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Ground Cover Plants to Grow in Michigan – Top 10 Natives!

Ground cover plants are an invaluable addition to any landscape, offering a harmonious blend of visual appeal and environmental benefits.

These spreading and low-growing plants form a living carpet that enhances the beauty of our outdoor spaces, improves soil health, prevents erosion, and provides a habitat for local wildlife and pollinators.

With their extensive range of species, ground cover plants can be tailored to suit a wide array of environments and aesthetic preferences.

This comprehensive guide will delve into the top ground cover plants to grow in Michigan as they are ideally suited for its distinct climate.

Now, as we explore these exceptional ground cover plants, we will provide expert advice and practical tips for successfully cultivating them in Michigan’s unique weather conditions.

You can incorporate these versatile plants into your landscape to gain visual aesthetics and contribute to environmental sustainability and picturesque scenery outdoors.

Let’s begin!

Ground cover plants to grow in Michigan
Ground cover plants to grow in Michigan | Image via Maxpixel

Michigan’s Landscape and Climate | A Brief Insight!

Michigan’s unique weather, characterized by cold winters and warm summers, presents an exciting challenge to create captivating landscapes.

The state’s diverse climate, influenced by the great lakes, provides opportunities for cultivating various ground cover plants to grow in Michigan that thrive in various conditions, from sun-drenched coastal areas to shady woodland retreats.

Let’s start with our list of the top 10 ground cover plants to grow in Michigan.

Top 10 Ground Cover Plants to Grow in Michigan!

The following are some of the most popular, finest, and easy-to-plant ground cover plants to grow in Michigan landscapes.

They empower you to create a thriving, sustainable, and professionally designed outdoor space that reflects the state’s natural splendor.

1. Moss Phlox

Moss Phlox - Ground Cover Plants to Grow in Michigan
Ground cover plants to grow in Michigan | Image via Unsplash

Moss Phlox (Phlox subulata), also known as Creeping Phlox or Mountain Phlox, stands out as one of the best ground cover plants to grow in Michigan’s diverse landscapes.

  • This versatile, low-growing perennial is visually stunning, hardy, and well-adapted to the state’s unique climate.
  • Moss Phlox forms a dense mat of vibrant, needle-like foliage that bursts into a spectacular display of colorful flowers during spring.
  • The blooms come in various shades of white, pink, purple, and blue, creating a breathtaking carpet of color that enlivens any garden space.

This showy plant is perfect for rock gardens, slopes, and borders.

Beyond its visual appeal, Moss Phlox offers several benefits:

  • It can be used for controlling erosion.
  • It can be used in wooded areas.
  • It can withstand extreme temperatures.
  • It effectively suppresses weeds, reducing maintenance requirements and promoting a cleaner, more organized landscape.
  • Its ability to attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies supports local ecosystems and contributes to biodiversity.
  • It is low-maintenance and adaptable to various soil types and pH levels.

The best time to grow these Phlox is fall and early spring.

They grow the best in shade areas, and if a suitable amount of moisture is provided, they can also withstand the sun-drenched situation too.

2. Bearberry (Arctosphylos uva-ursi)

Bearberry Ground Cover Plants to Grow in Michigan
Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) or Cowberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea) – Photo © Andrew Curtis (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi), also known as Kinnikinnick or Uva-Ursi, is a standout ground cover plant that thrives in diverse landscapes, including Michigan.

  • This hardy, slow, and low-growing evergreen shrub features small, shiny, leathery dark-green leaves and spreads by forming a dense mat of trailing, red-stemmed branches.
  • Its delicate, bell-shaped flowers bloom in spring, ranging from white to pale pink, and are followed by bright red edible berries in fall that persist through winter. These berries attract birds and other wildlife, contributing to local ecosystems and biodiversity.
  • Bearberry is perfect for rock gardens, slopes, and sandy or rocky soil. Make sure the soil is fertile and acidic with good drainage.
  • These shrubs love partial shade and full sun and are drought, wind, and salt tolerant.

This plant is also minimal maintenance adding to its several advantages.

3. Three-Leaved Stonecrop

Sedum ternatum Three leaved Stonecrop Ground Cover Plants to Grow in Michigan
Sedum ternatum – Three leaved Stonecrop | Image via Wikimedia

Three-leaved Stonecrop (Sedum ternatum) emerges as one of the top ground covers plants to cultivate in Michigan’s varied landscapes.

  • They form a dense mat of succulent, green foliage that remains evergreen throughout the year, providing consistent visual interest in any garden space.
  • Charming white, star-shaped, small, rounded flowers bloom in late spring to early summer, adding a delightful touch of brightness to shaded areas.
  • This versatile plant occurs and thrives in damp settings, including stream banks, stony ledges, borders, and woodland gardens, and grows by creeping.
  • One of the significant advantages of having the Three-leaved Stonecrop is its adaptability to distinct climates.
  • It is cold hardy from zones 4 to 8, allowing it to endure the state’s chilly winters, while its shade tolerance makes it a perfect candidate for the state’s woodland areas and gardens with dappled sunlight.
  • Moreover, its drought-tolerant nature ensures that it thrives even in challenging conditions.

Hence, it is an excellent choice for gardeners seeking a robust, attractive ground cover.

4. Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum)

Wild Geranium Ground Cover Plants to Grow in Michigan
Wild geranium | Image via Flickr

Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum), also known as Spotted Geranium or Woodland Geranium, is a highly charming, low-growing perennial that is aesthetically pleasing as well as adapted to varying climates like that of Michigan.

  • Wild Geranium features deeply lobed, green leaves and produces showy, five-petaled flowers in shades of lavender, pink, or shades of blue during spring. These delightful blooms create a colorful display that adds a touch of enchantment to any garden space.
  • Wild Geranium can grow in various soil types, from sandy to loamy, as long as they are well-drained and rich in organic matter.
  • Furthermore, with sufficient moisture in the soil, these plants can withstand full and partial sunlight.
  • Wild Geranium thrives in various settings, including woodland gardens, borders, and shaded areas, where its delicate beauty can be admired.
  • These small plants grow up to form colonies, and they typically blossom in late spring to early summer.
  • The purple flowers highly complement the lush green leaves, which attract wildlife like bees which in turn help with their pollination.

That said, let’s move on to our next plant.

5. Small-Leaf Pussytoes (Antennaria parvifolia)

Small Leaf Pussytoes Ground Cover Plants to Grow in Michigan
Small-Leaf Pussytoes – Ground Cover Plants to Grow in Michigan

Small leaf pussytoes are one of the most unusual and rare ground cover plants.

  • They feature white to grayish foliage and are characterized by clusters of fluffy white flower heads on reddish stem spikes. The flowers’ pussytoes-like shape is presumably the reason behind the name of this perennial plant.
  • Antennaria parvifolia can bear different light levels, like full sunlight, partial shade, and full shade.
  • These plants can be planted in borders, rock gardens, and rocky gardens.
  • The soil preference is usually loamy, sandy, or clayey.

Now, for our next one.

6. Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

Purple Coneflower Ground Cover Plants to Grow in Michigan
Purple Coneflower – Ground Cover Plants to Grow in Michigan | Image via Pxfuel

Widely famous for its impeccable health properties, Purple coneflower is a beautiful ground cover plant that will surely thrive in any Michigan backyard.

  • Aside from its benefits, Echinacea purpurea displays one of the most stunning flowers with an attractive pinkish-purple color and drop-petal style, along with a big brownish disk in the middle.
  • These flowers bloom from mid-spring to early fall, and their vibrant colors attract a lot of pollinators; some birds happily feed on the seeds from the center disks.
  • Since this plant is a very low-maintenance perennial plant, it can thrive in various kinds of soils like loamy and clayey, but the soil should be rich in nutrients and well-drained.
  • Make sure to plant it in a partially shady spot.

Next, we have the Rough blazing star.

7. Rough Blazing Star (Liatris aspera)

Rough Blazing Star Liatris aspera Ground Cover Plants to Grow in Michigan
Rough Blazing Star (Liatris aspera) – Ground Cover Plants to Grow in Michigan | Image via Pexels

Liatris aspera, commonly known as the Rough blazing star, is an excellent ground cover plant to grow in Michigan.

  • It grows in the shape of tall and slim spike-like stalks adorned with rough bracts and rounded purple flowers.
  • Because of its tall flower-laden spikes, it is sometimes called the Tall blazing star.
  • Rough blazing star transition beautifully from summer to fall, mesmerizing admirers, and so this is one of the most popular gayfeather plants.
  • Its advantages include its drought-resistant nature and its ability to thrive in dry soil moisture.
  • These plants can be planted in full sun and produce nectar for pollinators.

That’s all for this one.

8. European Wild Ginger

European Wild Ginger - Ground Cover Plants to Grow in Michigan
European Wild Ginger – Ground Cover Plants to Grow in Michigan

One of the main reasons why European wild ginger is well-suited for Michigan gardens is its adaptability to the state’s climate.

  • It is cold hardy, allowing it to withstand chilly winters, and its shade tolerance makes it perfect for areas with limited sunlight or partial shade.
  • This low-growing perennial with a height of 5–6 inches features glossy, heart-shaped, lush green leaves followed by bell-like flowers that bloom from spring to early summer and look aesthetically pleasing to the eyes.
  • Its evergreen foliage maintains its vibrant green color throughout the year, ensuring your garden remains visually appealing even during the colder months.
  • Wild ginger can thrive in diverse types of soils like clay, loamy, and chalky. All you have to do is ensure the soil is well drained, and its pH should be slightly acidic.
  • You can grow these low-maintenance perennials on slopes, banks, and in rocky and woodland gardens.
  • In addition, these plants attract colorful butterflies, so they are eco-friendly.

Watch out for snails and slugs, as they can ruin the leaves!

9. White Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

White Yarrow - Ground Cover Plants to Grow in Michigan
White Yarrow – Ground Cover Plants to Grow in Michigan | Image via Wallpaperflare

White Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), also known as Common yarrow, is a suitable ground cover plant for Michigan due to its hardiness, visual appeal, and ecological benefits.

  • This perennial herbaceous plant can grow 2–3 inches in height and boasts feathery, fern-like foliage, producing clusters of tiny white and off-white flowers on a disease-resistant stem creating an eye-catching display during the summer months. These flowers are aromatic as well as long-lasting.
  • White Yarrow is a low-maintenance plant, requiring minimal care once established.
  • Its ability to withstand drought and poor soil conditions makes it a suitable choice for both novice and experienced Michigan gardeners looking for an easy-to-grow ground cover option.
  • These plants can be grown in various soils like chalk, loam, and sand, along with varying soil pH from acidic to neutral, if they are moist but well-drained.
  • Finally, they have low water needs and can be exposed to partial and complete sunlight.

And for our final plant, we have the Tall Coreopsis.

10. Tall Coreopsis (Coreopsis tripteris)

Tall Coreopsis Ground Cover Plants to Grow in Michigan
Tall Coreopsis – Ground Cover Plants to Grow in Michigan

Tall Coreopsis, scientifically known as Coreopsis tripterous, appear like sunflowers because of their vibrant and bright yellow color.

  • They feature eight (rounded and untoothed at the ends) petals per flower with a flat brownish-black middle disk. These flowers do not arch and can grow as tall as 3–9 feet on slender, erect stems.
  • The plant is full of green foliage, and its leaves are shaped like a narrow lance and bloom from late summer till fall.
  • These flowering plants thrive naturally in moist, damp areas, so they should be planted in moist soil. However, they can also survive in dry sands once settled enough.
  • Regarding sunlight provision, Tall Coreopsis prefers shady spots and nutritious well-drained soil.
  • These plants can be planted in meadows, gardens, and prairies.

They are disease resistant, as well as extremely low maintenance. Under the right conditions, they grow fast by sprawling.

Key Factors to Consider When Choosing Ground Cover Plants!

When selecting a ground cover plant to grow in your garden or backyard, one should consider some essential factors.

Following are some points to ponder upon:

  • Climate: Make sure to search well before planting your perennials. Look if the plant you have selected can survive in the climate you live in.
  • Shade and Sunlight Tolerance: Different ground cover plants have different shade requirements. Seed your plant by carefully choosing an area where its shade requirements are fulfilled.
  • Water Requirements: Ground cover plants have specific water requirements. Some thrive in moist soil and need water regularly, while others can continue without water for extended periods.
  • Preferred Soil Type: Carefully choose your plant according to the soil of the spot you will plant it in. If your soil is moist, clayey, and has a poor drainage system, pick out plants that thrive in such conditions. While if your spot is sandy and dry, choose the ones with drought-resistant abilities.
  • Time of Year: While choosing a plant, observe your location’s weather and the plant’s requirements. If the weather gets freezing during winter and extremely hot during summer, choose the right time accordingly.

That’s all for today.

Let’s move toward the conclusion.


In conclusion, Michigan’s diverse climate and landscapes offer a rich tapestry of opportunities for gardeners to explore and incorporate ground cover plants into their outdoor spaces.

The combination of hardy, adaptable, and visually appealing plants, such as European Wild Ginger, Pussytoes, and many others, creates stunning, low-maintenance gardens that thrive in the state’s unique conditions.

By embracing the beauty and versatility of these ground cover plants, Michigan gardeners can cultivate breathtaking landscapes that enhance their surroundings, contribute to local ecosystems, and promote biodiversity.

Michigan’s world of ground cover plants is a testament to nature’s endless creativity and resilience, inviting all who venture into it to discover its vibrant colors, textures, and forms.

That said, I hope you found today’s article helpful.

Happy gardening!