Explore Plants

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 

Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
2 ratings

Tuesday - July 15, 2008

From: Jordan, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Planting shrubs and flowers under pine trees in New York
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We just started to plant flowers and the whole back side of our yard is pine trees. I was wondering what types of flowers can be planted under them, and what kind of plants or shrubs can be planted under there. But we want to plant flowers more, if we can. Hope you can help.

ANSWER:

There are two issues involved in planting under pine trees. The first, obviously, is the fairly dense shade that pine trees create, causing many sun-loving plants to languish and die. The other issue is that the constant drop of pine needles creates an acidic soil. Certain plants thrive in acidic soil, but many do not properly develop or just die. Some plant experts recommend planting nothing at all under a pine tree, and leaving the needles there to continue to provide nutrition to the soil beneath the tree. Pine needles make a nice mulch and will slowly decompose to add to the soil texture. You can expect that in a yard with several pine trees, the effects of the needles dropping has spread to soil not just below the tree itself, so regardless of where you plant, you need to be aware of the soil Ph level.

We are going to go to Recommended Species, click on New York on the map, and look for some plants that are native to your area, and then check for their shade tolerance and the type of soil, alkaline or acidic, they demand. We'll choose some shrubs, flowering perennials, and perhaps some ferns, just a sampling. You can go back and do the same thing, looking for other plants more to your liking. When you follow a plant link to its webpage, you will need to look down the page at what types of soils the plant needs and what kind of sun exposure. If you are not going to plant inside the dripline of your pines, you will probably be able to grow plants that need part shade, which we consider to be 2 to 6 hours of sun a day. These plants are all commercially available, and by going to Suppliers, and typing in your city and state in the Enter Search Location box, you will get a list of nurseries, seed companies and landscaping professionals in your general area who specialize in native plants.

HERBACEOUS PERENNIALS

Achillea millefolium (common yarrow) - 3' tall, blooms April to September

Actaea pachypoda (white baneberry) - 1-3' tall, poisonous fruit

Anemone canadensis (Canadian anemone) - 1-2' tall

Lobelia siphilitica (great blue lobelia) - 2-3' tall

SHRUBS

Cornus alternifolia (alternateleaf dogwood) - 20-35' tall, deciduous

Gaultheria procumbens (eastern teaberry) - 1-3' tall, evergreen

Rhododendron arborescens (smooth azalea) - 8-12' tall, deciduous

Rhododendron calendulaceum (flame azalea) - 6-12' tall, deciduous

FERNS

Adiantum pedatum (northern maidenhair) - 1 to 3' tall

Matteuccia struthiopteris (ostrich fern) - 2 to 8' tall

Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern) - 3 to 6' tall

Osmunda regalis (royal fern) - 2 to 5' tall

 

 

 

 

More Shrubs Questions

Small area native plant gardening for an apartment
November 14, 2008 - Mr.Smarty, We live in an apartment and are fortunate to have a small area, 5'x5', and so want color! Here in Houston the winters don't freeze much and the summers are HOT. Luckily, we are in the ...
view the full question and answer

Living fence of native plants for Ojai, CA
September 20, 2008 - I would like to build a "green fence" about 10-15 feet tall. I live in Ojai, CA where we have VERY hot summers and it goes below freezing every winter. The soil does not seem to drain well..it is e...
view the full question and answer

Non-native red-tip photinias dying in San Antonio
August 20, 2009 - A 17 year old Red tip Photinia in a hedge shows signs of dying. The main stalks are quite large and offshoots from two of the stalks have brittle, drooping leaves. The center of the plant looks norm...
view the full question and answer

Purple sage with black residue on leaves in Georgetown TX
October 02, 2009 - I have 2 very healthy tx. purple sage that have developed a black residue on some leaves, and is a "sticky" substance..any ideas what this is and how to treat???
view the full question and answer

Can Monterrey Oak be topped into a bush from Austin TX
June 16, 2013 - I received a suggestion to use Monterey oak as privacy hedge by topping the small tree and letting it bush. I can't find any pictures or info on this being done though.
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.