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Gardening 101: Creeping Jenny

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Gardening 101: Creeping Jenny

January 18, 2018

Creeping Jenny, Lysimachia nummularia: “Moneywort”

With some plants there is a fine line between friend and foe and lots of ground covers, by their very nature, fall into this category. Useful plants that will cover banks or unsightly, “tricky” areas can be prone to rapidly colonizing areas too, smothering everything in its path.

Creeping Jenny—a glossy, evergreen perennial and member of the Primulacea family—will quickly create a carpet of low-growing wandering stems covered in pairs of zingy, lime green oval leaves.

Creeping jenny in bloom. Photograph by Danny S. via Wikimedia.
Above: Creeping jenny in bloom. Photograph by Danny S. via Wikimedia.

In summer stems of Creeping Jenny are covered with cheery, cup-shaped yellow flowers.

Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’. Photograph by Derek Ramsey via Wikimedia.
Above: Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’. Photograph by Derek Ramsey via Wikimedia.

Given its reputation, it’s wise to position Creeping Jenny away from other plants. In a container, it will drape like a vine.

Cheat Sheet

  • Creeping Jenny will establish and spread quickly so position plants 18 inches apart in moist soil and in full sun to part shade.
  • The sunnier the spot the more yellow the leaves will become—in shady spots they turn a deeper green.
  • Golden Creeping Jenny—Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’— is a vibrant cultivar with chartreuse leaves – use it to brighten up the edge of paths or verges. It is also less rampant than its more common relation.
  • In the wild these plants colonise boggy, damp areas and, as such, they can be used as an aquatic or to cover banks of streams or ponds. Use aquatic pots and compost if you are planting into water and divide congested clumps every three or four years.
A tough plant for city streets, Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’ (foreground) mingles with hostas and liriope in Abingdon Square in Manhattan’s West Village. Photograph by Cultivar413 via Flickr.
Above: A tough plant for city streets, Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’ (foreground) mingles with hostas and liriope in Abingdon Square in Manhattan’s West Village. Photograph by Cultivar413 via Flickr.

Keep It Alive

  • This hardy creeper should not be confused with purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), an aggressive and invasive plant often found in reed-beds, marshes, and river banks.
  • If you don’t trust it in the ground, then Creeping Jenny can also make a very attractive plant for containers where it will cascade down the sides of a pot.
  • If you’ve planted it in the ground, keep Creeping Jenny in check by regularly trimming it back. If you want to make more plants its easy to propagate by division or by seeds.
Photograph by Deb Nystrom via Flickr.
Above: Photograph by Deb Nystrom via Flickr.

This plant has been renowned as a wound healer since medieval times and was used on either fresh wounds or older ones. It has also been used in Chinese medicine where it’s used to treat gallstones.

N.B.: Are you looking for the right ground cover to fill in a trouble spot? See our Garden Design 101 guides:

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