Planting under Magnolia Trees???

theartist(z8 La)April 22, 2009

Hi all,

I have 2 mature magnolia trees that have 8X8 brick beds under them. What can I plant under them for color, or maybe a nice groundcover that will do OK. I know magnolias DRINK alot. Any help with this is greatly apreciated.

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iforgotitsonevermind(♪☺♫)

Do your trees a favor and don't plant in the root zone or disturb the roots, including but not limited to piling soil over the roots, against the trunk or building brick borders around the trees then filling them with soil. I know this is not the answer you wanted to hear but this could cause the slow and eventual death of the tree and mature trees cost thousands to remove.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 9:58AM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

Yes. Leave the root zone alone. Not to mention that magnolias are messy.

Dan

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 10:37AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Planting small plants (digging small holes) shouldn't significantly affect the tree's roots. Adding a light layer of mulch (2"-4") will actually benefit the tree. Even adding compost in the planting holes you make won't hurt the tree. As Iforgotitsonevermind mentioned, don't pile soil (or mulch) up against the trunk.

I'd google plants for dry shade for more recommendations than you'll ever need.

Here is a link that might be useful: Plants for Dry Shade

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 10:45AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Are the magnolias deciduous or evergreen? The garden character of these two groups are like day and night. Saucer, star, lily and the many deciduous hybrid magnolias lend themselves to multiple spring color effects like underplanting with sheets of blue-flowered spring bulbs such as bluebells, grape hyacinths and squills. Evergreen magnolias, especially the heavy, shady and messy bull bay (the name says it all) don't have the same flexibility. In fact, in The Complete Shade Gardener G. Schenk says southern magnolia doesn't really belong in home gardens at all, with its deep shade and continuous production of litter all summer.

The 'Little Gem' cultivar, with its small parts is less overbearing than most other forms sold - but is less hardy and prone to break under wet snow.

The fleshy roots of none will appreciate much digging among them. Very small plants like dormant spring bulbs could be carefully inserted among the roots of a long-established deciduous magnolia. I wouldn't attempt to carve out full-sized planting holes unless I found spaces that were without magnolia roots, for some reason.

Definitely don't tear up sections of small roots or cut, scrape or gouge larger ones.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 3:01PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

"In fact, in The Complete Shade Gardener, G. Schenk says southern magnolia doesn't really belong in home gardens at all..."

Remind me not to waste any money on Schenk's book. There's something wrong with that dude!

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 4:12PM
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big_deck(5)

IMHO and from experience.

Lily of the Valley do very well under a Magnolia. Been there, done that. Only suggestion I have is to put some kind of sunken border around the area where you want to confine the plant growth. Roots are very shallow, but they do reproduce like rabbits!

Plant pips 1" (2 -3 cm) below soil surface. Roots are shallow.

If you want color variety, there are two very nice versions. White and pink (Lily of the Valley Rosea).

Here is a link that might be useful: Lily of the Valley

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 4:57PM
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theartist(z8 La)

Yes, I have to disagree with Mr. Schenk .....mine are the BIG Southern Magnolias they are stunners and BELONG in my garden!!!!
Big Deck...would the Lily of the Valley work under these BIG trees??? I love that plant!!

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 5:17PM
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jqpublic(7b/8a Wake County NC)

Southern Magnolias look best with branching all the way to the ground. You may just want to move the 8x8 bricks and used them to make a separate flower bed somewhere else. They spread a lot and they are very messy in the spring. Mine has a lot of surface roots and its very hard to even grow grass around it. Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 9:59PM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

would the Lily of the Valley work under these BIG trees?

To repeat oft-repeated above, as long as you don't disturb the roots.

Dan

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 10:01PM
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