlox or phlox stolonifer may be happy. Solidago smpervirens can handle a lot of heat and drought. (Heuchera is fairly short-lived, but a possibility.)

You also might want to consider Shore juniper (evergreen) or Lowgro sumac (not evergreen).

Check out options in "Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping: Chesapeake Bay Watershed" online. It has photos and cultural requirements in an easy format. Lists are in the back.

Whatever you plant, expect to water for at least 2 years, as it will be competing big time with the tree for moisture and nutrients.