Last Updated on October 31, 2021 by Phil
Trees are common parts of any home landscaping. You’ll often find them in front or backyards. But, unless they’re ornamental in nature, they tend to look a bit bland. That’s why it’s always a good idea to pair them with the best plants to grow under trees.
That said, you can’t just grow any plants under trees. That’s because of a few things.
- Trees case large shadows. As such, sun is not a luxury underneath its branches.
- Trees have large roots. This means the plant needs to be able to compete with the tree otherwise it will die sooner than later.
- The plants need to complete the tree in terms of visual appeal. Otherwise, why bother.
As such, it is important not only to choose plants that look good but also have the ability to survive and thrive in that environment.
Tips for Growing Plants Under Trees
Protect the Tree
This may sound silly. But yes, you do need to protect the tree as well.
While trees look strong and rugged on the exterior, many are sensitive or even delicate to certain things. As such, you can easily affect its growth or health.
Some trees have shallow roots. As such, having plants grow around them can disturb these roots.
Of course, you do need to dig to plant the shrubs or flowers as well. In the process you can hurt the trees roots doing so.
Allow Your New Plants to Compete with the Tree
Because your tree bigger with deeper, more established roots, it will likely win out on resources. As such, watering more if needed and feeding more helps.
But, avoid fertilizing the plant during the first 12 months after planting. You want to plant to establish its roots and not focus its energy on growing leaves or flowers which is what plant food does.
Similarly, adding compost every spring provides the proper nutrients to help them grow optimally. Often time, as the soil’s organic matter improves, so do our plants.
Best Plants to Grow Under Trees
Lilies are well-known for their beauty because they feature stunning flowers. Although some have much smaller flowers.
It is worth noting that there are a few hundred lily species around. And, two of most popular “lilies”, which are the daylily and canna lily, are not actually lilies since they don’t belong to the Lilium genus.
That said, my favorite ones are those that have very visible blooms that stand out from the foliage. These are perfect for growing under trees because they won’t get overshadowed by the tree.
One of the best plants to grow under trees are hostas. These are amazing foliage plants with beautiful leaves. They also grow in an overlapping fashion which give the entire plant lovely to look at.
If that’s not enough this clump-forming favorite is very easy to care for and thrives in shade.
Green is the most popular color. And, it is the most common one you’ll see as well. But, hostas are available in pink and lavender as well.
Primrose are hardy to USDA zones 2 through 8. Thus, if you’re looking for a lovely flowering perennial to accompany your tree that can tolerate the cold winters, consider this one.
Primrose feature lovely flowers. The plant itself grows to about a foot and a half tall making it quite short. But, it can cover the base of your tree to make it look amazing.
Daffodils rank among the best plants to grow under trees because they instantly light up the bland or shaded areas.
Note that there are more than 50 species of daffodils around and over 25,000 hybrids and cultivars.
Thus, there are tons to choose from.
The most popular daffodils are colored yellow. But, you’ll see red, white and orange colors as well.
They are perfect for filling the space under the trees because they can tolerate partial shade.
Their short statue (12 to 18 inches) makes them perfect complements to trees as well.
And, you won’t have a climate problem with them since their do well in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 9, which means they’ll survive most cold and warm areas in the country.
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Hydrangeas are a very popular garden shrub because they can get thick and dense. More importantly, they feature amazingly large showy flowers that feature lovely colors.
As such, they instantly brighten up any area outside your home.
Hydrangeas enjoy full sun. But, they likewise do well in partial sun or shade. They can also get to 15 feet high. So, pruning and trimming will be needed later on.
Angel Wing Begonia
Image from Pinterest
The angel wing begonia along with its close relative the dragon wing begonia are quite similar in nature in that they’re cane-type begonias that have large patterned leaves and drooping flowers.
While often grown in pots, you can plant them in the ground as well.
The biggest differences are that in the garden, your angel wing begonia will get bigger. And, its leaves will overlap as it gets bushy. This gives you a very unique look especially under a tree.
Image from Pinterest
How you feel about wild violets can vary depending on your experiences with it.
Some people enjoy them as wildflowers. But, others see them as a weed.
They do have the tendency to spread given the right conditions. As such, it is important to know this ahead of time before growing them in your front or backyard. Or else, you may regret it later if they keep invading the rest of the spaces.
That said, they are lovely low growing perennials.
Should you prefer something unique, the bleeding heart is something worth considering. These are best known for their puffy heart shaped flowers that line their stems. You’ll often see around 20 of these per stem which make them look like pendants and lockets hanging from a chain or necklace.
These vary in size but are fairly low in stature growing as tall as 3 feet on the high side.
Since they enjoy shaded areas, they’re among the best plants to grow under trees.
Impatiens are low tender perennials which grow to between half a foot to 3 feet high. Often, they’re on the short side, which makes them perfect for decorating around the tree.
Their flowers feature pastel colors like coral, purple, pink, yellow and violet just to name a few.
Additionally, they thrive in partial and full shade which makes them perfect for covering the base of trees.
As such, many front yards often adorn their trees with a round-shaped bed of impatiens.
Camellia are flowering shrubs that will grow to between 2 to 12 feet high. This makes them great for covering the lower part of the tree which can often look bare if there are no plants around it.
Best of all, they are amazing to look at because of their lovely colorful blooms which come in a wide variety of colors including ping, red, yellow and white.
Periwinkle is also known as creeping myrtle. These grow both foliage and flowers although their blooms are small and won’t stand out when grown under trees.
Instead, they’re great as a low maintenance complementary plant to the tree.
Creeping myrtle are tough and resilient. They require little care and don’t have pest issues. This means you can pretty much neglect them and they’ll be find.
Image from Pinterest
Wild ginger are uniquely heart-shaped plants that bear flowers. But, the flowers are hidden under the leaves so when grown In the garden, they’re almost never seen.
That said, these make for lovely ground cover around your trees. They get up to 6 inches high and do well in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 7.
Mountain laurel are evergreen shrubs that enjoy part shade. They can tolerate sunlight as well.
But, the former is what makes them easy to grow under trees.
These are late spring bloomers. And, they feature red, white and pink colors.
Peonies are well known for their stunningly beautiful flowers. They bloom around springtime with makes them perfect as everyone starts to come out of their homes from the winter.
You can pick from yellow, purple, pink, white or red colors.
The likewise thrive in part shade as well as full sun.
As the shrub grows, they become more prominent as you see their colored blooms more and more. Plus, they can grow up to 5 feet tall which covers the lower part of the tree.