What grows under pine trees?

mariesgardenDecember 4, 2002

Need help finding plants that will survive under pine. Also what can be done with all those pine needles? These are 40' to 60' needle pine and spruce trees with most branches removed up to about 10'. There's @ least 1/2 acre of them.

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waplummer(Z5 NY)

I would suggest limbing up the pine trees to 20 feet or higher and removing some of the spruces. That will give uou a lot more light and then you can grow quite a number of our native woodland plants except those that don't like xeric conditions. As for the pine needles they make an excellent mulch and don't require shredding like leaves of decidious trees.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2002 at 8:23PM
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bsisemore(NE AR z7)

Did the same thing this summer with some pecan trees that had been let go. I trimmed some lower hanging limbs (trimmed to keep the vines from climbing them) This did let in alot more light and didn't affect the afternoon shade from the tree, which was all we were getting anyway.

as for the needle...at least you're not weeding under them

    Bookmark   December 5, 2002 at 1:15PM
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Thanks for your thoughts. You've helped me to see that the first thing to do is trim those trees a bit higher. Marie

    Bookmark   December 6, 2002 at 12:40PM
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azaleas/rhododendruns/wild hydrangea/dianthus (bleeding heart?)ferns, toad lillies, all love that acidic soil.

Pine straw is terrific mulch, I agree. Also, if you're into doing a woodland pathway, you can dig the path out, and fill in with loads and loads of pinestraw for a "cottage look". The straw stays compact and lightens up over time to a golden color.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2002 at 2:56PM
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spec4lover(z7 VA)

Regarding paths from pinestraw... You might want to make the path on flat ground. Otherwise, you may find it sliding underfoot, leading to a fall. The first time, it's not so bad, but it gets annoying...I used to live in GA and had lots of pinestraw on our beds/banks of azaleas. It was sometimes a challenge to work among them.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2002 at 12:33PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

I've had problems planting under a huge ancient pine where the soil is (was) compacted clay, acid, and dries out very quickly. I've added composted manure Spring and Summer for a few seasons, and planted things that can be potentially TOO vigerous for average garden soil, and it's beginning to look pretty good! Obedient plant, iris, campanula punctata, evening primrose, epimedium, Japanese anemone, monkshood, hydrangea...these things do need some supplemental water, though. Have found some long blooming hardy geraniums that are doing great in dry shade, g. nodosum 'Svelte Lilac', white eyed and stays fresh and bright for weeks and weeks. Also self seeds, a plus in this case.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2003 at 11:39PM
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dazed81(Illinois Zone 5)

HOSTAS!!! I have two huge pines that are so OLD and I have tons of different hostas and ferns under them. I have had soil and it wasn't overturned for at least 30 years. The grass naturally was dead under there because of the needles falling and I just planted hostas. I didn't even have to ammend the soil, they just took right off. I tried an azalea and it did fine the first year but died this year, but I think that was because I was TOLD it was bred for my zone but the winter was too harsh on it. The pine needles make a great natural mulch and you harly ever see a weed. it's my favorite part of my yard. Low maintenance and all. Good luck. This picture is a couple of years old (when I first planted the hostas...) but it will give you a general idea. I have two pics...
Here's the first

And the second is the link below:

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   May 14, 2003 at 1:14PM
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becky_jean(z8 GA)

since we have tons of pine & Live Oak here, most folks plant azaleas around the pine, then as needles fall, we just rake into the azalea "bed" continuously.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2003 at 5:59AM
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Soapmaker(z8 NETX)

We have not been in N.E. Texas long and I would like to know the best way to grow a great veg. garden like Lettuce, spinish, mellons, cukes, squash, broccli, etc.etc. among the many pines on our new place in N.E. Texas.


Here is a link that might be useful: Caddo Lake

    Bookmark   April 11, 2004 at 9:11PM
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We have 7 mature pines and have had very good luck with ferns, snapdragons, and cineraria 'stellata'. It's too late to plant the cineraria now but if you put out seed in the fall you will be rewarded late winter. They do reseed quite heavy and you will end up with them everywhere but, we have found if you take a hoe to the areas you don't want they are very easy to controll. The colors range from white to a deep blue-purple. They only bloom once but hold for a good 6-8 weeks. We pull out cineraria late spring and plant impatiens trim back the snaps and they give us another bloom late summer.
If you want seed let me know but i think you can get plants at anniesannuals.com
Good Luck

    Bookmark   April 18, 2004 at 11:11AM
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I have 2 large spruce in my backyard and have planted a rather extensive shade garden under them. Ocassionally I will supplement water in the summer, and usually add compost in the late fall. The soil is on the dry side, but I keep the bed well-mulched in the summer. Their are many shallow fibrous roots but there doesn't seem to be a problem. I have many hostas, rhododendron, ferns, tiarella, solomon's seal, toad lily and even a patch of mahonia that I think makes a nice complement to the bark of the spruce. Go for it!

    Bookmark   April 22, 2004 at 12:41PM
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Use the needles as mulch. You don't have to worry about acidity of soil because of needles (old wife's tale). The biggest challenges are compact soil and lack of moisture (due to competiting tree roots and restricted rain due to canopy of mature trees).

I would mix a layer of compost into the top 4-6" of soil before covering with mulch (the needles are fine). Then snake a soaker hoses around your bed for watering. water 2-3 times per week by giving it a good long soaking in summer.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2004 at 5:28PM
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lily of the valley and english ivy

    Bookmark   July 6, 2004 at 2:14PM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

creeping charlie grows really well under my pine trees ;-)

    Bookmark   July 8, 2004 at 6:06PM
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magazinewriter(z5 Mich)

You guys are great!!
Nearly every time I have a question, someone else asks it first!
The front of the bed where my 3 tall pines grow is filled with very healthy perennial candytuft -- but that's because the sun reaches there. The candytuft all faces outward and it abruptly stops where the sun lets off. I have a small clump of asiatic lilies growing in the midst of the candytuft and it is just blooming now. Looks great surrounded by a veritable hedge of green.
However, behind the candytuft is nothing but pine needles.
The problem is not primarily the pine needles, as someone else pointed out. It's the shade and the dry compacted soil.
I will try the compost and the soaker hoses next spring and see what happens!

    Bookmark   July 8, 2004 at 11:43PM
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Pine needles are great for keeping slugs away!!!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2004 at 4:13PM
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I planted ten violets under my huge, old spruce tree. That was two years ago. I have hundreds of violets now. The area is covered, with them. They are beautiful in the spring when they bloom and are green all summer long.

I use the pine needles under my Nikko blue hydrangea. The blue color is gorgeous.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2004 at 8:02PM
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scallopbay(z8A NW FL Coast)

Hostas, impatiens, ferns, perilla magilla, coleus, caladium. In our pure sand yard, my shade garden under the pines does better than those in the sun.

1 Like    Bookmark   July 18, 2004 at 9:16PM
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PurdueDavid(z5 IN)

My pines are limbed up only 10' and it works fine. I have rhodos, azalea, hosta, pulmonaria, pieris japonica, brunera, day lilies, lamium, many different ferns, hydrangea, solomon's seal, and impatiens all doing quite well. I do water regularly.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2004 at 10:54PM
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Need help to find the best hedge next to pine tree. the sapace next to the pine in one side have full sun and no shade. In the other side of garden there is morning shade due to higher branch of pine tree. the lower branch up to 2 m has been removed. I am thinking of sheenas Gold or murraya? and standard roses in between. are they a good choice.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2006 at 7:32PM
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what about zone 4? perenial flowers and shrubs under pine trees. often they say zone 4 but don't make it. Any suggestions?

    Bookmark   July 28, 2007 at 12:06AM
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I planted an oakleaf hydrangea by my pine. The fall colors are striking if it gets enough sun. If not, the leaves are still interesting and its artistically compatable w/the pine. T

    Bookmark   October 12, 2007 at 1:03AM
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We have some very tall pines that get good morning sun. My dh installed drip irrigation under them and I have a number of roses that grew and bloomed well under them. I use pine needles for mulch too.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2007 at 10:01AM
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We have two 25 year old pines (Austrian pines) that provide wonderful pine needles for an acidic mulch. Now that they have got really tall, we are going to de-limb them to around 8 feet and plant some azaleas and rhodies or hydrangeas.

Ferns, hostas, daylillies, pachysandra, ribbon grass, and astilbes will all do wonderful. The biggest problem is light...take out the lower limbs and they will take off!!

    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 12:32PM
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Hellabores are wonderful under pines! Ferns are great too, especially autumn brilliance. The shorter ferns tend to get buried under the pine needles, taller ones look much better and are less maintenance. If you want to grown ivy, make it your only plant because it WILL take over. I got rid of all of mine so I could grown some other plants. Ivy also gets covered by the needles, being a ground cover.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 6:42PM
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I recently read that pink lady slippers actually require white pine be above them, because there is a fungus in the soil under white pines that is necessary for pink lady slippers to grow. This explains why pink lady slippers are growing in only one section of the woodlands in my backyard--the section under teh white pines. I wonder if there is anything else that actually requires white pine to be above it. I'm in NH.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2013 at 1:35PM
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I have 2 White pines, and thought nothing could grow under them. I may try Rhodedendron Maximum, but will surely have to irrigate now and then.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 5:18AM
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