Planting ferns - Knowledgebase Question

Pittsford, Ne
Question by eawest
June 30, 2010
I would like to plant ferns under a row of pine trees. Nothing grows there now but weeds and it is difficult to maintain. I understand pine trees are acidic, is this true? Can I plant ferns under them? Thank you.


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Answer from NGA
June 30, 2010

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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. (Most ferns like moist, rich soil and shady 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, and Viola. Hope this helps!


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