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

Saturday - November 03, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Trees
Title: Ground cover under trees from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I need ground cover plants that can tolerate leaf litter and grow under oak tree shade.

ANSWER:

Not a whole lot of those around. Please read this previous Mr. Smarty question on allelopathy in oaks. Even those oak leaves on the ground have bad effects on other plants trying to grow there. Instead, we are fond of recommending a good quality compost or shredded bark mulch under that tree. It will combine with the oak leaves and gradually decompose to help amend the soil beneath in terms of drainage and access to the nutrients in the soil. It will have to be replaced from time to time, but that is still less expensive and work intensive than constantly replacing plants that will not survive. Also, the mulch, up to 4 inches thick, will provide a non-muddy path and protect the tree roots from heat and cold as well as retain our all-too-scarce moisture in the soil.

 

More Compost and Mulch Questions

Identification of shrub looking like honeysuckle in Odessa TX
October 02, 2011 - Bought a shrub in Pecos, TX yesterday. It looks like honeysuckle but the brightest flat orange I have ever seen. Flower and greenery looked like honeysuckle but when I looked on the Internet under or...
view the full question and answer

Native plants beneficial to wildlife in Cincinnati, OH
April 25, 2008 - I live in Cincinnati, Ohio and I am looking for native plants to plant in a small area of trees behind my house. I would like the plants to be beneficial for wildlife, like maybe some wildflowers. T...
view the full question and answer

Non-blooming climbing rose in Conroe, TX
October 09, 2009 - I have a climbing rose and it has never bloomed and has no thorns, it was a cutting from another rose bush. I have given it water and fertilize and have mulch around it also.
view the full question and answer

Advisability of landscape cloth in native gardens
July 18, 2007 - Is the use of landscape cloth healthy or unhealthy in native gardens?
view the full question and answer

Decline of Japanese ferns in Austin
June 16, 2008 - I've enjoyed beautiful Japanese ferns in my shaded garden for about ten years. They are looking spent and straggly, despite fish emulsion, compost,and lots of mulch and soaker hose watering in the s...
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.