The Q&A Archives: Citrus Trees

Question: What can I grow beneath an orange tree that will prevent mud puddles, tolerate shade, tolerate fallen citrus, tolerate moderate foot traffic, looks good and is puppy friendly? Currently I have grass underneath the tree but it does not tolerate the shade and grows thin.

Answer: Finding a suitable plant for under citrus trees is a real challenge. Citrus have shallow root systems that have trouble competing with other plants, including weeds. Citrus roots likes ample moisture, and they don't like to be disturbed. Taking all this into consideration, the first choice would be an organic mulch rather than a plant. But, if you don't like the idea of a thick layer of bark or compost, you might try a well-behaved low-growing groundcover such as Ajuga (Carpet Bugle), Houttuynia, Vinca (Periwinkle), Gallium (Sweet Woodruff), or Phlox.

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