Landscaping with plants, ferns, and grass is the most artistic way to use any open space under the pine trees in your garden. Instead of using stones, bricks, light decorations, or rubber shields, you can add some dynamism to your garden space with flowers, ground plants, and shrubs.
Finding plants that work well under pine trees is a little harder because it requires plants that can thrive in less sunlight and do well with the acidity of soil around the base of pine trees. If you ever try to grow grass under a pine tree, you may be disappointed with the lack of coverage and its slow growth.
This is because adding additional plants must be suitable in the following environmental conditions for growing under pine trees:
- The soil is acidic (range from high to low levels)
- Sunlight is low (partial to full shade)
- The competition for water and nutrient (pine roots compete for resources)
- The pine needles can fall straight down to the grounded plants, restricting the sunlight and disrupts the growing stages of the plant. These can create disease issues and lower the quality of its flowering potential.
What Type of Plants Grows Well Under Pine Trees?
Dense shade and extreme dryness cause most plants not to grow under pine trees. Pine trees have a dense root system and are strong competitors for soil nutrients and moisture. Hence doing a little research about the type of plant suitable for pine trees can save you time and effort.
Here are some plants that can get you started:
Many flowers thrive in acidic soils and require full shade and partial shade. These include Bleeding Heart, Astilbe, Fox Glove, Bergenia, Camellia, Hosta, Lyrope, and Lily of the Valley. Plant these flowers away from the roots of the trees or make the bed from landscaping wood, edge stones, or other edging. When you plant flowers, build a raised bed deep so that the shovel does not accidentally damage the roots of the tree.
Add acidic soil-loving shrubs under the pines. These include gardenia, azaleas, itia, holly, all kinds of ferns, and cranberry viburnum. Arrange these shrubs according to their adult size. If it seems too low, divide the bushes into flower-filled pots and place them under the shade.
Inspect and modify the soil before planting
Check the soil pH all over your garden. Pine needles increase the acidity of the soil and extreme acidity can destroy some plants. Take a sample to any nursery shop and request to test the soil. Otherwise, you can test the soil yourself; Soil-testing kits are available at gardening centers and are easy to use.
After examining your soil, add sulfur, and modify the pH accordingly. Add sulfur to increase acidity depending on whether your soil is sandy or not.
Since mature pine trees reduce soil moisture; you will need to add compost, peat moss, or mulch to the soil. What you add depends on the needs of the plants you choose. Add these modifications weeks before planting any shaded plants and give the soil time to take effect.
What Perennial Plants Grow Well Under Pine Trees?
Perennial plants can live more than 2 years with various blooming stages. You will be amazed by the beautiful colors of flowers blooming during the summer and springtime. Hence, having perennial plants can make your garden look both elegant and magical during this season.
Many perennial plants can grow under pine trees. These plants go along with the low acidity of the soil and the shade that the pine tree offers.
1. Barren Strawberry (Waldsteinia)
A mat of low-growing and dense foliage similar to a strawberry. A slow-spreading plant blooms in the spring with small yellow and purple flowers.
2. Big-root Geranium (Geranium macrorrhizum)
With attractive and fragrant leaves, small purple flowers bloom in late spring, from white to pink, magenta, depending on the crop. It grows up to 12 feet tall and spreads to 24 feet wide that forms a thick cover. The unique feature of this plant is the way the flowers stick up, leaving its thick leaves behind and creating a pleasant display.
3. Ara Barrenwort (Epimedium x Versicolor)
Forms gorgeous heart-shaped leaves that change their color with every change of season from red, green to reddish. It can grow up to 2 feet with a 1.5 spread. White flowers bloom with yellow/golden clumps in the middle. It has a drought tolerance once it turns into an adult plant. This plant grows best under shady trees or bushes. You can plant various other perennial plants along with it.
4. Dead Nettle (Lamium maculatum)
Famous for covering the grounds due to its large leaves. The flowers form shapes of butterfly wings with several flowers in one stem. It has a long blooming period, displaying flowers of pink, white, and magenta in early summer or spring. It is a fast-growing plant, rises to a height of 4 – 8 feet tall, and spreads more than 3 feet.
5. Heart-leaved Bergenia (Bergenia cordifolia)
Large, leathery leaves in the shape of elephant ears, which can grow up to 12 – 18 inches tall and 30 – 45 centimeters wide. Several flower clusters bloom together from corners of the leaves. Color can range from deep purple to light glossy texture.
It grows in rich soil but can tolerate poor soil making it a long-lasting reliable plant. Hence, it requires low maintenance and attention. If you like to keep your garden looking magical without putting much effort, then getting a bergenia plant should be your priority.
6. Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum)
Well-formed pointy leaves blooming with clusters of white flowers in the spring season. Sweet woodruff is known for treating lung, stomach, and liver pains. It is also called a blood purifier and treats insomnia.
However, they can become invasive and quickly eat up the nutrients of a neighboring plant. They can be dormant during the harsh season. It grows best in wet soil and if you have a large ground to cover up space, planting up sweet woodruff can do the job easily.
Important circumstances to remember:
Note that if you are planting perennials where you are experiencing dry and harsh conditions, you need to water your shaded plants frequently and apply fertilizer more than usual. This is because pine trees absorb more water and nutrients during such conditions and restrict the side or ground plants from taking their share. Many perennial flowers go dormant at this stage, but giving proper attention to the shaded plants at this stage will allow the flowers to blossom beautifully during the late fall or spring season.
To add more light to your shaded plants, cut down a few branches below the pine trees for the ground plant to reach maximum sunlight. It works with deciduous trees, pine trees, or slender old mushrooms, but do not do this if it is a young tree with your evergreen twigs. If so, it will mulch the tree instead of deforming it.
Will Hostas Grow Under Pine Trees?
Hosta plants give out a tropical look, also known as giboshi in Japanese. They grow best under shaded trees with less maintenance and can last between 4 to 8 years. Since they are shade lovers, they require less sunlight, which means it will thrive best under pine trees.
They can come in various leaf size, color texture, and height. To make it reach its full potential you need to apply fertilizers during the growing season.
Deep dark foliage means it grows best in moderate shade with slightly acidic soil. Before planting, mix rich organic soil with compost while allowing enough space for its root to grow. The most important part is to provide good drainage soil to avoid diseases that can attack these plants. Hence keeping the roots moist is the key to a healthy Hosta plant.
Can You Plant Daylilies Under Pine Trees?
Daylilies are one of the carefree flowering plants that thrive both in sun or shaded areas. They can grow best under pine trees, as Daylilies benefit from the shade and are not denied nutrients or moisture from pine roots because the roots remain in the above surface. Daylilies can grow in any gardening soil, but adding humus or peat is like giving the plant happy mini-treats.
These flowering plants grow quickly and live a longer blooming for almost a month during the spring and summer seasons. To increasing the bloom, seed heads should be removed at the plant tip to increase growth and strength. This will help force the plant to create new seeds for the next flowering season.
Can You Plant Hydrangeas Under Pine Trees?
Hydrangeas are gorgeous flowering plants that contain around 75 species, native to Asia and the Americas. It has diverse colors range from pink, blue, lavender, violet, green and white.
They do well under pine trees since their roots grow on the surface of the soil and do not penetrate the soil. Hydrangea needs full or partial shade for adequate growth, the more sunlight the more flowers form.
When planting hydrangea with the pine tree, give it lots of mounds on the surface while adding a hand full of fertilizers. Ensure you keep the soil moist with a high drainage system.
Watering moderately is enough to keep hydrangeas hydrated, especially during the summer season. The acidity of soil under pine trees can make the flowers turn blue otherwise it displays color of pink if the soil has a higher pH level.
Signs of brown spots are commonly observed in hydrangea, hence clearing and cutting out dead plant parts will avoid any future disease.
Can Peonies Grow Under Pine Trees?
Peonies are not recommended to grow along with pine trees for several reasons. Firstly, peonies require full sunlight or a slight shade for their full growth. Besides, they prefer to have their own nutrients instead of sharing them with other plants.
All kinds of peonies prefer at least 6 – 8 hours of direct sunlight. Peonies need space for their growth as it can reach from 2 to 3 feet tall and spread to about 2 to 4 feet wide. Hence, having pine trees along peonies can decrease the growth quality of peony plants.
Peonies grow well in zone 8 – 9 with moist soil hence watering them frequently can be a tough job for many gardeners. It also requires deep and rich soil with good drainage, if you wish to see full bloom flowers. They also need a good space for air circulation to avoid catching any fungal disease. Companion plants such as Siberian, Spring Bulbs, and Roses with small shrubs are some of the companion plants of peonies.