The Q&A Archives: Pine Trees

Question: I have two very large pine trees in my front lawn. I have tried to plant numerous perennials and annuals unsuccessfully not to mention the lawn...Nothing will grow. I would be happy with anything at this point. Hosta is even dying.
My husband wants to chop the trees down. I do not. I have many hummingbirds, Cardinals, Blue Jays, etc that live there.
I just want something with color or even just green to grow so I can SAVE THE TREES. Please Help...Patricia from Hamburg, NY.

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. There are others - just check the plant labels for those that grow in dry shade.

Hope this information helps you save your pine trees!

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