hostas, dogwood and ... ferns?

terratoma(7a)June 10, 2013

I'm new to the fern forum and would like your advice.
I planted hostas in a ring around a dogwood tree last year. The ring is 5' from the base of the tree. While digging the planting holes, I encountered no roots from other plants. Since the area within this ring gets plenty of shade (due to the low limbs and hostas), I am considering planting an assortment of ferns in it. But I've 'heard' that the roots of a dogwood tree are very shallow ... maybe only an inch or two beneath the soil surface ... and am concerned whether this is realistic. I don't want to endanger the tree, yet I'd like the ferns to have a fighting chance. : )
I guess my questions are:
1. Is it true that the dogwood tree roots are very shallow? (I experimented and used a trowel to remove the top couple of inches about three feet from the tree and did, in fact, encounter a network of fibrous roots. Not sure if these are from the tree but am assuming they are.)
2. If they are the dogwood's roots, how harmful would it be to plant ferns within 3-4' from the tree's trunk?
3. Can the tree and the ferns live together 'in peace and harmony'? : )
Hope you can help with this situation.

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