Another problem, planting stuff underneath a birch tree

paulsiu(5a)September 12, 2011

In my front yard is a birch tree. I am not sure what type it is, but it's the type with peeling bark. It appears to be popular, since all of the neighbors seems to also have one.

Any case, I planted several different perennials in the area underneath. So far, most of them have not done well. I planted some blackeye susan there last year. It did not return. The coreposis seems to do well, but came back sickly this year. The only plant that seemed to do well are day lilies and some form of sedium.

Is it tough to grow plants underneath this type of birch?


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mytime(3/4 Alaska)

Birch have a shallow but extensive root system. It's amazing to see how the lawn in the "shadow" of the birches in our yard dries out in the summer. We truly can't water it enough. The only things we are truly successful with growing there are native plants that you would normally find associated with them. In our area, we can have a wonderful underplanting of devil's club (yes, it's a beautiful ornamental if it's out of the way and you don't need to worry about being attacked by it), wild current, highbush cranberry, wild roses, and fireweed. We have mature birch...I have gotten other plants established under young birch, but I'm not certain if they'll still be there in the longterm.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 1:12AM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

Ditto about trying to plant underneath a birch. Very difficult. Try Epimediums--the toughest ones.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 6:05AM
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franeli(z4 NH)

I finally got lucky planting big root geraniums under 3 river birches. I give the geraniums compost and mulch every spring.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 7:19AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

planting under large established trees is all about providing the new plant with water in excess of what the tree will steal ...

and it usually can not be done with automated lawn irrigation ...


    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 7:24AM
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If it's so water hogging, how are day lillies and sedium thriving there? The sedium even increase by one after some animal ate some of it and one of the piece started a new plant. I suppose it's because both are consider the toughest plants and one of the most drought tolerant plant.


    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 11:04AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

I have a weeping birch in my flowerbed and it took a while to get the bed thickly planted beneath it. Bear in mind I live in a wet climate and even here it is dry under a birch. Plants growing happily: Asplenium scolopendrium, Polystichum setiferum, Anemone japonica, Cyclamen neapolitanum, Geranium macrorrhizum 'Album', Meconopsis cambrica, Dicentra spectabilis, Hellebores, Pulmonarias and spring bulbs.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 12:38PM
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paul_(z5 MI)

Paul both sedums and "ditch lilies" are known for being tough drought resistant plants. So, yes, you answered your own Q.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2011 at 1:20PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

If it's so water hogging, how are day lillies and sedium thriving there?

====>>> ESTABLISHED plants can compete with the tree.. and successfully deal with drought ...

your issue is how to get a recent planting.. or transplant to get ESTABLISHED .... which will take some time ...

also.. from experience .. its the feeder roots.. the thin ones.. that use the water.. and if you dig a hole thereby slicing all the roots .. and put a plant with improved soil in a hole .. and hand water only that hole.. i will give you one guess where the tree will grow new feeder roots ... and NEVER fertilize that hole ...

so.. if you can get it in there.. and get it ESTABLISHED ... many of the hardier plants will compete with the tree ..

this is why if you grow a plant to a large clump.. and then move it under a tree.. it has a better chance of succeeding.. rather than trying to get a bunch of babes to grow in there ...


    Bookmark   September 22, 2011 at 4:25PM
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Agree with Ken on the "clump" transplant. . .learned after many failures
that smaller, immature plants will really struggle. Under my two birches,
established epimedium and ferns have thrived; when first planted as a whip,
one birch was underplanted with Vinca minor and has developed into a lush
carpet, accented by a golden Hosta "Sun Power". . a .young hosta didn't make
it, but a 2-gallon "SP" is thriving. Several Nandina domestica and a
Stephandra are successfully nestled under the other birch.


    Bookmark   September 22, 2011 at 5:43PM
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