Ground Cover Plants That Are Great for Wildlife

You can plant native ground covers in your garden to provide habitat and food for wildlife. Many home gardeners are taking an interest in low-growing perennials due to the value they provide to local wildlife. These ground-covering plants do not need regular maintenance once they take hold in your garden.

1. Wild geranium/ Geranium maculatum

wild geranium
  • It has pale pink flowers which are good for butterflies, bumblebees, and other pollinators.
  • Requires full sunlight or partial shade.
  • Grows well in moist, acidic soils.
  • Ideal for hardiness zones 3-8.

2. Dwarf cinquefoil/ Potentilla Canadensis

Dwarf cinquefoil- Potentilla Canadensis

Deciduous plant with yellow and white flowers that attracts pollinators such as bumblebees. Its seeds are eaten by birds. The leaves are eaten by rabbits and groundhogs.

  • Grows best in well-drained sandy soils.
  • Requires full sunlight or partial shade. 
  • Reaches a height of 6 inches and spreads 18 inches wide.
  • Ideal for hardiness zones 4-8.

3. Large-leaved aster/ Eurybia macrophylla

Large-leaved aster-Eurybia macrophylla
  • Has pale violet flowers which attract bees and butterflies. These flowers bloom in the early stages of the fall season.
  • Grows well in well-drained soils with a lot of moisture.
  • Requires full sunlight to thrive.
  • Ideal for hardiness zones 3-8.

4. Lowbush blueberry/ Vaccinum angustifolium

Lowbush blueberry- Vaccinum angustifolium
  • Its fruits are enjoyed by birds and mammals. It is frequently visited by different pollinators during spring.
  • Grow well in acidic, well-drained soils.
  • Requires full sunlight or partial shade.
  • Ideal for hardiness zones 2-8.

5. Coralberry/ Symphoricarpos orbiculatus

Coralberry-Symphoricarpos orbiculatus
  • Has bright flowers that attract hummingbirds. It is a shrub that spreads well to provide cover and nest sites for songbirds and game birds.
  • Grows to a height of 6ft.
  • Its fruits and flowers are available from fall to spring.
  • Requires full sunlight or partial shade.
  • Ideal for hardiness zones 2-7.

6. Virginia creeper/ Parthenocissus Quinquefolia

Virginia creeper-Parthenocissus Quinquefolia

It provides good cover for small vertebrates and invertebrates. Its foliage is popular with deer and rabbits. The flowers bloom to attract butterflies, moth caterpillars and hummingbirds.

  • It grows aggressively along walls.
  • Reaches a height of 70ft in the wild.
  • Requires full sunlight or partial shade.
  • Needs high moisture in the soil.
  • Ideal for hardiness zones 3-10.

How to choose ground cover plants for wildlife

You should select ground cover plants that provide a year-round source of food. Blackberries and raspberries are good sources of fruit in the summer for rabbits, chipmunks, and other summer animals. These along with wildlife-friendly shrubs will work great.

Prioritize plants that retain fruit during winter and early spring. This is a period of great food scarcity, so it is good to have plants that produce fruit for winter consumption. Examples include crabapple, hawthorn, staghorn sumac, and highbush cranberry.

To attract birds, bees and other pollinators, you can plant evergreen ground plants and shrubs that remain valuable throughout the year. Each plant has specific growing requirements; soil and exposure to sunlight. Do your research to ensure that the soil type in your garden can accommodate the plant you intend to grow.

Large trees offer shade from the sun and act as sites for nest building. Ensure that your wildlife garden has enough trees to provide shelter during the winter. Evergreen trees and shrubs with branches close to the ground offer the best shelter. They are better insulators and of high interest to ground animals looking for protection from winter winds.

Trees and shrubs that offer good nesting locations should be present in your garden. They are good sites for building nests and raising young birds. Birds will be able to hide from predators and find shelter all year round in your garden.


There are a variety of ground cover plants that offer habitat and food for wildlife. Your garden can be a source of food for local wildlife or a safe haven from predators. The ground cover you chose for your landscape highly depends on your hardiness zone, climate and soil type and quality.

Select the best ground cover for you, depending on native wildlife and space in your garden. It is ideal to plant during spring to allow full bloom. You can also plant during fall if you live in an area with mild winters.