Bugleflower (Ajuga reptans)
This photo was taken on James Island, SC.
This attractive dark-green plant is recommended as a groundcover not rampant in growth. Attractive spikes of blue flowers appear in early spring, although some cultivars are available with pink or white flowers. It may be mown after flowering to remove flower stems.
This perennial spreads by stolons similar to strawberries and grows best in shade. It will tolerate some sun if adequate moisture is provided. It may possibly become invasive in turfgrass. It is susceptible to the root-knot nematode, mainly in the Midlands and Low Country.
The growth is a rosette-type and most varieties grow to only 6 inches tall. The leaf is 2 to 4 inches wide with the larger width grown in shade. Named varieties describe the folliage such as "Bronze Beauty", "Burgandy Glow", and "Multicolor".
Cast Iron Plant
Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior)
This photo was taken at Trident Technical College, N. Charleston, SC
The Cast Iron plant is not strictly a groundcover but can be used in densely shaded spots. Its low light requirements also make this an ideal houseplant. The plant can reach 30 " tall.This evergreen plant tolerates damp areas and does best in mid-state and coastal areas. No serious pests are associated with this plant, but it may be susceptible to leaf-spotting diseases.
The growth habit is clump-like with leaves 3" to 6" wide and 18 to 24" high. Long dark evergreen leathery leaves appear striped due to the parallel veination. There is also a white-edged variety.
Holly Fern (Cyrtomium falcatum)
This photo was taken at Hyams Garden Center, Charleston, SC.
Bold, coarse textured evergreen leaves make these large ferns a feature in the landscape year-round. Holly fern is native to Japan and is grown commonly throughout South Carolina due to its hardiness and striking appearance. It is a tough plant that is inexpensive and easy to propagate. It may suffer from winter burn if temperatures go below 15° F, but recovers quickly with spring growth.
This plant grows in light to full shade and can grow up to 30 inches tall. It needs plenty of moisture in the growing season. It will have few pest problems if care is taken to meet its growing requirements.
Glossy green fronds up to 2 1/2" long spread to 3 ft wide. The individual pinnae are leathery, serrated with sharp points, and have a remarkable resemblance to holly leaves - thus the common name.