Ask A Gardener – Planting Under a Pine Tree

Tuesday May 2, 2017

Planting underneath any tree, particular a big, well-established pine, can sometimes be a challenge. The big tree creates much different conditions than exist the rest of your garden. But with a little planning and the right plants, you can have a beautiful flower bed anywhere!


Many people worry that the needles from the pine tree raise the acidity in the soil, making it hard to grow other plants. This is actually a bit of an Old Gardener’s Tale. Fresh pine needles are slightly acidic, but by the time they drop to the ground, they’ve lost most of their acidity. Even many decades of dropped pine needles won’t change the soil pH all that much. The two bigger factors to consider when choosing plants are the water and light requirements.


The real reason some plants struggle when planted under a pine tree is usually lack of water. With its deep roots, the evergreen drinks up most of the water before the little flowers can get any. Your new plants will need extra water, especially the first year.


The dense foliage of a pine makes for a very shady area. And because evergreens are, well, evergreen it’ll be shady all the time. Look for plants that don’t need much sunlight to thrive. With that in mind, here are some plants that do well planted under pine trees.