Plants That Do Well Under Maple Tree

jmcdmdMarch 28, 2012

I've given up on hosta under the maple tree [received much advice against it via the gw forum].

Are there any perennials that might work other than hosta....if not, I'm open to "annual" suggestions....but a nice perennial would be preferable.

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

which maple???

species columbine seems to work for mom and dad .. its a self sowing biennial.. and maybe it just dies.. before the maple can kill it ... lol ...

the problem with maple.. is that as soon as you dig a hole .. you sever the roots .. and the trees reaction is to regenerate feeder roots.. wait for it.. IN THE HOLE YOU DUG ... so long term.. it will strangle everything that is planted there..

hence the suggestion that your get plants that re-seed themselves .. w/o the digging..

rose champion also comes to mind ...

the other tricks are.. never throw fert in a hole ...or the tree will go get it.. broadcast if you must ...

and NEVER water only the hole ... broadcast all water.. over the hole bed ...

make any sense???


ps: and if its a norway ... just put mulch down .. and put in a bench or hammock .. and give up your dreams of growing things under it ...

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 9:43AM
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terrene(5b MA)

It's difficult to grow things under maple trees, but it does depend on the species of maple. The canopy of Norway (Acer platanoides) is very dense, and their roots are aggressive and allelopathic and will inhibit the growth of all but the most vigorous plants. Silver maples (Acer saccharinum) have extremely thirsty aggressive roots that will invade ANYTHING wet in its root zone, especially the plantings you are babying and watering. Sugar maples (Acer saccharum) have better behaved roots, BUT they are very sensitive to root disturbance and damaging their roots is not recommended. I dunno about other species of maples.

Vinca minor and orange ditch lilies are holding their own under my big Silver and Norway (this last Norway I SO want gone, but I've already removed 4 big ones and spent a pretty penny on tree work).

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 10:00AM
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It's taken me over 15 years to solve the dilemma, but my successful
underplantings beneath two silver maples are: Nandina domestica,
a few of the smaller hemerocallis, berberis, epimedium, vinca minor,
gallium, stylophorum, aegopodium , and, surprisingly, a hydrangea
quercifolia 'Pee Wee' and an abelia 'Edward Goucher'. Ken's advice
about NOT fertilizing is dead accurate. . .ditto about general watering,
rather than the specific plant you've added.


    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 10:14AM
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I've tried all sorts of plants underneath my maple over the years. The sweet woodruff did well for a few years, then petered out. What I'm left with now is an aegopodium and...moss. The moss just started growing all by itself, and it looks nice and green and soft, so I've encouraged it.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 11:17AM
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Sorry, I didn't mean aegopodium in my previous post--what I have is epimedium, or bishop's hat.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 11:22AM
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I had no idea maples were so problematic!

I'm about to undertake a planting under a red Japanese maple I inherited from my house's previous owners - are there similar problems with this variety? It's a small tree, about 8-9 feet tall.

It's on the shady side of the house and I was planning on a combination of Christmas ferns, celandine poppy and columbine underneath.

Will that work or should I re-evaluate?

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 1:13PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I have Maples all around my property. Both the Silver Maples and a variety I haven't identified, that has a more rounded top. Also one of those burgundy leaved varieties. They are all difficult to grow very much under the drip line. Shrubs in particular have a hard time too near the trunk. The one shrub that seems undeterred under the dripline has been a Cornus racemosa.

A few perennials seem to do fairly well. Epimediums, European Ginger, Solomon's Seal. I have been surprised to see Agastache Honey Bee Blue, and Honesty reseed very well under the tree. Vinca, violas and crocus have no problems.

I am still trying a few other things, but the jury is still out on those.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 1:57PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

You could put in small spring bulbs which will flower before the canopy closes over.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 2:24PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i had a bloodgood JM .. that had a fibrous surface mat of roots.. that barely allowed me to put a shovel into it ..

it was 8 to 12 feet tall ..


    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 3:46PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

hey.. johnny jump ups grow ANYWHERE ..


Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 5:14PM
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As an experiment this spring I am going to try a couple of corydalis lutea right under our 15 foot maple.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 7:34PM
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I have ajuga, violets, gloriosa daisies (rudbeckia hirta), French strawberries, coral bells, spiderwort, and a half dozen smallish hostas under my big old Crimson King maple. Also within root reach are five big nandina domestica, a 20 yr old forsythia, two crape myrtles and a pair of old mahonias. To be fair, the hostas are close to the trunk, between the support roots, where there aren't many feeder roots for competition so they do fine.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 11:47PM
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My in-law has a 30+ year old silver maple. What appears to be growing underneath:

Vinca Minor
Lilies of the Valley
Siberian Squill

Further away from the tree but still within the canopy

Hyacinth bulbs (recently planted, so who knows if it will work).
Osterich Fern (from last year).
Columbine (from last year).


    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 7:23AM
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MollyDog(6 PA)

I've had a similar problem that I solved by having my husband make a large (3'x6') planter. You could make a nice retreat by mulching out the area, add planters, even for your hostas, some chairs, stepping stones. Rather than fighting with the area, make lemonade from lemons.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 12:50PM
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