What to plant under 2 large oaks in Lakeland

pinkgator(9)February 1, 2013

I have 2 large oak trees in front yard and there are rather large circles of mulch under them... I am just over looking at the mulch and having to put new mulch down all the time

I really know next to nothing about plants... I do have the IFAS "Florida-Friendly Landscaping Guide" and I have a beautiful book called Florida Landscape Plants...

Below are ideas I came up with from either of those books or the Internet... I would LIKE something that flowers, but would be fine if it doesn't.

1. Leather Fern (acrostichum danaeifolium)
2. Sweet Pepperbush (plethora alnifolia)
3. Philodendron
4. Rosy Leaf Caladium
5. Pink Astibe
6. Liriope

Please help!

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carolb_w_fl(zone 9/10)

Bromeliads? Or does it get too cold where you are?

Floridata has plant lists grouped by features such as shade tolerant, flowers, etc. - scroll down the page to see the Plant Tag Lists...

Here is a link that might be useful: Floridata.com

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 10:15AM
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You list some good choices, pink.

I have african iris and pentas growing under my huge oak.
Both flower nicely and require little care.

Maybe you would be interested in azaleas also. The downside to azaleas is they only bloom once a year.

Let us know what you decide and maybe post before and after shots?

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 10:29AM
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My fear is that I plant something that I have no idea that it'll kill or damage my oaks and I either have to pay way too much money to remove them, or worse- they fall on my house... And worse- fall onto my kids bedroom... All because I didn't do a full amount of research :-)

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 10:44AM
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I would be cautious about adding anything that requires much soil since it is possible to suffocate tree roots, or so I have been told, that being said I would use ferns and add in caladiums and bromieliads. Oak trees suck up a lot of moisture and I imaging it would be hard to start much directly under an oak tree, there is a reason that so many people do have ferns under their oak trees.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 11:12AM
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keiki(10 FL)

I also think bromeliads are the way to go. There are so many varieties to chose from I am sure you will find something you like. Also many people think of broms as pass a long plants and will share.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 11:24AM
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I found this photo... What plants are these?!?! I love the mix!

Here is a link that might be useful: Under oaks

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 11:44AM
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variegated shell ginger in the back, looks to be some type of elephant ear in the center with some type of begonia just left of center, varigated flax lily and asiatic jasmine in the very front.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 1:09PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Politicians? Lawyers?

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 4:21PM
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I have the same issue, I have grown gingers, Justicia, Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectrabilis), Nun's Orchids, Ajuga, Clivia miniata, Wild Coffee, Curcuma, Coleus, Australian Violet, Huechera, and Firespike. Many of the Cordyline plants like dappled shade. Persian Shield also does well with just a little sun, too. Daphnes like shade and my Dwarf Gardenia gets dappled shade. All these plants are growing under an oak canopy in my yard now for at least a year. The Bleeding Heart got hit during a cold winter and has not come back well.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 7:24PM
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shavedmonkey (Harvey in South Fl.)Z10b

I have pineapples under my oak tree. They are happy. I think they like the tannic acid that is a result of the oak. I dug a small hole and added a gallon of compost. There is sun that penetrates through the oak. Some areas under an oak may be without any sun. This will be important in choosing the right plants. Good luck.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 12:45AM
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I thnk white caladiums look nice under oaks. Their white color livens up the shade, and they do well without much light.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 5:51PM
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annafl(z9b/10a Sarasota)

Hi pinkgator,

Can you be more specific about where you live? Is it zone 9a or 9b? Makes a big difference to some of these plants.

In your choices, astilbe is unlikely to do well as it needs more cold. Philodendron you have to look up the type individually for cold tolerance, but if you are 9b, there are many types that would work under your oaks. Leather ferns need a lot of moisture and would be unlikely to get that under oaks unless you sprinkle quite a bit or are able to water it with a hose regularly. Liriope are likely to do well. Caladiums are tricky. If you live in 9b, they have a decent chance of coming back each year. In 9a, I doubt it, but you could plant them as annual bulbs and they would be beautiful under oaks.

I am in 9b/10a Sarasota, and I have loads of oaks. I have variegated ginger, understory palms (chinese fan palms, wallichias, arengas, cabada and several others), many types of philodendrons, bird's nest anthuriums, landscape begonias, white bird of paradise, firespikes, pentas, macho ferns, fishtail ferns, holly ferns, heliconias, cast iron plants for extremely dry, non-irrigated areas, beautyberry bushes, wild coffee, brunsfelsia, cycads (dioons, encephalartos, zamias, coonties), powderpuffs, crotons, acalyphas,shrimp plants, justicia golden flame, and many others I'm sure. The trick is to not disturb the roots when you plant, choose something that won't require much irrigation (live oaks can decline if they get pampered too much with water, thick mulch, added soil on top of roots), and add as little as possible in terms of additional soil or thick mulch.

I love Meem's garden (Hoe and Shovel). In that photo you see variegated alpinia zerumbet (ginger), liriope, dianellas, landscape begonias (red and large round lily-pad types), holly ferns and saw palmettos. Browse her site and you'll get loads of ideas! Good luck and have fun.


    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 4:49PM
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judyk_2008(9 DeLeon Sprs)

When I lived in Lakeland I had a beautiful Live Oak in my front yard that had large roots on top of the ground. I put sprigs of Swedish Ivy around and between the roots. It was beautiful when it filled in and was blooming. When I was working in the yard, people would stop and tell me how much they enjoyed it. The roots are shallow and it would freeze if you had a hard freeze, but it grows so rapidly. You would only have to buy one plant to start again.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 9:52AM
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Impatiens do great under oaks & are very shallow rooted. If you can get the old fashioned kind , not hybrids, they will reseed themselves every year. They come in all colors.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 11:03AM
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L_in_FL(8B/9A Border, NW FL)

Are the old-fashioned impatiens susceptible to the fungus that is wiping out the nursery impatiens?

Here is a link that might be useful: Impatiens Downy Mildew

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 12:53PM
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