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
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - April 08, 2014

From: Pocatello, ID
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Plant Lists, Planting, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Planting under Pine Trees in Pocatello ID
Answered by: Larry Larson

QUESTION:

Hi I was wondering if you could give me some ideas of what I could plant under and near some pine trees for my area. The trees are huge and so it is also constant shade where I want to plant. Thanks for your time.

ANSWER:

 This Mr Smarty Plants is pleased to see a question from his old home country!   I have fond memories of the deep pine forests.  Thinking of that, though, reminds me that this is a tough question!  The natural areas near my home had a layer of pine needles, maybe some grasses and very light underbrush.  Let see what the Wildflower Center resources suggests for this situation.

Here are a couple previous answers that deal with the issue of trying to grow under pine trees:

Flower color under large pine tree from South Elgin IL      Brings up possible issues of alleopathy, this is a natural effect where the tree and the debris from the tree tends to suppress other plants.  A review of information on your pines [see the technique in the message] will let you know if this exists with your pine stand.

Flowers under pine trees from Elkhart Indiana 
So, we will use the same method detailed in the previous answers to find flowers that will grow in part shade, tolerate acidic soils and are native not only to North America but also to the area where they are to be grown

  The plants recommended for Idaho are published by the Wildflower Center as the Idaho Recommended Species.   I then sorted the list for herbs and shrubs which prefer shade and acidic soils.  This gives the following list of suggested species [I’ve noted whether they need moist or dry soil].  You may want to read about each plant with your location in mind; I would trust that some of these should work for you.

Actaea rubra (Red baneberry)    Habitat:  Rich, moist, deciduous & coniferous woods & thickets
Aquilegia coerulea (Colorado blue columbine)
Campanula rotundifolia (Bluebell bellflower) - dry
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Kinnikinnick)
Rudbeckia hirta (Black-eyed susan) – dry or moist
Rudbeckia laciniata (Cutleaf coneflower) – moist acid soil
Vaccinium uliginosum (Alpine blueberry) - wet
Lonicera involucrata (Twinberry honeysuckle) – moist to wet
Amelanchier alnifolia (Saskatoon serviceberry)
Rubus parviflorus (Thimbleberry) – dry or wet

 

From the Image Gallery


Red baneberry
Actaea rubra

Colorado blue columbine
Aquilegia coerulea

Bluebell bellflower
Campanula rotundifolia

Kinnikinnick
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Black-eyed susan
Rudbeckia hirta

Green-headed coneflower
Rudbeckia laciniata

Twinberry honeysuckle
Lonicera involucrata

Saskatoon serviceberry
Amelanchier alnifolia

Western thimbleberry
Rubus parviflorus

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Groundcover for Maryland Slope in Deer Country
July 03, 2016 - I have a 20-30% grade hill in Maryland. I am looking for a groundcover plant (for example ivy) that I can plant on the hill. I have the following issues: clay soil, deer, full sun, limited water sourc...
view the full question and answer

Need plants for a garden pathway in Austin, TX.
February 28, 2015 - Hello! I am looking for a low-growing native plant or plants that I can use instead of grass; I have a section of the garden that gets full to part sun that will have a pathway of stones. I'd like ...
view the full question and answer

Moving plants for extreme drought from Greencastle IN
August 23, 2012 - In exceptional drought here in Indiana, I am looking at weeds that may become my next perennials! How do I move what my dad called ragged robins from the edges of roads. They are blue and could be wil...
view the full question and answer

Raised beds over lateral lines in Solgohachia AR
January 02, 2010 - I would like to build raised flower beds over my lateral lines. They would be planted with strawberries and perennials. Will this cause any problems with the absorption into the ground or not lettin...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for shade from Atlanta GA
May 28, 2012 - I am looking for recommendations for a ground cover. I live in the Atlanta, Georgia area and have a large shady slope on which I would like to use low maintenance/water native ground cover. What wou...
view the full question and answer

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