For many gardeners the ground under a tree is regarded as a problem spot where little will grow let alone thrive. These areas suffer from the dual problems of lack of sunlight and competition from the roots of the tree itself. Luckily there are some plants that will grow in these conditions as Jamie McIntosh explains in his article which I found on The Spruce website.
For the garden-loving homeowner, mature trees cause a conundrum: no one wants to remove a stately shade tree that took decades to mature, but trees are sun and moisture hogs that won’t share their turf with just any plant. Gardeners sometimes compensate with a fresh planting of annuals each year, but this constant root disturbance isn’t good for the tree either. Fortunately, there are a number of perennials that you can use to create an attractive and harmonious landscape under a tree.
- 01 of 09
The heart-shaped leaves with contrasting white veining catch the eye of many gardeners with shady lots, but the cloud of sky blue flowers that Brunnera macrophylla produce in the spring is the icing on the cake. Besides being perennial stalwarts that bloom reliably in zone 3 regions, the Siberian bugloss will slowly form a colony of plants that you can use to populate the landscape under the tree, or transplant to other parts of the yard.
- 02 of 09
As a native plant, the wild ginger is a ground cover that thrives with little care. Spring flowers are inconspicuous, but the heart-shaped foliage is attractive in its own right. Rural gardeners will appreciate the deer-resistance of Asarum canadense. Wild ginger is best grown without neighboring plants, as it tends to outcompete others in the landscape. A bonus to wildlife gardeners is the pipevine swallowtail butterfly that will seek out wild ginger plants to lay its eggs upon.
- 03 of 09
Lily of the valley is a tough little plant with a sweet spring fragrance. The tiny bell-shaped flowers look like they belong in a fairy’s landscape, but Convallaria majalis is a formidable ground cover that can quickly fill in any blank spot in the garden, including the thin, hard soil under established trees. For something different, look for the rosea form, which produces pale pink flowers.
See more at The Spruce
Feature photo: Kevin Gessner/Flickr/CC BY 2.0