En EspaŅol

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
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. 


Phyla nodiflora

Phyla nodiflora

Dichondra argentea

Dichondra argentea

 

 

 

More Trees Questions

Is sulfurous well water affecting leaves on trees in Belton TX
November 07, 2011 - We installed an irrigation system for our buffalo grass lawn last spring. The grass is fine but the leaves on the trees are burned where the water hits them. I suspect that the well we are using fo...
view the full question and answer

Plants beneath native bald cypress trees in Thibodaux LA
September 14, 2009 - I have a bed that needs to be revamped and it has two beautiful 18 year old Bald cypress trees. I would like to work the soil and plant some appropriate shade tolerant plants. How do I work the soil...
view the full question and answer

Patio materials under a native oak trees in Missouri
March 02, 2009 - Is it safe to build a pavestone patio (with gravel sub base, Geo tech 101 fabric and sand bed..around two 50+ year old native oak trees? I know concrete would compact and cause damage to the surface ...
view the full question and answer

When does Ziziphus obtusifolia leaf and flower in Austin?
March 22, 2010 - Hello Mr. S.P., Do you know when the Texas buckthorn, Ziziphus obtusifolia (I believe), flowers (and leafs out) in Austin? Is there one at the Wildflower Center?
view the full question and answer

Grey Goo Coming from red Oak in Manchaca TX
May 13, 2013 - I have a large Red Oak in my yard that appears to be weeping some sort of grey goo from parts of the trunk. What is this goo and do I need to treat it and if so how? I'm happy to come by the Wildflow...
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center