The Q&A Archives: Growing Under Western Red Cedar

Question: I have a very large Western Red Cedar near my patio. I can never seem to get anything to grow under it. Its definitly a shady area. However,I have tried a number of shade loving plants. They all struggle and die. This year a couple of Hostas did reemerge but they are small and sickly. I was told that Cedars cause a very acid soil. Which makes it difficult to grow stuff there. Can you help? I would love any suggestion you have about shade loving plants that might do well in this situation. Thank you for your help.
Andrew L. James

Answer: Cedar trees are gluttons when it comes to moisture and nutrients so anything you plant under an established cedar will have to compete with the tree's extensive root system. Fortunately, there are some shallow-rooted plants tolerant of dry shade for you to consider. For easy care and good results I would suggest some of the evergreen Euonymus fortunei (Wintercreeper Euonymus) which are commonly available in a number of varieties along with some hosta plants which are also available in a number of varieties. Another possibility might be Vinca minor, an evergreen groundcover with bright blue flowers in early spring. To add some additional height and interest to the composition you might consider placing a bench under the trees, along with a large planter of a flowering shade loving annual such as impatiens. Good luck with your shade garden!

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