Low-Growing Perennials for Sun: Borders, Pathways, and Filling in Gaps

Low-growing perennials are a great way to fill in spaces in your garden, create borders around flower beds or walkways, and add colour and life to any landscape. 

These perennial plants are typically easy to care for, and many of them grow quickly, making them a perfect choice for busy homeowners or those who don’t have a lot of time to spend on gardening.

In addition to this, they can be grown along the sides of other plants or in between and around them, giving a more complete appearance to the garden while also closing up unsightly gaps. 

Low-growing perennials come in a variety of colours, shapes, and sizes, so there’s sure to be one that’s perfect for your needs.

In this article, we will discuss some of the best low-growing perennials for use in different parts of your garden. All of these low-growing perennials have a height of fewer than 16 inches:

low growing perennials snippet image

Table of Contents


Sweet alyssum, also known as Alison owing to its strong, sweet aroma and carpet of snow for its swaths of tiny white blooms, is a tiny and attractive, easy-to-grow summer blooming hardy annual that goes by many names: sweet alyssum or Alison because of its rich scent. There are pink and purple-flowered varieties, as well as whites, with the flowers most often produced in such abundance that the thin lance-shaped green leaves are barely visible.

Alyssum is a perennial herb with tiny, compact, and spreading growth habits that grow to a maximum height of 4 inches and a width of 6 inches. Alyssum flowers are attractive to pollinating insects, making them an excellent edging plant for vegetable gardens.

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Barrenwort (Epimedium grandiflorum)

The Barrenwort bloom is not very large, but its shape is so unusual that you can’t help but like it. It’s commonly known as Fairy Wings, and the elegant flowers don’t disappoint. They aren’t particularly huge, yet their form is so distinctive that you can’t resist them.

Barrenwort flowers resemble tiny brightly coloured spiders dangling from a thread, clinging to the delicate, wiry stems. The petals part and spread out, giving them the appearance of legs or wings.

The blooms are spectacular, but they only live a short time. But it simply implies that when the flowers are in bloom, you should take the time to appreciate them fully.

In terms of interest, the leaves are heart-shaped and deep green or burgundy, depending on the variety. Barrenwort plants reach a height of 8-12 inches in total and require some shade. They’re drought-resistant, deer and rabbit resistant, and make wonderful shade garden perennials. Hardy to zones 4 through 8.

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Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)

Bearberry is a low-growing native evergreen plants thrive in places where other plants can’t establish. Try growing Bearberry if you have a place where other plants fail to develop owing to poor soil or excessive shade. This little native evergreen bush grows well in locations where other plants cannot thrive.

This plant is a modest plant with attractive dark green glossy leaves and crimson stems. The small white pink bell-shaped flowers that dangle from the stems in the spring are like little small shaped lanterns.

After blooming, tiny red edible berries develop, providing a crucial food source for animals and birds. The plant’s foliage changes to a stunning crimson-purple colour in the winter, adding interest to the garden all year round.

Bearberry is an attractive ground cover that can be used to line walkways or cover rock walls. It’s also resistant to cold temperatures, which makes it ideal for use in outdoor settings. Hardy to zones 2-6.

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Dusty Miller (Jacobaea maritima)

Dusty Miller leaves are small, translucent, silvery, and somewhat fuzzy. The leaves feel like delicate wool and resemble tiny deer antlers.

Dusty Miller plants are also known for their delicate beauty and subtle aroma. Because they detract from the beautiful foliage display, many gardeners remove the tiny yellow or white blooms. Dusty Miller plants provide a soothing feel to the environment, lowering the brightness of brighter hues while still allowing them to be seen.

The foliage of this perennial is a beautiful counterpoint to the vibrant blooming belles. It neither detracts from the colourful bloomers nor gets lost in the shadows. Dusty Miller plants offer their own intriguing exhibition that serves as an excellent backdrop or contrast for darker, more powerful blooms. Hardy to zones 8-11.

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Eastern Pasque Flower (Pulsatilla patens)

The Pasque Flower, which blooms early in the spring, is a lovely bloomer that adds colour to the garden with its solitary blue, white, or purple bell-shaped petals. The arrival of this perennial flower as an early food source is appreciated by bees and butterflies after the harshness of winter.

The Prostrate Pasque Flower grows up to 3 feet tall, although the greatest specimens rarely exceed 12 inches. The wonderful sweetness of the petals is complemented by a bright yellow central stamen that stands out. Every blossom sits on a slender green stem, but they sprout in clusters to create a breathtaking multi-coloured spectacle. Zones 4-7.

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Flowering Thyme

Flowering thyme is a mature thyme plant that has reached the flowering stage. Thyme grows like a tiny shrub, growing to be about eight inches tall. The branched and woody stems grow close together, with the tops of the stems being more delicate than the bottoms.

The leaves are tiny, just a few millimetres in length, and grow in pairs along the stems at intervals. The flowers bloom close to the stem, tucked among the leaves. They are usually purple but may be pink or white depending on the type. Flowering thyme’s delicate purple blooms have an oleaceous aroma with undertones of mint.

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Foamflower (Tiarella sp.)

The foliage of this low-growing perennial is what attracts the most attention, although it also bears interesting and beautiful foamy flowers. Foamflower foliage is green with dark burgundy or black markings and resembles a heart, oak leaf, or star shape.

The majority of Foamflower plants don’t grow higher than 1 foot tall, and there are many cultivars to select from, with a variety of leaf forms and variegation. On stems above the foliage, the flowers appear in early spring; the flower’s airy beauty is reminiscent of clouds or mounds of foam.

The extraordinary foliage maintains its brilliant hue all year, and it can even turn a deeper hue in the winter. Foamflowers thrive in shaded areas and make excellent under plants for taller shrubs and perennials. Hardy to zones 4 through 9.

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Moss Phlox (Phlox subulata)

Moss Phlox (Phlox subulata) is a beautiful low-growing perennial that can be used in a variety of ways in the garden. It grows quickly, typically reaching a height of between 3 and 6 inches, and has delicate pink flowers that bloom throughout the spring and summer.

This plant is perfect for filling in gaps in garden borders or between other plants, and it also does well in containers or as a groundcover. It’s an easy plant to care for, and it thrives in sunny areas. Moss Phlox boasts a unique hue that makes it stand out against the earth’s other colours. Even when it is not flowering, this low-growing perennial adds beauty and intrigue to the scene.

There are many different kinds of Phlox, including Creeping Phlox (P.stolenifera) and Garden Phlox (P.paniculata). Moss Phlox is the shortest variety, so look for one that grows to a maximum height of 24 inches.

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Perennial Pinks (Dianthus sp.)

If you’ve ever seen Pinks on a springtime lawn, you’ll understand our affection for this delicate and colourful bloom. Perennial-Pinks, also known as Dianthus, are low-growing, low-maintenance garden gems. It is simple to fill the garden with Perennial Pinks and be perfectly happy with the outcome because there are so many cultivars to choose from. Colours for these tiny 1-2″ blooms range from pink (of course!) to white, purple, red, and even black, but the real stars are the multi-colour sorts with vividly contrasting colour schemes.

They’re a charming member of the carnation family, with frilly garden edges and many blooms. Their dainty frilly-edged petals go great with their plentiful production. The bright pink leaves are low-key and Japanese forest grass-like, allowing the beautiful flowers to shine. Pinks are generally 6-12 inches tall and have a sweet clove scent.

Most varieties have a faint fragrance, although many of them contain at least some perfume. We may write a tome on the Pinks we love, but here are our top six: “Georgia Peach Pie,” “Coconut Punch,” “Pinball Wizard,” “Fire and Ice,” “Superstar,” and “White Fire.” Zone 4-8 is where most Dianthus can withstand cold weather.

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Pussytoes (Antennaria plantaginifolia)

Pussytoes (Antennaria plantaginifolia) is a low-growing perennial that is perfect for use in areas that receive full sun. This plant has hairy leaves and grows to a height of 6-12 inches. The flowers are small and white, and they bloom from April to May. Pussytoes flowers aren’t particularly eye-catching, yet birds and butterflies still find them appealing.

Pussytoes are a great choice for those seeking for a basic, low-maintenance, and yet attractive groundcover. Pussytoes are drought-resistant, thrive in moist soil, require little maintenance, and rarely suffer pests or disease.

The eastern United States is home to this Pussytoes species; another lovely native option from the west is Small-Leaf Pussytoes (A.parvifolia). Zones 3-8 are suitable for it.

Pussytoes (Antennaria plantaginifolia)

Rose Vervain (Glandularia canadensis)

Rose Vervain is a low-growing spreading perennial with beautiful blue-purple blooms that are often known as verbena. Rose Vervain produces flat clusters of tiny brightly coloured five-petaled flowers that dangle above the leaves.

This native plant, which is blooming at this time of year, attracts a slew of butterflies and bees with its brilliant colour display. The dark green leaves are deeply lobed and make an excellent backdrop for the brilliant flowers.

Rose Vervain is a perennial vine that may grow up to 18 inches tall and blooms in spring or summer. It looks fantastic in clusters or along the flower border, and it benefits from a wide range of growing situations. Zones 5-9 are suitable.

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Stonecrop (Sedum sp.)

There are so many different varieties and species of Stonecrop that it’s tough to know where to begin. The majority of these perennial plants are shorter than 6 feet tall, although some varieties reach up to 10 inches in height. Attractive thick succulent leaves with small five-petaled rosette flowers adorn all of them. Ground-hugging perennials that produce a carpet of green or blue-green foliage when in bloom, stonecrop is ideal for use as a groundcover, edging, and in rock gardens.

It thrives in containers and is easy to cultivate. Choose a native species, such as Broadleaf Stonecrop (S.spathulifolium), which has silvery green leaves and bright yellow blooms. Wild Stonecrop (S.ternatum) is native to eastern North America and has light-green leaves with numerous star-shaped brilliant white flowers.

Wormleaf Stonecrop (S.stenopetalum) grows in western North America and has light-green leaves speckled with golden dots that have deep yellow petals. It’s also known as the golden constellation plant because of the abundant bright yellow flowers shaped like a star.

The western North American Spearleaf Stonecrop (S.lanceolatum) is the food plant for the Rocky Mountain Apollo butterfly while Spreading Stonecrop (Samoropsis divergens) is a native species from western North America with deep red succulent leaves and exceptionally vivid yellow flowers that stand out strikingly against the greenery.

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Sedum ‘Dragon’s Blood’

Dragon’s blood Sedum, also known as Schorbuser Blut, Phedimus spurius ‘Dragon’s Blood,’ and other names, is a cultivar of Sedum spurium. The term “Dragon’s Blood” can be used to describe any of the red spuriums, although they are distinct cultivars.

This plant, which is known as Dragon’s blood in the United States, was developed in Germany and sold under the trade name of ‘Schorbuser Blut. It looks wonderful all year round and has all of the characteristics of other green roof spuriums – exceptional drought tolerance, hardiness to heat and cold, thick leaves, bright blooms, and winter rosettes.

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Woolly Yarrow (Achillea tomentosa)

Woolly Yarrow (Achillea tomentosa) is a low-growing perennial that can be found in almost every state in the United States. The leaves of this yarrow are densely covered in woolly white hairs, which gives the plant its common name.

The flowers of Woolly Yarrow are small and yellow and bloom from May to September. This yarrow is a great choice for those who are looking for a plant that is drought-tolerant and requires little maintenance.

Woolly Yarrow does best in full sun and well-drained soil. It is tolerant of a wide range of growing conditions and can be used in gardens, borders, and containers.

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People Also Ask

What is the smallest perennial?

Moss Phlox is the shortest form, so look for it instead if you want a real groundcover perennial. Creeping Phlox is usually not overly tall, reaching between 12 and 24 inches (30-60 cm).

What small plants do well in full sun?

There are many small plants that do well in full sun, including:

  • Sedum
  • Stonecrop
  • Broadleaf Stonecrop
  • Wild Stonecrop
  • Wormleaf Stonecrop
  • Spearleaf Stonecrop
  • Spreading Stonecrop

When should I plant perennials?

The best time to plant perennials is in the spring or fall. Spring-planted perennials will usually start blooming in late spring or early summer, while fall-planted perennials will bloom in mid to late summer. If you’re planting a new garden, it’s best to wait until spring so that the plants have a chance to establish themselves before winter.

planting perennials in autumn

What is the easiest perennial to grow?

  1. Bearded Iris.
  2. Black-Eyed Susan.
  3. Coreopsis.
  4. Daylily.
  5. Hosta
  6. Lily.
  7. Peony.
  8. Purple Coneflower.
  9. Salvia.
  10. Sedum.

What are hardy perennials?

If a perennial plant is called ‘Hardy Perennial,’ it should withstand average low winter temperatures and return each year for several years. In its first year, a ‘Hardy Biennial’ will develop a robust root and leaf system, survive the typical winter, flower, set seed, and then die in its second year.

Do any perennials bloom all summer?

From early summer to late fall, the flowers will be daisy-like red, orange, or yellow. The purple cone perennial flower is a beautiful bloomer with delicate drooping purple petals that blossom abundantly for two to three months during the summer.

perennials in summer

What garden plants grow back every year?

Perennials are the stalwarts of our garden borders, providing brilliant blooms in the garden year after year. Perennials are plants that live more than two years and have a Latin name that means “through the years.

How do you tell an annual from a perennial?

Annuals and perennials are two types of plants that must be taken care of differently. Annuals live for only one growing season and then die, whereas perennials endure year after year. Perennial flowers generally bloom more slowly than annual blooms, so it’s typical for gardeners to use a blend of both plants in their yard. We’ll go through the differences between these two kinds of vegetation below.

When should I plant perennials?

Perennials should be planted in the spring (March to early May) or fall (late September to October), when the soil is wet. Barerooted plants must be transplanted at the correct times, as previously said.

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Oliver Wright
Oliver Wright

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