Gardening Under Trees

Discussion in 'HortForum' started by HortLine, Jun 9, 2004.

  1. HortLine

    HortLine Active Member 10 Years

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    This is for anyone thinking of putting a garden around and under trees. The two things to think about when choosing plants are sunlight and rain. Plants that grow well under trees MUST be drought tolerant unless you want to water every other day. They also must be able to grow with less sunlight then most garden plants. We thought that reccomending a few plants here would be a good idea.

    • Epimedium (this is a genus name, the people at your garden centre will be able to help you find it). There are many cultivars and they vary from 15-50cm (6-20 inches) tall. They make a great ground cover being evergreen, and do best in light to partial shade. You can get species that spread well and ones that form small clumps. If you supplement your soil with peat moss or compost they will be spectacular. They should be planted in the spring or fall, and a light compost every spring will keep them looking good. This goes for the following plants as well. Epimedium will however, grow well in even depleated soil under old trees with no additions necessary.
    • Geranium macrorrhizum, it has several varieties and is a lovely spreading, evergreen, groundcover.
    • Euphorbia species, specifically robbiae, spread well and do fine under trees. A caution here however, many Euphorbia species have a latex sap that can cause severe burn-like rashes. You should be very careful working with them, always wear gloves and a full length shirt.
    • Arum italicum, vanishes in the dry summers, but is a fine winter and spring ground cover, with a long leaf edged in white. Leaves emerge in late fall, grow beautifully all winter, and begin to die back in May. This is a good ground cover under deciduous trees or on the edges of woodland plantings. After June, mulch over the ground where the arum has gone dormant.
    • If you're thinking about native plants they may need a bit of watering compared to the other plants listed here. However some nice shade plants that are fairly drought tolerent include; Dicentra formosa (bleeding heart), Blechnum spicant (Deer fern), Cornus canadensis (bunchberry), and Asarum canadense (Wild Ginger). But because these are native plants they expect water, and with the dry summers we've been having lately it would be a good idea to water these ones every week or so in the summer.
    Hope this helps!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 9, 2004
  2. Trish

    Help! What grows best under Arbutus trees. Do they produce tannic acid and is there something you can put in the soil to control the tannic acid? Nothing seems togrow except Rhododenrons. Thank you, Trish
     
  3. HortLine

    HortLine Active Member 10 Years

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    Arbutis menziesii

    We can find nothing about Arbutis producing tanic acid (but hemlock trees do). Arbutus menziesii likes acidic soil, and that's what most soil in this area is. Did you try to grow plants that preferrered basic soils? Also Arbutus trees can handle pretty dry soil, and so your problem could be the other plants you tried needed more water (or the water they got was taken by the Arbutus). You MUST plant something that can tolerate low water under Arbutus, because the Arbutus like it dry and watering too much makes them unhappy.
    Try one of the suggested plants (especially Epimedium it should do wonderfully). And if the Epimedium (trailing) grow too much it's okay to hack it back in the winter, they are very tough little plants. Another small plant (and this one's a native AND evergreen) that can take fairly dry soils is Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (bearberry also known as Kinnikinnick), but it likes more light. It might be good if you only have one tree that's fairly open. If your problem with Rhododendrons was their size, there are many dwarf varieties availble.
     
  4. sue1

    sue1 Active Member 10 Years

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    Re: Trish

    Here's 2 low-growing plants that do just fine under my arubtus trees: Dolce (Key Lime Pie) and Sweet Woodruff (actually a herb). Also my Toadflax is very close to the trees too, and are quite happy there.
     

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