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
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.
| 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,
| spent enough time hiking to notice that in the woods, there's not much
| 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
| 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
| Let's assume for the sake of discussion that if lack of water is the
| I'm willing to correct that. I've got this new high-tech thing called a
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 :-))
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
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.
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!"
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.
Pam - gardengal wrote:
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
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