The Q&A Archives: plants under redwoods

Question: I am having trouble growing plants under my redwood trees. I have 4 redwoods on one side of my yard. They have rockrose under them and they grow just fine. On the other side of the yard I have 3 redwoods. I have killed a camelia, rhododendron, and 3 azaelas. I have some azaelas that are doing well. Do you have any suggestions for plants to plant under the redwoods?

Answer: It's difficult to get plants to grow beneath redwood trees because the trees cast a lot of shade and the soil is generally dry and acidic. Shallow, aggressive roots from the trees will compete with roots of other plants for moisture and nutrients, and the competition can be enough to starve out other plants. You might have better success if you think of it as a woodland area and plant things that duplicate nature's planting in a redwood forest. Rhododendrons are good choices, as are ferns, huckleberry, sorrel, California bay laurel, and Pacific Starflower (Trientalis latifolia). If you want to try growing camellias and azaleas beneath the trees again, install a soaker hose to ensure the roots of these plants get adequate water.

Best wishes with your garden!

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