If you play a word association game with a green industry professional, the typical response for a ground cover might be a juniper. They provide beauty year-round and are pretty tough plants. But what if you are looking for something that shows a little more ‘change’ throughout the growing season?
Hesse cotoneaster can cover a lot of ground, as it can spread up to five feet while maxing out in height at around 1.5 feet. The small, glossy green leaves (.5 inches at the most) may not throw a lot of shade on their own, but the numerous branches covered with leaves can effectively form a ground cover where no weeds can compete.
One of the subtle changes occurs in the spring when pinkish flowers appear in May-June. Pollinators will visit while in full bloom. Change continues as the flowers give way to small red fruits that can remain on the plant well into early winter.
The leaves of cotoneaster will eventually fall to the ground, but not before it gives the landscaping crowd one more asset to consider. The shiny, green leaves will eventually turn a reddish color to provide a fall carpet of color.
Like most other cotoneasters, Hesse contoneaster does not like wet feet. Otherwise, this plant is pretty hardy as it can thrive in sunny to partly shady sites. Take it much farther south than Pennsylvania's hardiness zones and you may start to run into a bit of trouble with the heat.