Lily of the Valley – A Tough And Pretty Ground Cover

Design, Plantings · Written by Roger

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Lily of the ValleyLily of the Valley is one of those ground covers you may not always think to use.  Yet it is one of the easiest to grow, can spread like crazy and needs hardly any care.  I know, you’re probably thinking “Why am I not using more of this plant?”.

In case you’re not familiar with Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis), here’s some plant profile information on this gem.

It is perennial and therefore dies down to the ground each year before winter.  Bonus! This makes leaf clean-up much easier than having to rake out a bed of pachysandra in the fall.

Lily of the Valley grows to about 8″ high (although there are some taller varieties) and spreads by rhizomes.  These underground stems grow laterally and then push up shoots (sometimes called “pips”) to form new leaves.

Because it’s a fairly aggressive spreader, I’m careful where I plant it.  For instance, don’t try to mix it into a bed with other perennials – it will easily over-run the others.  However, it does mix and coexist well with other woody plants like Rhododendron and Viburnum.  In fact, that’s a great look in a woodland setting.

Lily of the Valley Lily of the Valley prefers shade to partial shade, but it will tolerate sun, especially if given enough moisture.  It doesn’t seem to be too particular about soil type – another testament to its “warrior” status in my book.

It’s rated for Zones 2 – 7, but the further south you go the more shade you should give it.

The flowers show up in mid spring.  They are white, bell-shaped and have a nice scent.  One thing though: orange berries may appear in the fall.  These are poisonous so just keep that in mind if you have little kids nearby.

Lily of the Valley has beauty and brawn.  The classic use is as a ground cover under shade trees, but creatively it can be used around woody plants and also in the “nooks and crannies” of a shady rock garden.

One more great attribute of this plant is its deer resistance.  In my area this quality is almost becoming a must.

Let me know in the comments how you’ve used it and what experiences you’ve had with Lily of the Valley.

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