Q: I would like to put a ground cover in dry shade under an oak but my husband thinks all ground covers are invasive. Are there any evergreen groundcovers that would work? If they had a blooming period that would be a plus.
A: It is good that your husband is cautious about invasive groundcovers. English ivy, dwarf bamboo and wintercreeper euonym
us create virtual deserts where they are allowed to spread without control.
For situations like yours I am particularly fond of Lenten rose, Helleborus orientalis, and mondo grass, Ophiopogon japonicus. Both are tough-as-nails and evergreen but non-invasive. The Lenten rose has attractive flowers from January through April. You’ll need to carefully loosen the soil between the roots of the oak and add good quality planting soil (not $.99 per bag topsoil) to the area before planting.
If you can snake a soaker hose among the plantings you could include hosta, variegated Solomon’s seal and ferns to the shady spot. The availability of water for a couple of months in the summer will benefit both your perennials and your oak tree.