The Q&A Archives: Planting under pine tree

Question: I have a small area under a pine tree with years of pine needles in sandy soil. What will grow and return year after year. Bulbs and flowering bush. It gets hot afternoon sun, and shade under the pine tree. Faces north to south

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 Variegated Solomon?s Seal (Polygonatum multiflorum ?Variegatum?), Hardy Plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides), Creeping Oregon Grape (Mahonia repens), Lady?s Mantle ?Thriller? (Alchemilla mollis ?Thriller?), Anaphalis, Antennaria, Artemisia ludoviciana, Aster divaricatus, Bergenia, Brunnera, Campanula carpatica, Corydalis lutea, Eupatorium rugosum, Galium, Geranium maccrorhizum,Helleborus foetidus, Hemerocallis, Heuchera, Iberis, Mertensia, Polygonatum, Pulmonaria, Thalictrum, Vinca minor and Viola.

Good luck with your landscape!

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