Plants that Grow Under Pine Trees

Are pine needles are the cause of acidic soil beneath pine trees? The surprising answer – as this idea is pretty common – is no, pine needles do not cause the soil to be overly acidic. Normally, pine needles barely affect the soil PH, but they can cause slighly more acidic conditions if they are worked into the soil. The pine needles, which are themselves fairly acidic, lay on top of the soil and decompose very slowly. The slow decomposition allows microbes in the soil to neutralize the acidity from the pine needles, over time.

Pines trees (conifers) naturally prefer acidic soil, and it’s best to choose like-minded plants as companions for underplanting.

 The problem lies in whether the plants can survive the pine needle mulch that will surround them. Pine needles are very dry, with a waxy coating, and overall their value as a mulch is not very good or effective. The other condition which prevails under pines is the shade. While many plants can grow near pine trees, not many can survive directly beneath the pine tree in constant shade.

Plants that thrive under pine trees will prefer an acidic soil and have the ability to withstand shade and drought. It sounds limiting, but there are many plants, including flowers, ferns and sedges that are good choices. 

Actaea pachypoda - White Doll's Eyes
Actostaphylos uva-ursi - Bearberry
Asarum canadense - Wild Ginger
Aquilegia canadensis - Columbine
Aster divaricatus - White Woodland Aster
Aster cordifolius - Heart Leaved Aster
Cardamine concatenata - Cutleaf Toothwort
Dicentra eximia - Wild Bleeding Heart
Geranium maculatum - Wild Geranuium
Helianthus divaricatus - Woodland Sunflower
Hepatica acutiloba - Sharp Lobed Hepatica
Heuchera villosa - Maple Leaved Alum Root
Iris cristata - Dwarf Crested Iris
Maianthemum stellatum - Starry Solomon's Plume
Mertensis virginica - Virginia Bluebells
Podophyllum peltatum - Mayapple
Polemonium pertans - Jacob's Ladder
Polygonatum biflorum - Solomon's Seal
Solidago flexicaulis
- Zigzag Goldenrod
Solidago odora - Anise Scented Goldenrod
Trillium grandiflorum - Large Flowered (white) Trillium
Trillium recurvatum - Prairie Trillium
Uvularia gradiflora
- Bellwort

Adiantum pedatum - Maidenhair Fern
Athyrium felix-femina - Lady Fern
Dennstaedtia punctilobula - Hayscented Fern
Dryopteris marginalis - Marginal Wood Fern
Gymnocarpium dryopteris - Oak Fern
Osmunda regalis - Royal Fern

Carex eburnea - Ivory Sedge
Carex pensylvanica - Pennsylvania Sedge
Chasmanthium latifolium - Northern Seaoats

Viburnum trilobum - Highbush Cranberry
Bush Honeysuckle - Diervilla lonicera

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