Northern Gardening forum: Perennials under a pine tree?

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Name: Reid
North Branch, MN (Zone 4b)
Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Anderwood
Feb 25, 2014 4:18 PM CST
I have a 60 foot tall Blue Spruce, and there are huge roots under it. What are good options for me?
Name: Margaret
Near Kamloops, BC, Canada (Zone 3a)
Region: Canadian Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Tip Photographer Garden Ideas: Master Level I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Charter ATP Member
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mcash70
Feb 25, 2014 4:54 PM CST
Plant choices will depend on how much shade or sun there is under the tree..
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
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CarolineScott
Feb 26, 2014 1:24 AM CST
There are a few plants which grow there.
Perennial geraniums (not pelargoniums)
False Lamium

The roots of the tree can be a problem, so placing containers there may be an option.
Or make small grow areas between the roots?

I am limbing the spruce trees up, so plants would get more light.
Name: Gloria Levely
Sanford Mi. (Zone 5b)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Enjoys or suffers cold winters Region: Michigan Lilies Irises
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glevely
Feb 26, 2014 4:56 AM CST
I cut my spruce trees up so there over my head (5) foot the plants are doing much better I have two one on either side of a walk way scared me to do it but I like it much better and the trees are doing great !!
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Plant Identifier
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Leftwood
Feb 26, 2014 9:15 AM CST
Epimediums do very well in dry shade or part shade. Easy ones for Minnesota are the clump forming Epimedium x rubrum and the rhizomatous Epimedium x warleyense 'Orangekönigin' (increases 4-6 inches per year).
Name: Reid
North Branch, MN (Zone 4b)
Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Anderwood
Feb 26, 2014 11:08 AM CST
Thanks @Leftwood and @ CarolineScott! These look like great options! Right now I have hosta, 2 hydrangea, creeping ivy, Astilbes, perennial geraniums, bugle weed, and coral bells, and Lamium.
Name: Margaret
Near Kamloops, BC, Canada (Zone 3a)
Region: Canadian Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Tip Photographer Garden Ideas: Master Level I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Charter ATP Member
Morning Glories Critters Allowed Birds Houseplants Butterflies Garden Photography
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mcash70
Feb 26, 2014 11:54 AM CST
Reid, Jacobs Ladder, the variegated has lovely blue flowers in the spring and the green leaved one has pretty white flowers, both have done well under my poplar tree for several years.
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Plant Identifier
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Leftwood
Feb 26, 2014 12:52 PM CST
Usually under spruces the soil gets very dry in summer. While Colorado spruce like that (as long as the soil doesn't heat up), you will find that out of what you list, the most thirsty perennials will be the hydrangea and astilbe.
Name: Reid
North Branch, MN (Zone 4b)
Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Anderwood
Feb 26, 2014 7:04 PM CST
I have since learned this @leftwood. They dry out no matter how much I water them, especially the astilbe. I need to put more compost around them.
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Plant Identifier
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Leftwood
Feb 26, 2014 8:00 PM CST
Now that you have said that, Reid, I feel I can continue without being accused of being too preachy:

Compost can only help, but is not an answer at all. What little water your able to conserve would be of little use, as the tree will continue to suck the soil dry no matter how much you add. The real solution is to remove the "needy" plants, and replace with compatible materials. Others include Large flowered Bellwort (Uvularia grandiflora), hellebores, Astrantia, Aruncus aethusifolius (similar to astilbe), and both the native and European forms of ginger (Asarum).

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