Ground covers, Perennials
These low growers from Europe are useful, adaptable plants that form a solid foliage carpet and bloom from spring to early summer. Plant in well-drained soils. The highly variable A. reptans is better known and more tolerant of poor soils; it will escape into lawns unless contained.
This popular groundcover spreads quickly by runners, making a mat of dark green leaves in the basic species. Each oval to tongue-shaped leaf is 2–3 in. wide in full sun, to 4 in. wide in part shade; the entire foliage mass tops out at around 4 in. high. Blue flowers in 6-in. spikes appear in spring and early summer. Plant 1 ft. apart in spring or early fall. Mow or trim off old flower spikes. Subject to root rots and fungal diseases where drainage or air circulation is poor.
Many varieties of this species are available, some sold under several names. The following are among the best choices; all have blue flowers unless otherwise noted. Varieties with bronzy or metallic-looking leaves keep their color best in sun.
‘Alba’. White-blooming form.
‘Atropurpurea’ (‘Purpurea’). Bronze-tinted green leaves.
‘Black Scallop’. Blackish purple foliage with scalloped edges.
‘Burgundy Glow’ (‘Burgundy Lace’). Reddish purple foliage variegated with white and pink.
‘Catlin’s Giant’. Large, bronzy green leaves and flower spikes to 8 in. tall.
‘Chocolate Chip’ (‘Valfredda’). Narrow, chocolate brown leaves on a slow-growing dwarf plant.
‘Giant Bronze’. Deep metallic bronze leaves are larger, more vigorous, and crisper than in basic species. Grows to 6 in. high in sun, 9 in. high in part shade.
‘Giant Green’. Like ‘Giant Bronze’ but with bright green leaves.
‘Jungle Beauty’. Clumps of large, rounded, wavy-edged, bronze-toned leaves; flower spikes to 10 in. high.
‘Multicolor’ (‘Rainbow’). Leaves are green blended with white and pinkish purple.
‘Rosea’. Pink blossoms.
‘Variegata’. Dense, slow grower with gray-green leaves edged and splashed with creamy yellow.
Botanically speaking, violas, pansies, and almost all violets are perennials belonging to the genus
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