What to plant under a pine tree

LoriAnn1044July 30, 2012

My neighbors pine tree branches hang over my back garden. I have successfully and not to successfully planted a number of different plants back there. A white picket fence divides our yards, but I always have millions of pine needles, small branches and pine cones in my garden, so I'm quite sure the soil is acidic. I'm wondering if a clematis vine or another kind of perennial vine would work back there. Any suggestions? Thanks for any help.

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

What's your location....what kind of pine? Any chance of pictures?

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 10:57PM
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barnhardt9999(8a)

Wintergreen as a ground cover might work. If there is something to climb you could try hardy kiwi vines. I hear they will fruit, albeit lower yields, in partial sun.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 1:37PM
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greenthumbzdude

Trumpet Creeper can handle acid soils. The flowers are large and are attractive to hummingbirds.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 6:34PM
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gardengal48

Pine needles will not make the soil significantly more acidic than it already is - that is a very common garden myth. Besides, the vast majority of plants prefer somewhat acidic soil anyway.

What is limiting your planting selection will be lack of direct sunlight and the tree's large and more aggressive root system. Planting within the root zone of any large tree results in significant competition for soil moisture and nutrients.......and the tree always wins :-)

Sunlight can sometimes be increased by limbing up and/or thinning out but not a good option with a neighbor's tree. What you really want to look for are plants that will tolerate dry shade. There are a good number of choices depending on your zone....unfortunately, clematis is not one of them.

You might consider something like a climbing hydrangea. Tolerant of quite a lot of shade, once established this vine does not need a lot of water. Mine grew quite happily at the base of a very large Douglas fir. You will need to provide attention in the way of watering and fertilizing until the vine gets established but after that, it should be good.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 2:45PM
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ontnative(5b Can/USDA 4)

I have the same situation as LoriAnn, a neighbour's four pine trees hanging over the fence on the northeast side of my property. I agree with gardengal. The real problem is finding plants that tolerate dry shade. This part of my garden is on a slope, further increasing the dryness. The pine trees grow above my garden on the slope. Solomon's Seal grows very well here, as does the native Blue Wood Aster (aster cordifolius).

    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 11:16AM
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ncrescue

Rohdea japonica is a non-native that thrives in dry shade, including under pines. Actea racemosa (black cohosh) does fine for me under pines as do hellebores, but they tend to spread a great deal.Epimediums are also some non-natives that do well in dry shade. Lots of possiblities of you want mainly green but not many in the flowering group, in my experience.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 8:18AM
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estsidelawnservic123

Pine tree create acidic soil, and shade nearby plants from sun Therfore to improve your plants' chances of thriving, turn over the soil at least a foot down.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 6:58AM
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jaco42(z5NEOhio)

You may want to remember , trumpet creeper will throw up suckers anywhere from a couple inches from the mother plant to 3 feet away, or more, and once planted can be very difficult to eradicate, should you decide that's what you want to do.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 7:38AM
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kchd(7b/8a MS)

Depending on where you live, consider the following. They work for me in the southeast US.
American beautyberry - a lovely native shrub that loves to live beneath pines
Carolina jessamine - a native vine that also does well under pines
Native azaleas do well beneath pines & like the acidic soil conditions
Native vaccinium sp. will grow beneath pines, too.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2013 at 11:01PM
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GraceNmercy

Kchd made some great suggestions. You'll see most of those species growing in pine forest here in the south. I'm getting ready to plant rabbiteye and high bush blueberries under a 200+ year pine on our place. Blueberries have attractive flowers in spring and have beautiful red fall foliage ...not to mention the edible berries it produces in the summer.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 10:38PM
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Sainty1

We have a fir tree against the back fence and want to plant a few camellias under it to give privacy for us and the neighbours. Rather than making raised beds which doesn't look very natural can I put the bed underground. (This will mean removing a few roots of the fir) This will give the camellia a space of its own to grow without other roots. Any suggestions really appreciated.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 11:43AM
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edlincoln(6A)

I like American Holley. Acid tolerant, and is an understory plant.

Maybe lily of the valley?

Be careful about raised beds around a tree...most trees die if you surround their trunks with dirt. As far as the sunken bed, be sure to not go too deep...most tree roots are actually pretty close to the surface.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 2:06PM
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jcalhoun(8b Mobile County AL)

If the soil is somewhat sandy native dogwoods and redbuds would works. If you want vines, Carolina jessamines and coral honeysuckles do very well in pines, all the pines around here have them. Hummingbirds love the coral honeysuckles (not to be mistaken with the invasive Japanese honeysuckle).

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 11:47PM
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princessgrace79(8 PNW)

For fall and winter, hardy cyclamen is one of the only things I have that seem to grow ok at the base of our pine tree. It flowers in late summer/fall (now basically) and then makes a pretty groundcover until early spring. I also have a lot of succulents and euphorbia but that is a few feet away as the slope goes downward, and gets afternoon sun there.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 1:23AM
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