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
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - July 15, 2009

From: Fort Worth, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Plants for under pine in Ft. Worth
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My front yard, in Fort Worth, faces north. There is a large shade-giving pine tree in the middle. I am looking at options for what spreading groundcover varieties to plant underneath this rather large pine tree. I suppose my question is multi-faceted. First, will the acidity of the pine-needle covered ground be harmful to some species. Second, I am also looking to minimize mowing and watering requirments for the upkeep. I was looking into dwarf mondo grass and frog fruit, but perhaps there are others more suitable? Thank you for your assistance!

ANSWER:

There are several pines native to Texas, but most of them seem to occur either in far East Texas or far West Texas. What you have may be none of the natives or a hybrid; it doesn't matter too much as members of the pinus genus share several characteristics that may be affecting what will grow around the tree.

We were unclear if you were trying to plant around the tree or beneath the tree. We're assuming that if the tree is doing well, that would probably mean that you have acidic soil, which pines all need. They even contribute to the acidity of the soil with their fallen needles. As the needles decompose, they add still more acidity to the soil. If you are trying to grow plants around the tree, they would just need to be adaptable to the acidic soil and part shade. If you are trying to grow plants beneath the tree, they are having to deal with the heavy shade of the pine, plus the needles on the ground.  We would recommend that you let the pine needles stay beneath the pine, they make a good mulch, should inhibit any weeds from coming up, and will continue to contribute to the health of the tree, itself.

If you really want to plant something beneath the tree, you will have to consider those pine needles and their acidity. As we said, the needles will suppress weeds, but they probably also will suppress anything else you try to put in there. We would not recommend Ophiopogon japonicus, dwarf mondo grass, as it is a non-native to North America from China, Korea and the Philippines. Phyla nodiflora (turkey tangle fogfruit), which you mentioned, and Dichondra argentea (silver ponysfoot) are both possibilities for a sun or part shade ground cover. 

 

 

 

More Trees Questions

Looking for fruit and nut trees to plant in San Augustine, TX
April 05, 2011 - I am setting up residence in San Augustine, Texas on approximately 9 acres of land. We wanted to plant a few of each type of fruit and nut trees that would prosper in the area (for wildlife and for o...
view the full question and answer

Planting under Walnut Trees in Harrisville, MI.
July 22, 2009 - I have 2 50+ yr old Black Walnut trees in Northern Michigan (zone 4). I am planting a new bed (raised of course) and was considering adding a hydrangea. I am curious if this will thrive due to the jug...
view the full question and answer

Need suggestions for plants for a bird/small wildlife refuge in Wichita Co, TX.
August 26, 2011 - With our continuing drought in North Texas, I'm planning to transform my small backyard into a bird/small wildlife "refuge". What types of native plants and grasses can I plant in dry, hot Wichita ...
view the full question and answer

Planning garden tasks in advance from Austin
January 03, 2012 - My yard was a disaster last year-grass and trees browning, early leaf fall on flowering plants, and water bills sky high, even with the limited watering days. What can I do this year to prevent this s...
view the full question and answer

Non-native, and/or invasive bermudagrass, St. Augustine and Pistache from Houston
September 24, 2012 - Our St. Augustine lawn died suddenly this summer from either chinch bugs or grub worms (or both?), and a multitude of weeds and native Bermuda have taken over the area. Now that the weather has cooled...
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.