Planting under a pine tree

I have a pine tree at my new house. There's nothing under it but dried needles, and some hideous red mulch applied by the previous owner. Now, I've spent enough time hiking to notice that in the woods, there's not much that grows under pine trees. But, that's before WE get involved. :-) The circle under mine begs for something, whether it be just green like pachysandra or vinca, or maybe a bunch of spring bulbs. Is it hopeless? Do the needles wreak havoc with pH to the point where the soil's unfriendly to most plants?
Let's assume for the sake of discussion that if lack of water is the issue, I'm willing to correct that. I've got this new high-tech thing called a sprinkler.
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You much funny man... he he he. (enjoyed the way your post was written)
Hope you get some answers, I have about 1/4 acre in the front of our place that has allot of pines that I would love to plant under. I know grass will grow, it's all over the place out here, even under the pines.
Kate
| I have a pine tree at my new house. There's nothing under it but dried | needles, and some hideous red mulch applied by the previous owner. Now, I've | spent enough time hiking to notice that in the woods, there's not much that | grows under pine trees. But, that's before WE get involved. :-) The circle | under mine begs for something, whether it be just green like pachysandra or | vinca, or maybe a bunch of spring bulbs. Is it hopeless? Do the needles | wreak havoc with pH to the point where the soil's unfriendly to most plants? | | Let's assume for the sake of discussion that if lack of water is the issue, | I'm willing to correct that. I've got this new high-tech thing called a | sprinkler. | |
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I've
that
or
plants?
issue,
It's not an ideal situation but certainly doable. There are a fair number of plants suited to dry shade that can be established under the drip line/crown of a conifer. Soil pH is not that critical - surface needles will have a pretty insignificant effect on the soil chemistry, so just go with plants you know are suited to your local soil, acidic or otherwise (most plants will prefer slightly acidic soils anyway). I'd amend the soil with a modest layer (no more than 2") of organic matter first.
Some to consider:
yep, the Pachy works :-)) Euonymus fortunei Vinca minor Gaultheria shallon Cotoneaster dammeri Lamium Geranium macrorhizum Epimediums Dicentra Liriope Sarcococca humilis Iris foetidissima sedums and sempervivums various ferns (Polystichums, Dryopteris, Blechnam spicant)
Keep that sprinkler handy, cuz drought tolerant or not, anything newly planted will need supplemental irrigation to get established, but once established, these should get by with little additional watering. And use your common sense with regards to how heavy the shade is - the higher the tree is limbed up, the more light will penetrate under the canopy and the better the more sun tolerant of these will thrive, but most will be happy with pretty low light levels.
pam - gardengal
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In the inland Northwest our primary native conifers are ponderosa pines. They are normally deep rooted, so people here plant under them all the time, especially if they have underground sprinkler systems for the lawns. Under one of mine quite close to the trunk, I have a rhododendron, an oriental lily, several asiatic lilies, a hosta, and a climbing hydrangea. A little further away, but still within the drip line, I have ferns, foxgloves, primroses, columbine, etc. "
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time,
This is beginning to sound very encouraging.
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circle
of
line/crown
modest
The tree's been limbed up to about 15', so the light's actually quite good underneath. Full sun for about 3 hours a day, and (too use a precise scientific term), "pretty damned bright" for the remainder. :-)
Side story: About 4:00 PM this past Sunday, I spotted a blue jay in this tree. Since I hadn't seen one yet this year, it was a big deal, so out came the binoculars. While following the bird around the tree, I noticed a HUGE spider web illuminated by the sun. This thing was easily fifty feet across. No...wait. Three feet is more like it, and it was fluttering in the gentle breeze. Absolutely beautiful. But, as usual, my twisted mind dredged up memories of one of the better Far Side cartoons: Two spiders have built a web at the bottom of a playground slide. One's saying to the other, "If this works, we'll eat like kings!"
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In the southeast U.S., common things to see planted under pines are evergreen azaleas and camellias (both C. japonica and C. sasanqua).
I've seen lowbush blueberries in the northeast.
I would think anything that tolerates your soil and likes part sun to part shade would do OK, especially if you are supplementing water. Still, I'd be conservative on the irrigation, as I don't think most pines like chronically wet feet -- maybe someone can correct me on that if I'm wrong.
Mike
Pam - gardengal wrote:

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On Mon, 27 Sep 2004 14:19:13 GMT, "Doug Kanter"

Don't know where you are, but azalea and blueberry do well under the pines in Georgia.
Regards,
Hal
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wrote:

I've
that
circle
or
plants?
issue,
I'm in Rochester NY, zone 5/6. Azaleas are dicey here, but blueberries do well. Do yours get by with less than full day sun?
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On Tue, 28 Sep 2004 20:25:22 GMT, "Doug Kanter"

I've seen them growing wild under pine trees in the woods. I have no idea how much sunlight is required, but they seem to like the acid soil.
Regards,
Hal
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Cyclamen hederifolium & asarums do very well under pines, cedars, or firs, even right up close to the trunks.
-paghat the ratgirl
--
"Of what are you afraid, my child?" inquired the kindly teacher.
"Oh, sir! The flowers, they are wild," replied the timid creature.
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aside from physically blocking light, it's been rumored that pine needles contain/produce some phenolic compounds that inhibit the growth of other plants. of course there are some plants that don't mind living in a tough neighborhood and so you've got your strawberries and such thumbing (hehe, he said 'thumb') their noses at the pines and wussy plants.
this is a from 1994 not sure it really says anything other than it needs further investigation
http://www.colostate.edu/Depts/Entomology/courses/en570/papers_ 1994/carroll.html
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