The Q&A Archives: Planting under a Pine tree

Question: I have a huge pine tree in the front yard which faces south, nothing grows under the pine tree, not even the grass and the needles from the pine tree make a thick carpet. I would like to know which plants will be happy under these conditions such as acidic soil, part-sun and dry soil. Thank you.

Answer: The soil beneath pines tends to be on the acidic end of the pH scale because of the needles they drop. Another problem associated with growing plants under pines is that the trees have fibrous roots near the soil surface which will compete with any other plant for moisture and nutrients. Additionally, the canopy of pines effectively divert rainwater so things are usually pretty dry directly under the trees. Now that you have a little background information on why it's so difficult to grow plants under pines, you're better equipped to make the right plant choices. Look for plants that grow well in acidic soils, have shallow roots, grow in partially shady locations, and don't mind dry conditions. Some of the plants that will adjust to these conditions include Artemisia, Erigeron karvinskianus (Santa Barbara Daisy), California Poppy, Heuchera (Coral Bells), Limonium, Evening Primrose (Oenothera), Penstemon, Romneya coulteri (Matilija Poppy), Salvia, Santolina (Lavender Cotton), Stonecrop, Campanula and Ferns of all kinds.

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