Blog & News

Key word: Groundcover! (archive)

Published on Wednesday December 24, 2014
Authored by PEIISC

Growing groundcovers can be a challenge in an unexpected way!

They are usually easy to grow and are intended to suppress the weeds in our gardens – that’s why we like them. But… sometimes they grow a little too well and end up taking over – they can be invasive!

Not every groundcover is invasive but there are some that should be avoided…

Vinca minor is one of those groundcovers to avoid. It is on the invasive plant list of many provinces and states.

Its commom names are: periwinkle, lesser periwinkle, dwarf periwinkle, small periwinkle, common periwinkle, myrtle or creeping myrtle, blue periwinkle, Flower-of-Death

Vinca is an evergreen groundcover which grows in a wide variety of conditions, suppresses weed growth and is not bothered by many pests. This makes it an attractive plant for gardeners to grow… BUT it’s aggressive growth habit means that it spreads quickly and can take over your garden. Worse yet, if it escapes into a natural area it can quickly take over, displacing native plants and animals.

If you have Vinca in your garden and want to get rid of it… make sure that it is disposed of properly as every small fragment of its rhizomes (underground stem) or above-ground stems can potentially take root and form a new plant.

Check out the IWMC interactive sorting guide for instructions on how to dispose of invasive plants…

Many garden centers still sell Vinca but that doesn’t mean it’s a good choice to grow… a bit of research on the plants we grow in our gardens can save us a lot of work, since getting rid of these invasive plants, once they are established, is not easy.

Other invasive groundcovers that are on the PEIISC invasive plant list are: goutweed, ajuga (bugleweed), common oregano, common thyme (Thymus vulgaris), lily-of-the-valley (ornamental variety), creeping jenny (moneywort). Check out our invasive plant list at:


Choosing native or non-invasive alternatives can make your gardening much more enjoyable.

Here are a few native plants that act as groundcovers and you may be able to purchase in a garden center or at Macphail Woods. You can check out their website at:

  • Wintergreen or Teaberry, Gaultheria hispidula; Creeping snowberry, Gaultheria procumbens – both in the Ericaceae family (Heaths). Both are native. I have seen Gaultheria sold in nurseries at times.
  • Bearberry, also called kinnikinnick , Arctostaphylos uva-ursi is native. Likes sun but is tolerant of part shade. Sometimes sold in garden centers.
  • Dutchman’s breeches, Dicentra cucullaria. May not be an aggressive groundcover but does spread.
  • Bluebead lily, Clintonia borealis.
  • Bunchberry, Cornus canadensis.
  • Yellow violet, Viola pubescens.
  • A non-traditional ground cover… ostrich fern is an amazing tall ground cover or false solomon’s seal. Both fill in spaces nicely the false solomon’s seal and beautiful berries in the fall.

Happy Gardening!

Attached images:

Periwinkle flowering stem
Periwinkle flower
Periwinkle flowering stem
Vinca minor escapee – Strathgartney Park woodlands. Photo by Emily Adams