These low-growing ground covers and rock garden plants from Europe offer both handsome foliage and showy flowers; both leaves and blossoms come in several different colors. Bloom runs from spring through early summer. Most types spread quickly to form mats. Easy to divide at any time of year. Good drainage is essential to avoid crown rot. Plants are not browsed by deer.
- Rock garden plant 514 inches high, 112 feet wide; does not spread by runners.
- Grayish, hairy stems and coarse-toothed leaves to 3 inches long.
- Blue flowers in spikes.
- Pink Beauty and 'Alba' offer color choices.
- Erect plant 210 inches high, 1 2 feet wide; does not spread by runners.
- Stems have long grayish hairs, are set with many roundish, 2- to 4 inches-long leaves.
- Violet-blue flowers are not obvious among the large leaves.
- Metallica Crispa has reddish brown leaves with a metallic glint.
- This popular form spreads rapidly by runners, making a mat of dark green leaves in the basic species.
- Each oval to tongue-shaped leaf is 23 inches wide in full sun, to 4 inches wide in shade; entire foliage mass tops out at around 4 inches high.
- Blue flowers in 6 inches spikes appear in spring.
- Plant 1 feet apart in spring or early fall.
- Subject to root rots and fungal diseases where drainage or air circulation is poor.
- Mow or trim off old flower spikes.
Many selections are available, and some are sold under several names. The following are among the better choices; all have blue flowers unless otherwise noted. Selections with bronzy or metallic-looking leaves keep their color best in sun.
- White-blooming form.
- Blackish purple foliage with scalloped edges.
- Vigorous ground cover of small, dark leaves and blue flowers on spikes up to 6 inches Comparable to 'Chocolate Chip' but spreads faster.
- Bronze foliage, a fast spreader.
- ('Burgundy Lace').
- Reddish purple foliage variegated with white and pink.
Catlin's Giant'. Large, bronzy green leaves; flower spikes to 8 inches tall.
- Narrow, chocolate-brown leaves on a slow-growing dwarf plant.
- Toffee Chip was a mutation and is similar in every way, except leaves are cream and green.
- Clumps of large, rounded, wavy-edged, bronze-toned leaves; flower spikes to 810 inches high.
- Large-leafed form with green foliage.
- Less mounded than 'Jungle Beauty'.
- Bright green form with white flowers that is slow to spread.
- Leaves are green blended with white and pinkish purple.
- Pink blooms, white-edged, gray-green leaves.
- This variegated form has splotches of white on a green leaf, more striated than others.