What can I plant under a pine tree?

coasterqueenJuly 10, 2006

I have a huge pine tree up in my front yard that deposits long needles underneath the tree all year long, or at least they are always there. The tree also produces cones. Anyways, years ago I put stones around the tree area where all the needles fall and proceeded to 'spruce' it up a bit planting some type of perennial that was supposed to spread. It never did. I wondered if it was because I didn't plant enough to get it 'going' or what. It had some type of blue flower on it, but I can't remember the name.

Is there ANYTHING I can plant under this pine to kind of hide the huge needle mess? If not I'll leave it. I have no desire to rid of the needles all the time, that's for sure.

TIA for your help. If you need a picture I can post when tonight. Thanks again.

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shawna_8(z5 IL)

I have two giant pine trees. I can give you some hints. First of all - - the reason your plants didn't spread is because there's not much rain and/or water that gets under a pine tree. The huge needle mess is actually good - - it acts as a mulch and will help the plants you DO plant hold moisture. SO - - my advice: limb "up" your pine tree. Cut the limbs on the bottom of the pine tree up as high as you can. It will allow some sunlight and rain in under the branches.

THEN, I'd plant shade plants that do not require a ton of water beneath the new limbed up tree. After the first year of transplanting a hosta, it does not need excessive water - - so a hosta is perfect. Water well the first year, then leave it alone thereafter and it should be fine. My advice is to forget the idea of getting special varieties of hosta. I'd go to Lowe's or Home Depot or WalMart (or a friends yard) and buy the largest pots of hosta you can get.

Like the other plants you planted, the hostas will be very slow to grow unless it gets more regular water. Combat this by getting the largest hostas you can find up front. That way you'll have a good "look" without waiting 4 years for the hostas to fill in. They'll probably not need to be divided in the future, so you can just pop them in and enjoy.

I do not have a picture right now, but my goal this year was to vary all my hostas. I have a dozen or so varieties throughout the garden - all mixed up and side by side. So you'll really see and understand the variation. Meaning, I've planted August Moon right next to Excelsior right next to Blue Angel right next to Sum and Substance right next to a dark green hosta, etc., etc., etc. The only thing I keep consistent: I put the taller varieties in the back. I've also got one pine tree surrounded by a "Fairy Ring". I put a ton of mixed hostas beneath the tree THEN added about 15 plants, a small miniature-yellow variety, that look exactly the same as an "edger" around the outside of the pine. It's gorgeous.

The idea is that all my beds look very colorful, even though they get vary little shade. Just remember, if you plant a tiny hosta (or any other shade plant) it will not grow much larger due to the lack of water and sunlight they receive beneath a pine tree.


Also - on a final note - - depending on how much pine "mess" you have - if you gather up all the pine needles, it makes a wonderful liner for a path. You could dig a path somewhere - remove all the grass and make it about 3' wide - then fill in the path with the pine needles. It stays the same color year round, rarely grows mold or disease (pine needles are resistent) and is easy on the knees to walk on.

Let me know how it turns out if you're interested in my ideas!

Thanks, Shawna

    Bookmark   July 11, 2006 at 3:03PM
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lori_elf z6b MD

Limbing the tree up and thinning branches is a good idea. Very few plants can grow in dry, deep shade. I have some of the following growing in a mulch of the needles next to a pine tree that has been limbed up: hellebores (lenten roses), vinca minor (periwinkle, ground cover with blue flowers, is this what you tried before), digitalis purpurea (foxglove), ferns of various sorts (lady ferns, christmas ferns), Great Solomon's Seal, and aster divaricata (white wood aster).

    Bookmark   July 20, 2006 at 1:36PM
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DISSmith(z8b SC)

How about Azaleas or Rhododendrons. I believe there are a couple of varieties hardy to zone 4. I have a yard full of Pines and Azaleas flourish underneath. They seem to love acid soil. There are some re-blooming varieties both large and small. Just a thought..

    Bookmark   July 30, 2006 at 12:04PM
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