What can you grow under rhododendrons in zone 6

My mother was wondering what kind of plants would grow good under full sized rhododendrons that are in zone 6. We live in the North East.
Thanks Jim
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I'd consider Epimedium otherwise known as Barrenwort.
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If the rhodies are limbed up at all so that the entire areas is not in dense shade, any number of small surface rooted plants can be grown at their base. A large number of groundcovers will work - vinca, lamium, aegopodium, pachysandra, hardy cyclamen, Asarum candense or europaeum (hardy wild ginger), or sweet woodruff. You could also try epimediums, Dicentra formosa or eximia and one of my favorites, Saxifrage x urbium, aka London Pride. Slightly further out, you could plant hostas, ferns and other shade lovers that enjoy the same conditions - heucheras, astilbe and various shade grasses come to mind. You want to avoid cultivation or serious root competition immediately at the base of the rhodies.
pam - gardengal
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I have azaleas under mine (I'm in Atlanta, though) and both are doing nicely and look great together... Kirsten

dense
base.
formosa
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vinca minor, sweet woodruff, or "canadian" ginger will work. Lily of the valley is also a strong candidate. lamium will work but less well.
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Some very good suggestions already in the thread, but so far it looks like no one has mentioned that it is easy to damage roots of rhodies by planting underneath them. This means mainly that you have to insert small starts of things & not try to plant, say, a gallon-pot of epimediums amidst roots. But a three-inch pot can be inserted safely, with care, & as the underplanting grows, the roots will sort themselves out safely.
Hepaticas and Cyclamen hederifolium do well underneath rhodies. Hardy geraniums also do well.
-paghat the ratgirl
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This is very good advice. I have a red maple under which the ground is like rock; there's no digging around under there. But I have successfully inserted tiny bits of hostas at the base of the trunk. Not much to look at at first, but now three years later they have filled in nicely. I've done the same with tiny fringed bleeding heart seedlings under my rhododendron. They have grown in nice and full and no more digging around every year shoving annuals anymore.
~flick L.I. zone 6
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (flicker) wrote:

first, but

with tiny

I've had he smaller species of bleedinghearts (D. eximia & D. formosa) self-seed under rhodies & under other shrubs, they're even a little weedy, but very welcome weeds.
An additional point about planting under rhodies would be never to plant anything under them that will need someday to be dug up & divided, as this could only cause great damage to the rhodies roots to be digging around under there. Cyclamens are good because if they live to be a century old (and they can) they never need to be moved.
-paghat the ratgirl
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Rhododendrons have shallow roots so never cultivate the soil around a rhododendron and it is not a good idea to plant other plants under a rhododendron. If you stay outside the drip line of the rhododendron, you can plant companion plants that have deep roots.
Rhododendron and Azaleas are ericaceous plants, members of the heath family, which is called the "acid loving" family. Their special cultural requirements and shallow root structure make them incompatible with some plants. Astilbe is an Asian perennial herb which grows well with Rhododendron and Azaleas. Kalmia, Mahonia, Pieris, and Viburnum are evergreen shrubs which compliment Rhododendron and Azaleas. Many of the viburnum will grow tall and can be used behind Rhododendron or Azaleas.
Since rhododendrons have shallow roots and love partial shade, it is a common problem to find a suitable shade tree. Four trees are well known for having deep roots, being fast growing, and providing the "high shade" that is often recommended for rhododendrons and azaleas. These are Ginkgo biloba or the "Maidenhair tree", Metasequoia glyptostroboides commonly know as the "Dawn redwood", Nyssa sylvatica or the "Sour Gum", Quercus rubra or the "Northern Red Oak". Even with well behaved trees such as these it is always good to dig down about 5 inches between adjacent rhododendron or azaleas to prevent the intervention of other roots into their root space. It is not uncommon to find tree roots growing well beyond the drip line of a tree, so trees in the immediate vicinity are not the only concern.
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What about hardy cyclamen, Coum or Hedericolum? They love dry shade. These people are conscientious, know their stuff and give spcial deals for large numbers or at the end of the season. They pack'em like Meissen china. <A HREF="http://www.sunfarm.com /">Sunshine Farm and Gardens: US source of cycl.</A> zemedelec
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Do you know if you have R. maximum or R. catawbiense, or a different one? How much shade is there? What is the soil like? Where in the Northeast are you?
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I have always understood that there is nothing that will grow under mature Rhododendrons, as they are shallow rooted and their leaf canopy is to thick.
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David Hill
Abacus nurseries
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We have really neat native shade loving plants coming up under our mature rhododendron plantings such as trilliums, ferns, and jack-in-the-pulpits. They do very well together.
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