What to plant under cedar trees?

Discussion in 'Garden Design and Plant Suggestions' started by raughy, Apr 8, 2006.

  1. raughy

    raughy Member

    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Hi everyone, looking for some help: in our back garden (SW corner), we have a corner where there are 10 to 12 huge Cedar trees, and also a Cedar fence on the south side. Needless to say, there is hardly any light there, and it is very dry. Right now, under the trees is hard dirt and droppings from the trees. I would like to grow lots of shrubs and ground cover type things in this back corner.....any suggestions? The trees are from 3 or 4 feet apart to 10 feet apart, and some must be over 100 years old. Species native to BC (we live in Vancouver) would be best. Thanks for your help!
     
  2. Gordo

    Gordo Active Member

    Messages:
    329
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Camano Island, WA
    Mahonia nervosa (Low Oregon Grape)
    Polystichum munitum (Western Sword Fern)
    Epimedium
    Vancouveria (Inside-out Flower)
    Lonicera (Honeysuckle Species)
    Vaccinium parvifolium (Red Huckleberry)
    Vaccinium ovatum (Evergreen Huckleberry)
    Sambucus (Elderberry)
    Gaultheria Shallon (Salal) - be careful, this can crowd out other plants.
     
  3. silver_creek

    silver_creek Active Member

    Messages:
    484
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Bellingham, WA, usa
    Western Sword Fern will be the most successful in this competitive situation. Gordo has suggested some others that are also good choices, but may be a little harder to establish.
     
  4. raughy

    raughy Member

    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Thank you for your suggestions....would ammending the soil (adding topsoil), watering regularly, and/or mulching help to create an environment more conducive to growth?
     
  5. Gordo

    Gordo Active Member

    Messages:
    329
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Camano Island, WA
    I think that soil amendment would only be a short - term solution here. The long - term result would most likely be the expansion of the tree roots into these amended areas. Transplants will require supplemental watering for the first year or so until established. Some I listed may benefit from some additional watering during the driest part of the season - mid July - mid September, but all have thrived for me in the conditions you describe without a lot of care.
     
  6. raughy

    raughy Member

    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Thanks! Are there any non-native species I should consider as well...vinca, or something else that flowers a bit? I'm not committed to native species on principle or anything, just figured that they might have the best chance for survival. Thanks again for your help
     
  7. KarinL

    KarinL Well-Known Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    1,058
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Gordo has got it on amending the soil. I keep trying it under the huge overgrown hedging cedar, or whatever the thing is, that I live under courtesy of my neighbours, but it is always short term. The tree roots do indeed invade, it gets sucked dry, and so much litter falls on top that the plants get suffocated. Only certain plants survive, shrubs do the least well.

    Doing well for me: Euphorbia characias Wulfenii, Acanthus mollis, boxwood, and yes, certain ferns. I also have a Cotoneaster that is surviving (don't know the name, has a silvery leaf). For me this area requires watering from now through September; even the established plants. Mind you, it gets a bit of sun. Vinca does well at my neighbour's, but if it does well you don't need to bother growing anything else, the vinca will win.
     
  8. K Baron

    K Baron Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,032
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    North Vancouver, B.C., Canada
    I would work the soil then plant....Vinca minor....Iberis for more colour...Hostas...

    so many to choose from...Polystichum....Aucuba...good luck!
     
  9. Dunc

    Dunc Active Member

    Messages:
    95
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Port Alberni B.C. Canada
    If you are only looking for a quick solution, try planting fibreus begonias and impatients under the hedge. I used them in Coquitlam to cover the bare areas under my trimmed cedar hedge. They will tolerate the acidic soil and will forgive the dry soil, although they are annuals, they will suffice until you can determine which ground cover will last.
    I really was surprised that the impatients would live there but they bloomed nicely.
     
  10. GildedLily

    GildedLily Member

    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Abbotsford Canada
    Go ahead and amend the soil to establish your planting, but be prepared to mulch yearly. Leaf mould usually works great under trees, and it's free if you can rake it or get it from neighbors. Stick it in a garbage can, whiz around with the weed wacker and presto- fine chopped leaves. Mix that with a bit of compost or manure in fall and top dress, you'll get ideal forest floor conditions. If you're fond of colour, look into the painted ferns (Athyrium niponicum var. pictum) Great foliage without flowers. Or- my fave-plant sweet little things like epimediums, violas, dicentras and other shade lovers in your prepped soil and fill in the blanks with moss for them to pop out of in their season.
    Also try our native huckleberry V.ovatum or parvifolium for shrub structure.
     
  11. Michael F

    Michael F Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

    Messages:
    10,238
    Likes Received:
    37
    Location:
    Britain zone 8/9
    In the wild, cedars generally don't have any other plants growing beneath them. These are in southwest Turkey:
     

    Attached Files:

  12. Miry

    Miry Member

    Messages:
    180
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Gibsons BC Canada
    I am having the same problem. I talked to Sechelt Botanical Gardens and they suggested planting lots of sword ferns around the cedars. They also said to plant some brown ferns in between to give it added colour. The ferns eventually will get big and the weeds will be gone too. I also saw a garden with big cedars that had low growing sedum around the base of them. I liked the look of it.

    I never thought about growing some impatients for colour so that is a great idea.
     
  13. Anna Kadlec

    Anna Kadlec Active Member

    Messages:
    83
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    South Surrey, Canada
    I have the same issue in my backyard. Rhododendrons are doing very well (15+ years now), as are sword ferns, epimedium, acanthus mollis, euphorbia, and Solomon's Seal. Unfortunately, horsetail, blackberries, fireweed, and several other evil weeds are also doing just fine too :(
     
  14. HollyHok

    HollyHok Active Member

    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Ganges, SSI, Canada
    Lychnis (Rose Campion) grows well under cedar trees as well. Under one very old 1st growth western red I have planted pheasant eye bulbs which do very well.
    SOmeone already suggested a couple other ideas being Mahonia and Sword Fern.
     

Share This Page