Shady Places and Acid Loving Plants

Planting Under Pine Trees

Shady locations are a challenge, but add a pine tree and it becomes even trickier. My experience has been with very large pines that really didn't have room underneath them to do anything with the space, so I was surprised and delighted when my Old Fashioned Tips subscribers came through with all of the following creative suggestions for planting under pines!

Strawberries and Hostas

I have a spruce tree in my backyard that is the bane of my existence. No grass will grow in a good quarter of the yard because of that tree. However, I have plenty of periwinkle and wild strawberry growing around there. When that tree gets cut down (soon I hope), I am going to move the periwinkle to the flower bed in the front, which gets mostly shade all day. It seems to me the periwinkle makes a good "filler-in" kind of plant and likes the shade. Most of my yard is shaded which makes it hard to grow much of anything pretty. ~Martha

I've had really good luck with strawberries...they don't need a lot of sun, seem to love the acid and the layer of needles takes the place of straw that many folks use to keep the berries out of the dirt. Only problem is that the birds nesting in the pines usually beat me to the fruit. ~Annie

Susie recommends hostas under pine and spruce trees for Midwestern gardeners!

Acid Loving Plants

Azaleas love the acidity of the pine needles. I have always put pine needles around my bushes every fall and they love them. I think rhododendrons like acid soil, too. Hope this helps....Lisa

For under the pines, it the area does get a little bit of light, try the small white Azalea's, the semi wintergreen kind. They love the acid ground as long as it is fertile enough. ~Susette

the shade under pine trees is WONDERFUL for azaleas. The acid is exactly what the azaleas need. Plus if it is a pine that sheds its needles you can use them for mulch. I haven't tried this, but hydrangeas do well in the shade and if the soil is acidic it will make blue flowers without having to add Miracid ( or another acid plant food to the soil) ~Michele White

How about lime added to the soil (to bring the ph down some) and put in acid loving plants rhododendrons, azaleas, some hydrangeas (Nikko blue). ~Michelle

Try planting azaleas and rhododendrons under pines - they like the extra acidity. Also try hostas in the shade. Another shade ground cover is ivy and periwinkle/ creeping myrtle - at least they have worked for me. Coral bells also do well in partial shade. Any light colored leaf plants (dusty miller, etc) tend to do well in the shade. There are many others. Simply look in the other gardens and yards in your area for more ideas. A succulent that I have come to hold very dear in dry area gardening and also ground cover is Trailing Ice Plant - has a very beautiful pinkish-purple or yellow bloom. Good luck and happy gardening to all. Nancy

More Under the Pine Ideas!

Silver nettle grows fantastic under trees. I have it growing under Fir trees, almost as bad as Pine. Tolerates growing conditions that have little water and partial/not very much shade. ~Patty

What my husband and I did is this... When we were newly married we bought a small yarded house.. Two big pine trees were centered on each side of the yard.. Couldn't hardly walk around them! Anyhow, my husband cut the branches off as high as he could reach, so that we both could walk easily under them, then we simply planted grass... It was wonderful! The softest, thicket grass I've ever had...Crystal

I would suggest Lily-of-the-Valley. They can grow in total shade and like acidic ground. I,also, have irises growing under my evergreens. ~Valerie from Alberta, Canada

I put sweet woodruff under my pines and it has gone crazy. Other plants that survived nicely are hostas, hardy geraniums and bleeding heart. Lily of the valley made it, too. Also some ferns did fine under there - not ostrich or cinnamon, but some of the varieties that are more tolerant of dry conditions. I tried perennial vinca and euonymous, but neither of those did much. ~Toni in Michigan

We have had great success with Lily-of-the-valley under our pine trees. I credit those who lived in our house previously, because I never would have tried! They stay green and lush all summer, packed together under the pines! Our neighbors have good luck with hostas under their pines. ~Amy Elise

I have had a lot of luck with wildflowers. A local garden centre should carry a variety of wildflowers. Make sure you read the canister as some will contain seeds that do better in full light and some are for shaded areas. Also, try and select varieties that are native to your area. ~Diane

Rose of Sharon grows well under pine trees. We have about seven Rose of Sharon bushes under our pine. We haven't even raked up the needles for a couple years. ~Karen

I have huge old pines limbed up to between 5-6ft. and grow rhodies, mahonia, choke cherry, hydrangea, hellebores. ferns, astilbe, huechera, lacecaps. repeating daylilies and hostas under them -- all without any problem. I spent a year building up the soil with huge amounts of compost, other organics plus lots of leaf mold and still topdress twice a year with compost, once a year with leafmold and always lots of organic mulch -- all this keeps the soil (on a slope no less LOL) damp, rich and deep. I measure the PH levels frequently and if it gets too acidic, I add lime. Hope this helps. Also, kiwi vine grows well in shade as does Boston ivy. I have both on a fence under ash and maples ...Hyacinth

One thing we do here in Kittery, Maine is to plant hostas under our evergreen trees. My husband loves that plant and it is everywhere on our property....he even planted it around the Christmas tree we have in the back yard, he planted it away from the trunk and in a big circle so when it opens it filled in very nicely and looks great...don't even have to mow under the tree anymore! ~Mary

My east yard has two huge hundred year old pine trees. I have planted azaleas and rhodendrens under and around the pine tree shade. These plants love acidic soil and are partial shade loving as well. They are thriving so it must be a good spot for them. ~Donna Kliegl, Iowa

I have planted these under my evergreen tree and they are all doing fine: Hostas, mums, feverfew and holly. Look for acid loving plants. ~Katie

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