The Q&A Archives: Companion Plants for Pine Trees

Question: I have a small area under a pine tree, in the shade, that stays pretty dry because of the tree above it. I want to plant something that will fill the area. It is right next to my front steps and porch. Are there any flowering plants that would grow there? And should I add anything to the soil because of the tree? Roberta Coppinger Brookfield, WI

Answer: There are not too many plants that can withstand deep shade and produce showy flowers. Also, it is difficult to grow things under pine trees because their needles tend to acidify the soil. (Notice how in a pine woods there is very little growing under the trees. Often the most common plants growing there are ferns; however, if your soil is dry these would not be appropriate.) The following are some groundcovers that can tolerate deep shade: Ajuga reptans (bugleweed), Gaultheria procumbens (wintergreen), Pachysandra, Pulmonaria (lungwort), and Vinca minor (vinca). Add a layer of leaf mold (decayed leaves) for moisture retention. Water on a regular basis. Ajuga produces purple or white flowers; lungwort and vinca have blue flowers.

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