The Q&A Archives: Shade Plants

Question: I'm trying to grow plants under some rhododendrons. The area only gets about 5-6 hours of sun a day. I'm looking for low plants or ground covers. Flowering is ok, but I prefer greenery.

Answer: It may be difficult to grow plants under rhodies because of the shallow roots the roots have. Rhododendrons don't especially like competition from other plants and may drink up all the moisture and nutrients before your new plants can become established. There are some sturdy groundcovers that can hold their own under the circumstances, but if you've had trouble getting plants to grow under the shrubs, the likely cause is that the rhodies are so shallow rooted. Try Ajuga (Carpet Bugle), Vinca minor (Periwinkle), Pachysandra, or Houttuynia. Each of these plants flower briefly during the spring or summer, but are generally evergreen in appearance, and are low-growing (or can be cut back to keep them low to the ground).

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