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#270549 - 03/24/2009 at 05:12 PM Plants that grow beneath and around pine trees
Miss_Connie Offline
Member

Registered: 08/05/2008 at 08:55 PM
Posts: 33
Loc: Iowa USA
Hi there!
I am trying to figure out what plants, if any, will grow beneath and around our 3 rows of pine trees. I'm trying to find an alternative to the goats and sheep that my husband keeps telling me we're going to turn loose on that part of our yard to keep the mowing costs down (it's about 500 feet long by 40 feet wide there). I really don't want goats and sheep grazing in my yard

Is there a creeping plant that will grow in a place like that? Maybe creeping sedum or something along those lines that we wouldn't have to mow. Even small bushes would be excellent as they would help as a wind break. These pines don't have branches that come all the way to the ground like our spruce trees, and the lower branches get trimmed off as they lose their needles, so there is height beneath them. Between the rows is very shady when the sun isn't directly overhead.

I've heard that nothing will grow under pine trees because the soil is too acidic but the grass grows tall and thick right up to the trees, so I'm hoping this isn't true. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Connie

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#270598 - 03/25/2009 at 12:16 AM Re: Plants that grow beneath and around pine trees [Re: Miss_Connie]
Jiffymouse
Unregistered


connie, if you were in the south, i'd say carolina jessamine, confederate jasmine, azaleas, and dogwoods. no mowing, there are low growing azaleas, the dogwoods are lacy and not "view blocking" and the jessamine and jasmine are vines.

now, having said all that, i'd look for a low growing rhododendron. they are azalea relatives (actually, azaleas are rhody relatives) and should be fine in the acid soil. just my thought. i do know rhodys are more cold hardy that azaleas.

welcome!

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#270600 - 03/25/2009 at 12:31 AM Re: Plants that grow beneath and around pine trees [Re: ]
angelblossom Offline
A Gnome's Best Friend
30k Posts

Registered: 10/02/2005 at 08:00 PM
Posts: 30001
Loc: Arlington,Texas
Hello Miss Connie ,,, Welcome to the garden helper,,

Hosta, coral bells,, and Brunnera's Brunnera's are heart shaped and variegated the produce blue/purple blooms,, Jack Frost Brunnera is gorgeous and would be a nice contrast against the coral bells darker leaves,,

All of the above> don't plant up against the base of the tree,, they need room to spread,, sounds like you have a large area to cover,, and it will take a few years to spread to that space,, so maybe some sedum would be fine as an in between,, a lot of sedum loves full sun so make sure the kind you get will grow well in shade too!,,
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#270614 - 03/25/2009 at 01:32 AM Re: Plants that grow beneath and around pine trees [Re: angelblossom]
JunieGirl Online   content

Frogger
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Registered: 10/13/2006 at 08:00 PM
Posts: 35323
Loc: Worden, Illinois
I think some ivy would be nice--that and ajuga (did I spell that right?)_ spread nicely wil be close to the ground and will give a green look to the ground...
and immediately below the trees should be covered with needles, right??? and therefore will not need growth right up against the trees???
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#270695 - 03/25/2009 at 01:32 PM Re: Plants that grow beneath and around pine trees [Re: JunieGirl]
Miss_Connie Offline
Member

Registered: 08/05/2008 at 08:55 PM
Posts: 33
Loc: Iowa USA
Thank you for these suggestions. They sound very nice for the spot. Some of the trees are bare beneath them, but 90% have grass that grows thick and tall to within inches of the trunks, which makes it quite time consuming to mow around them (there's something about this Iowa dirt, I tell ya). The yard part of our little spot here is 3.25 acres, so it is going to take some time to fill in the tree rows. If it saves me time on mowing and keeps the sheep in the pasture to graze, it will be well worth it.

I'm going to look up these plants, do some research, all that other good stuff. Keep the suggestions coming too...it's early yet ;)

Connie

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#270771 - 03/25/2009 at 09:30 PM Re: Plants that grow beneath and around pine trees [Re: Miss_Connie]
Bestofour Offline
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Registered: 08/10/2003 at 08:00 PM
Posts: 16100
Loc: Monroe, NC
Vinca Minora will grow nicely I think.
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#270790 - 03/26/2009 at 01:30 AM Re: Plants that grow beneath and around pine trees [Re: Bestofour]
JunieGirl Online   content

Frogger
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Registered: 10/13/2006 at 08:00 PM
Posts: 35323
Loc: Worden, Illinois
I think so too but one should be sure they REALLY want it before planting it I think---not to mention I could count on one hand the number of times mine bloomed in the 25 years I had it--It was always nice & green though, that I will say...
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#270809 - 03/26/2009 at 03:47 AM Re: Plants that grow beneath and around pine trees [Re: JunieGirl]
Joclyn Offline
Deep Purple
2k Posts

Registered: 07/18/2005 at 08:00 PM
Posts: 2477
Loc: philly
vinca does best in full-sun conditions...doesn't grow/spread or bloom as much in semi-shade conditions.

what kind of grass is growing right up to the trunks?? must be some kind that loves acidity!! most things won't grow beneath pine trees due to that acidity.

things to plant close by are azaleas or rhododendron (which are in the same family) or hydrangea (if it's very shady and very moist). all like acidity, so they would do fairly well - none are fast-growing though and all are bushes.

remember, whatever you see above ground matches what is below, so, any bushes should be planted far enough away from the dripline so their roots aren't competing with the roots of the trees.

ivy would be perfect except that you'd probably never be able to get rid of it as it's very invasive and the cold weather doesn't affect it a bit! i wouldn't recommend it.
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#270834 - 03/26/2009 at 02:41 PM Re: Plants that grow beneath and around pine trees [Re: Joclyn]
Bestofour Offline
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10k Posts

Registered: 08/10/2003 at 08:00 PM
Posts: 16100
Loc: Monroe, NC
Joclyn, I have to beg to differ with you on this. The vinca minora that was here when I moved in used to be in almost full shade. Since the road work it gets more sun. I don't especially like it but in both circumstances it has grown and spreads like a weed. I am constantly pulling and digging this stuff up. I usually throw it into the field but somehow it's gotten into my compost pile and is growing quite nicely. And Carol Jean, mine blooms almost constantly but our temps are warmer than yours. The temps might be the reason for both concerns.
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#270918 - 03/27/2009 at 04:04 AM Re: Plants that grow beneath and around pine trees [Re: Bestofour]
Joclyn Offline
Deep Purple
2k Posts

Registered: 07/18/2005 at 08:00 PM
Posts: 2477
Loc: philly
the temperature is definitely a factor in how well the vinca grows in your area!! in the warmer zones - 7, 8, 9 - vinca is not something that should be planted anywhere that it has free-range - i'd only put it in containers that far south for just the reasons you talk about, sheri!

i'm in zone 6b and a lot of people have it around here. when it's planted in shady areas, it doesn't grow as quickly and in sunny spots it grows/spreads very nicely. yet, it still doesn't seem *too* invasive here.

i'm basing my comments on the fact that i've traveled the same route to work for 9 years now and there are two properties right across from each other on the same road and both have vinca planted. one side is virtually complete shade all day and the other side gets afternoon sun. the shaded side doesn't seem like it's grown at all - seems to be the same (small) amount of flowers and the vines haven't completely covered the area yet. the other side of the street, that gets some sun during the day, has almost completely filled in the area and there are, obviously, more flowers when it's in bloom.

my own little patch, which is completely surrounded by concrete and in full sun for all but a couple hours in the morning, was started with 8 starts in '99. we had a bad drought that year, so that slowed down the growth a bit and it didn't really get fully established until '01. by fully established i mean that it had obvious growth/spread in one season. it grew steadily; not too excessively until '06 - that year we barely had a winter and then in summer'07 the spot had completely filled in by fall. and last year it was just starting to overgrow the area and spill out on the walkway and driveway.

up here, it's not considered completely invasive - just 'possibly'. i wasn't taking chances and only put it in that one spot because of all the pavement.

iowa is about the same zone as me - maybe a little colder, i think? so, that's why i suggested it. the cold winters will keep it in check easily enough.

if the poster had been anywhere that was warmer, i wouldn't have recommended it!!
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#270947 - 03/27/2009 at 04:01 PM Re: Plants that grow beneath and around pine trees [Re: Joclyn]
Bestofour Offline
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10k Posts

Registered: 08/10/2003 at 08:00 PM
Posts: 16100
Loc: Monroe, NC
I used to have vinca majora everywhere too. Definitely DO NOT like it. I think I finally got rid of it.

People are always asking for roots of the vinca minora and I gladly pull some up and give it to them. I'm usually thinking "they'll be sorry."

The same route for 9 years. I'll bet you've seen a lot of yards come and go.
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#272134 - 04/03/2009 at 02:09 PM Re: Plants that grow beneath and around pine trees [Re: Joclyn]
Carly Offline
3k Posts

Registered: 07/15/2004 at 08:00 PM
Posts: 3499
Loc: Toronto, Canada
I think the rule of thumb is 4 inches from the base of the tree trunk.

We have pines too . . . acidic.

It looks easier on paper.

May I suggest doing some circles around your pines? With some bricks, or other rocks - fill them in with pine cones.

You can always pot some plants and sink them in - a lot easier than fussing with the dig around the pine.

Here's a picture of one of my pine tree tricks - it's not the neatest arrangement at this time, but still, it will illustrate what I mean.

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#272358 - 04/04/2009 at 06:31 PM Re: Plants that grow beneath and around pine trees [Re: Joclyn]
jchilton Offline
Member

Registered: 04/04/2009 at 06:23 PM
Posts: 3
Loc: United States
I have had Vinca under an ash tree behind my house in full shade. They have multiplied until now I have to trim them back. Of course I have been building and nuturing them for 4-5 years. There wasn't even dirt there before. The tree was on a hillside and I had to terrace the area with natural rock and fertilizer. Now I have moved to a different house not to far away but I can still see they are doing fine.

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#273623 - 04/11/2009 at 06:25 PM Re: Plants that grow beneath and around pine trees [Re: Miss_Connie]
hisgal2 Offline
HandyMa'am
4k Posts

Registered: 02/03/2004 at 08:00 PM
Posts: 4236
Loc: 17762
bleeding hearts like shade also. I used to have some under a pine tree....they did fine. I got them as roots, so it did take a couple of years for them to look nice. In time, they grow into a good sized plant.

I also had hosta....LOVED them. I had this really nice old one that was never divided and it was HUGE. There are alot of different varieties of hosta also.
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#279659 - 05/11/2009 at 11:11 PM Re: Plants that grow beneath and around pine trees [Re: hisgal2]
peppereater Offline
Dr. Pepper
3k Posts

Registered: 04/23/2005 at 08:00 PM
Posts: 3086
Loc: pink, ok
There is a lot of confusion with vinca. The annual vinca, perriwinkle, needs full sun. The pererenial vinca's need part shade. Vinca Majoris and Vinca Minoris, I think, are the perrenials. the minora is preferable, tidier and fuller, the majora is taller and less well behaved. I think, the minora is hardy to z4, the majora, z6, it has been a while since I had to look, both are hardy here.
The vincas would do better in a spot where they have top compete with grass than almost anything, Ajuga is pretty, but lower and I think only zone 6 in hardiness.....these are all things to look up, to compare,....the sedums tend to like a little sun, at least, and are not universally hardy, spurge is pretty, but not for everywhere, I'd look into V. minora, Ajuga, mondograss and monkeygrass, or a combination of low-maintenance, low growing groundcovers/shrubs, some of the azaleas are hardy, but not all, ferns, taxus...possibly a cultivar of English Ivy (the parent is very invasive.)
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