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Planting under norway maple

Posted by osiris1975 5b (My Page) on
Sun, Jul 5, 09 at 10:29

Hi,

This is a follow up to another post I made earlier. I have a Norway Maple in our yard which has a radius of about 8 feet in which virtually nothing is growing. Its also very shady underneath.

I believed that the lack of growth was due to the shade and more importantly due to acidity in the soil. So I got a soil pH meter (the kind you stick in the ground) and it said the ph was about 6.9, which is not what I expected. Do people have experience with these meters and are they accurate?

So, assuming that the meter is not accurate, and the pH is on the acidic side, I thought that Gaultheria procumbens (Wintergreen) would be a good choice because:
1) Its ground cover, spreading plant
2) Likes acidic soil
3) Tolerates shade and grows in my zone.
4) Produces edible fruit
5) I believe this plant grows under maple trees in the wild naturally.

The only drawback I can find on this plant is that it is a slow grower. Does anyone have experience growing this plant in their home garden?


http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/factsheets/groundcover/gaultheria_procumbens.html


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Planting under norway maple

There are several challenges to growing plants underneath a Norway maple (Acer platanoides). You've noticed the dense shade, but there are also the problems of dry soil and allelopathic roots. Like all maples, Norways have aggressive and shallow roots which quickly absorb the moisture out of the root zone. Norway roots also exude a toxin that inhibits the root growth of other plants. Not to mention this is a very invasive tree, and spreads rampantly via seeds.

I think you'll have a hard time growing anything but the most rugged of plants underneath a Norway. The wintergreen is probably not aggressive nor drought-tolerant enough, but you could give it a try.

I used to have 5 large Norways in my yard, but have had 4 of them removed. There is still one large tree left and the only thing that grows happily underneath it is Vinca minor.


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RE: Planting under norway maple

Vinca minor looks like a good choice too, does it matter which variety? The nursery near me has 4 different varieties.


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RE: Planting under norway maple

Pachysandra.


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RE: Planting under norway maple

Hi,

I havnt posted here in a long time but certainly know about Norway maples and their issues, terrene described th e problem, shade that blocks a lot of moisture and the root problems,

Right around the tree is a ground cover of lamium )spotted dead nettle) this does great, and has been under the tree for 10 years or so. There just a few years and expanding is the geramium machrozzium(SP! I know I didnt spell it) I think common name is big root? It is doing really well and spreading into a large clump.

Also some hellebores are there as well. never get really big but they flower and grow big leaves every year., some lily of the vally. As are some Iris and daylilies at the sunnier edge of the tree (depending on the suns angle)

a number of plants that went under the tree small like hostas and some othe rhellebores just dont make it. It is a tough growing condition.


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RE: Planting under norway maple

Osiris, if you go for Vinca minor, I would purchase the species, not a cultivar. The species is quite vigorous and has the shiny solid green foliage and purple flowers in Spring. A cultivar might have variegated foliage, or some other flower color, and might be prettier, but is likely to be more expensive and less vigorous (still might work though).

Pachysandra or English ivy would work too, also the plain old orange daylilies (Hemerocallis fulva). Bear in mind that each of these plants are also non-native invasive species in and of themselves, so they will eventually need to be controlled. You should see the horde of Vinca minor growing in my yard!

But it takes a vigorous plant to grow successfully under a Norway.


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RE: Planting under norway maple

You didn't ask for this advice, but if you can cut that sucker down, do it. Not only do you have one Norway Maple, but every spring it rains down thousands and thousands of incipient norways, known as 'samaras' which are spawn of the devil.

I am having a hard time getting vinca established under youngish sugar maples. But it can be done. Epimedium will grown slowly in dense dry shade as well as lamium. It is just an awful lot of supervision has to be given to get a ground cover to survive there.


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RE: Planting under norway maple

Thanks for all the advice. Between your advice and some intensive internet searching, I'm thinking to go with a combination of vinca minor, barberry, and nandina. I also have a bunch of ferns growing naturally in one area of my yard by an old fence I am eventually going to take down. I am thinking to transplant them to grow under this maple tree, would they survive?
I like the idea of using english ivy to fill in the gaps, but i don't want it to eventually kill the tree. Though I wouldn't mind cutting the tree down I just can't afford the expense, and it'd be a tricky cut since its about 15 yards from the house and right next to some power lines.


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RE: Planting under norway maple

Hi,
I didn't read every post carefully, but I'm surprised about barberry. It will not stay compact in the shade, and if it is a purple or red variety it will green up in the shade. Also, it is identified as a problem plant, and I believe it is on the invasive list in MA. Soon you won't be able to buy it here. Which is not to say buy it while you can, but please give some thought as to whether it is the best choice of a plant.
Taking down trees is very expensive. I sympathize.

Marie


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RE: Planting under norway maple

Yes, after I learned its invasive, I've dropped it from my list. I'm now looking at nandina, with some epimediums and/or day lilies and possibly transplanting some stargazers which are doing great in another part shade area in my yard in front of the nandina, and some ground cover in front of those. The vinca minor and/or perhaps some dead nettles and lamiastrum.


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RE: Planting under norway maple

I have several nandinas, and they are much happier in sun than in shade. One that's planted about 6 feet from the east side of the house, which gets sun until at least 2 PM, grows along the ground towards the east, apparently looking for yet more sun.

Since your zone isn't shown (you might want to fix that, on your member's preference page) hardiness may also be an issue with nandina. I'm in zone 7. and I'm not sure how well they grown north (or inland) from here.

What works for me under a neighbor's maple: feverfew (even in the deep shade), perennial foxglove (not as beautiful as the biennial, but decent), mayapple, bloodroot, early bulbs, and golden creeping jenny. Ferns will probably not be happy there, because they prefer damp sites. I have shrubs outside the drip edge that partly block the view of this patch of ground, and I may eventually use it as a shady seating area, with a few native stones and mulch for a "floor."

Ivy will not kill this tree, but will certainly prevent anything else from growing under it. What little moisture is available to the plants you want to establish will be quickly taken by the ivy - this may be true of the vinca too. A solid patch of ivy or vinca would be fine, but they don't combine very well with other plants.


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RE: Planting under norway maple

Thanks for the advice digging, I'm in zone 5b, its listed in my first post of the thread, I updated it in my profile a few days ago as well. Not sure why its not in the follow up thread.
From what I've seen nandina is hardy to zone 6. We are in 5b, but the area it'd be planted is pretty sheltered from wind. It might be better to pick something else though.

It sounds like I shouldn't combine too many plants from what you've said. I might just take the easy fix and have a solid patch of ivy.


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RE: Planting under norway maple

I have a Norway Maple and it has been difficult to find something that would grow under it. I've tried two shrubs that didn't work. An Inkberry Holly and a Ninebark 'Dart's Gold' I had to move them both out to save them. I have hosta there that seems to be doing fine, surprising me. I added epimedium that also has no trouble growing there. Viola labradorica manages. Solomon's Seal also looks fine under the dripline and actually is almost the height of a small shrub. European ginger and variegated Carex always look pretty good. I don't always remember to water there either and they have survived. Ferns have not. I wonder if you have done a search on GW about planting Ivy? I seem to remember seeing lots of unhappy people who did. I have never grown it. I also have another Maple with vinca under it and it does fine, but it is bordered by the driveway so it is not a problem keeping it in bounds. I have had trouble with vinca in another part of the yard, where it was much too aggressive and I had to rip it out.

Good luck!


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RE: Planting under norway maple

Good idea, PM2, I hadn't thought of Viola labradorica; it does really well in dense shade, and might be happy in a dry spot, where the slugs wouldn't damage it so much.

Recenty planted shrubs near our neighbor's maple (just at, or outside, the drip line) have to have soaker hoses around them if they're going to have any chance of survival.


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RE: Planting under norway maple

I started seed from NEWFS two years ago and was delighted to end up with 56 seedlings. [g] So I have them under a couple of trees. They really do reseed very well and although I don't enjoy the average violet, I just love these little beauties and am happy with their reseeding.

I have been considering trying a Pieris or a Kerria there next. Someone recommended the Pieris. I added one last fall to another area that is almost in equivilent shade and it did very well over the winter and looks nice and healthy. So I might try that in my deepest shade corner.


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RE: Planting under norway maple

I have a mountain fire pieris in my front of the house bed, its a shady area but I think somewhat dry. It doesn't seem to be doing so well. I am hoping the recent rainfall will help, but I'm also thinking to move it away from the house a bit so it will be exposed to more rainfall.
Is it my imagination or do shrubs grow away from the house if they are too close?


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RE: Planting under norway maple

They will lean towards the sun, if that's what you mean. My pieris is the kind with the red tint to the new foliage, is that mountain fire? It's growing nicely in pretty much full shade, but in a damp location (where the shade is mostly from the garage, and it's far enough away from the building that there's no "rain shadow" effect. No blooms, but it's more of a foliage plant anyway.


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RE: Planting under norway maple

If pieris is too dry it may be susceptible to lacewing.


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RE: Planting under norway maple

The only tree I have on my urban lot is what I thought was a Norway maple. It takes up an entire corner of my yard, so pretty much a quarter of my property. It took a while to do the entire area, but I have a pathway walking straight towards the trunk that then splits into two paths, one going off to the side where I have a deck and the other simply circles the tree and joins the other path. I have lamium, hay scented ferns, blue columbines, corydalis lutea, fringed bleeding hearts, and a couple hosta growing right at the base of the tree and then under the rest of the canopy to either side of the path I have more of the same, plus brunnera, 5 or 6 other ferns, epimediums, European ginger, creeping forest type phloxes, dozens of hosta varieties, Solomon's Seal, Jacob's ladder, lungwort, sweet woodruff, Lady's mantle, and toad lillies. I do have to water during dry spells and in some areas the plants barely flower, if at all, but they're green and growing and better than clay, rocks, and weeds, which is what was there when I started. I keep a thick layer of cedar mulch around everything but I plan on switching to shredded leaves for mulch once I get a shredder. I do realize you can't heap soil and mulch ontop of tree roots without killing the tree so I didn't go crazy, but the couple inches of mulch I have down has been there for 5-6 years now and the tree is fine. In some areas I dug the ground over, but in others I was lucky I could hack a hole in the cement-like clay and masses of roots big enough to shoehorn the plant in. In that area I stuck with cast iron plants like the hay scented ferns and basic hostas like lancifolia - nothing fussy. I figured what lives lives and I'll worry about replacing what dies. Nothing's died yet!

Lisa


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listen to lisa// and the very BEST plant for dry shade

"Listen to Lisa" hmmmm, sounds like a good name for a rock band.....

no really, her list is a good comprehensive one. The one plant I would add, the VERY BEST plant for spreading quickly in dry shade and providing 3 seasons of handsome eye-catching foliage 14"H, is Persicaria Lance Corporal. I plant it in all by trouble spots and it spreads like crazy, but is also a cinch to pull out or dig/divide/transplant any time of year. It really should be renamed "The Cast Iron Perennial w/ the Purple V." Google image it. It is a FANTASTIC plant.

for shrubs,red wing euonymus and common honeysuckle bushes will grow in powder/dirt and dense shade.Interestingly enough, ilex blue maid (and others) will as well, though they look more like a 2' shiny green ground cover as they put all their normally vertical energy into their gangly sun-reaching stems crawling out along the ground.

best,
mindy


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RE: Planting under norway maple

Winged euonymus and common honeysuckle are both highly invasive; I would not recomend them for any purpose. Holly is a great suggestion, it really can thrive under a maple; I have several (straight species, American Holly, volunteers) under the neighbor's maple and they do provide a lot of privacy.


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RE: Planting under norway maple

Nice to know about the Holly. I love the contrast of the dark green leaves and the red berries. I have a "royal couple" planted in the front bed, though, so I may look to your other suggestions. The hardest thing I've found is actually finding these plants, it seems most of them aren't available at the big-box stores, and the nearest garden centers to me are Weston Nursery in Hopkinton (nice but expensive) and River's Edge Greenhouse in Framingham (which I was underwhelmed with).


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