Native Plants that Grow Under Pines

The plants listed in today’s post are great choices for planting under most deciduous trees, and all are tolerant of the acid environment under conifers (pine, spruce, fir, etc.). The rhizomatous species work well as groundcover. (Scroll to end of article to see images of Bearberry in sandy conditions under pines.)

Planting Tips:

  1. Keep in mind the mature heights of plants as well as their mature width. The height of the tree and the height of its lowest branches will influence how tall the under-planting should be.
  2. Care should be taken to minimize disturbance and damage to tree roots during the preparation and planting processes. It is best to avoid large power equipment. There is a common misconception that most tree roots are deep and create a mirror image of the tree’s crown. In reality, most roots are fairly close to the surface and reach even beyond the drip-line.
  3. In an effort to disturb tree roots as little as possible, plant small-size container plants (2-1/2″ to 4″ pots), even if they will grow to a much bigger mature size. Remember to space plants allowing for their mature size.
  4. It is a good idea to mulch your transplants, especially when newly planted. The new small plants are sharing the available moisture with a large tree. Mulch will help to retain valuable water. In a woodland environment plants benefit from the cover of leaves and pine needles.

Flowering Herbacious Plants

Scientific Name Common Name Height Soil Moiture Notes
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi Bearberry 6″ – 1′ Dry-medium Rhizomatous; Deer resistant
Asarum canadense Wild Ginger 1’ Dry-medium Rhizomatous
Aquilegia canadensis Columbine 2-4’ Dry-medium Deer resistant, hummingbirds
Aster divaricatus White Woodland Aster 2-4’ Dry-medium Rhizomatous
Aster cordifolius Heart Leaved Aster 2-3’ Dry-medium Rhizomatous
Cornus canadensis Bunchberry 6″ 1’ Dry-moist Rhizomatous, Deer resistant
Gaultheria procumbens Wintergreen 6″-1′ Dry-moist Rhizomatous
Geranium maculatum Wild Geranium  1-2’ Dry-medium Rhizomatous
Heuchera Americana American Alum Root 1-3’ Dry-medium
Helianthus strumosus Woodland Sunflower 3-5’ Dry-medium Rhizomatous, Bird, Deer resistant
Podophyllum peltatum Mayapple 1-2’ Dry-medium Rhizomatous. Foliage dies back in late summer.
Polemonium reptans Jacob’s Ladder  1-2’ Medium Excellent texured foliage.
Smilacina racemosa Solomon’s Plume 1-3’ Medium Rhizomatous
Smilacina stellata Starry Solomon’s Plume 1-2’ Dry-medium Rhizomatous
Solidago flexicaulis Zigzag Goldenrod 2-4’ Dry-medium Rhizomatous
Solidago odora Anise Scented Goldenrod 1-2’  Dry-medium
Uvularia grandiflora Bellwort  1-2’ Dry-medium Spring Ephemeral.

Ferns

Scientific Name Common Name Height Soil Moiture Notes
Adiantum pedatum Maidenhair Fern 1′ Dry-medium Rhizomatous; Deer resistant
Athyrium felix-femina Lady Fern 1’-2′ Dry-medium Rhizomatous; Deer resistant
Gymnocarpium Dryopteris Oak Fern 6″-1’ Dry-medium Rhizomatous; Deer resistant
Osmunda regalis Royal Fern 3′-6′ Moist Rhizomatous; Deer resistant

Sedges

Scientific Name Common Name Height Soil Moiture Notes
Carex eburnea Ivory Sedge 4”’-11″ Dry-medium Deer resistant
Carex pensylvanica Pennsylvania Sedge 1’ Dry-medium Rhizomatous; Deer resistant

 


Bearberry, growing under pines and among the juniper
along the Lake Michigan shoreline:

Bearberry along the Lake Michigan shoreline.

3 thoughts on “Native Plants that Grow Under Pines

  1. thanks for this article on native plants that grow under pines. Is it possible to grow any or these plants indoors? If yes, under what conditions? is it possible to grow any native plants (new england’s native plants) indoors? Thanks so much in advance for taking the time (if you can) to attend to these questions–I really do appreciate it!

    • Hi Penelope, Any of the plants will grow indoors — up to a point. But they do have dormant winter cycles. At the Nursery we grow our plants “indoors” in greenhouses, but in the winter they all go into a cold winter storage area. None are kept growing indoors throughout the winter. If you are talking about growing year around indoors I think you would have to experiment with it and let us know how it goes!