Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

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
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
3 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


Achillea millefolium

Actaea pachypoda

Anemone canadensis

Lobelia siphilitica

Cornus alternifolia

Gaultheria procumbens

Rhododendron arborescens

Rhododendron calendulaceum

Adiantum pedatum

Matteuccia struthiopteris

Osmunda cinnamomea

Osmunda regalis

 

 

 

 

More Shrubs Questions

Shrubs not toxic to cattle in NJ
December 09, 2013 - I am working to rejuvenate the hedgerows on a farm in New Jersey by removing invasive plants and planting native shrubs. How do I find out which native shrubs are toxic to cattle and should not be pl...
view the full question and answer

Failure to thrive of Hamelia patens in Laredo
September 19, 2008 - I have a question regarding Hamelias patens(firebush)that I have been trying to grow for 2 years. I live in Laredo, Texas and this area should be an excellent climate for this plant. I planted 12 of t...
view the full question and answer

How to plant a gooseberry bush
November 22, 2008 - Please, if somebody can help, I need to know how to plant the gooseberry bush. Thanks,
view the full question and answer

Privacy Screening Plant for New York Narrow Site
April 20, 2013 - I need privacy screening on the side of my house in Mount Kisco, New York located 40 miles north of New York City. The area gets plenty of sun but is somewhat narrow. What evergreen bushes or trees ...
view the full question and answer

Plants for near a salt water swimming pool
April 01, 2009 - I need some suggestions of plants that will grow next to a public salt water swimming pool, located in Bossier City, Louisiana
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.