15 Best Plants for Under Trees

15 Best Plants for Under Trees

Planting flowers under trees is a look that many gardeners love, but it is often not an easy one to achieve. The first step that you may need to do is prune off some of your tree’s lower branches so that more light gets to the flowers. Avoid using too much mulch or building raised beds because trees take in oxygen through their surface roots, and you may kill them.

Planting the right flowers that will not fight the tree for nutrients is another key to keep in mind.

You may want to consider these plants that may grow well under your trees.

Hostas

Hostas

Available in hundreds of varieties, hostas are low-growing, clump-forming perennial plants that thrive in indirect sunlight in zones 3 to 9. Depending on the type chosen, they will put on white, lavender, or pink flowers in the summer. If your choice has green-and-yellow variegated foliage, then exposing it to a few hours of morning sun brings out more of the yellow color.

Ferns

Ferns

There are over 20,000 types of ferns grown around the world, and it is easy to find one that you love and is perfect for your landscaping. Like the Boston fern, many grow as wide as they do tall. Think about the amount of water that your tree needs before choosing your fern type. For instance, Kimberly Queen ferns are perfect for planting around trees that require very little water.

Primrose

Primrose

There are over 600 varieties of primroses available, and most will grow from zone 3 to 8. You can find varieties that mature at about 6 inches and others that will grow to be over 6-feet tall. These deer-resistant plants bloom in the spring, and you can find a variety of color choices, including blue, green, red, orange, white, pink and yellow.

Wild ginger

Wild-ginger

This plant that often grows to be about one-foot tall blooms in the late spring and early summer. It can be hard to see the red flowers, however, because of wild ginger’s abundant foliage. This plant that does not require a lot of moisture grows well from zones 3 to 8. Its deer-resistant, heart-shaped leaves will remain green until the first hard frost.

Crocus

Crocus

Plant crocuses in the fall to see their beautiful blooms in the early spring in zones 3 to 8. In zones 6 to 10, you can also find crocuses that will bloom in the fall. There are over 90 members of this family, with most growing from 4-to-6-inches tall. Crocuses are available in a variety of colors, from deep purple to sunshine yellow.

Black-eyed Susan

Black-Eyed-Susan

Maturing about 20-inches tall, these plants grow in zones 4 to 9. The prominent center of each flower is black or dark brown, and bright-yellow petals surround it. The leaves on this plant are long and lance-like. The leaves and stalk grow on a roughly textured stalk. This pioneer plant can stand almost any conditions.

Stonecrop

Stonecrop

You can find stonecrop plants that will grow almost 2-feet tall and others that stay much smaller and are perfect as a groundcover under a tree. Most upright stonecrop plants produce terminal clusters of five-pointed stars in a variety of colors. Most varieties bloom in late summer and early-fall. Upright stonecrop flowers often look awesome in cut-flower bouquets.

Impatiens

Impatiens

While you can grow impatiens as an annual in any zone, they can be grown as a perennial in zones 9 and 10. The most common varieties grow to be about 12-inches tall. You can find white, red, pink, violet, coral, purple, and yellow options in this plant that blooms in the spring and summer. Five-petaled petals that can be up to 2.5-inches wide cover this plant, and you can find some double-flowering choices. The green leaves are ovate to elliptic in shape and can be 3-inches long.

Bleeding heart

Bleeding-Heart

Hardy from zone 2 to 8, this plant produces small, heart-shaped flowers in the spring. This moisture-loving plant will disappear if it gets too hot or dry, but it will reappear the next year. This option is a great choice to plant under a deciduous tree in many cases because it will get the sun that it needs to bloom prolifically in early spring while benefiting from the tree’s leafy shade on the summer’s hottest days.

Pieris Japonica

Pieris-Japonica

This shrub does very well under trees, and it will grow to be 9-to-12 feet tall. It puts on a show display mid-spring. The drooping clusters of flowers that can be up to 6-inches long look like lily-of-the-valley flowers. Pink, red and white are all available. Obovate-oblong, rusty-red leaves appear in the early spring on this plant that grows in zones 5 to 8. The leaves turn glossy green as the year progresses. In the fall, this plant puts on bead-like flower buds to prepare for the next year.

Mountain Laurel

Mountain-Laurel

If you live in zones 4 to 8, mountain laurel may be perfect for planting under your tree. This plant grows from 5-to-15-feet tall blooms in late spring. The cup-like flowers that may be pink, rose or white will stay through most of the summer. When planting this shade-loving shrub, be sure that you do not bury the bulb’s crown, or it will not grow.

Lungwort

Lungwort

This plant’s lung-shaped leaves were once believed to help cure lung diseases, and it is one of the very few that will thrive under black-walnut trees. The leaves on this plant are green with random white spots, like freckles. Lungwort puts on tiny flowers in spring that can be white, pink or blue. Two-colored flowers are common as are those that change colors throughout their blooming period. This plant grows up to 12-inches tall spreads, and it can be divided in the spring or fall.

Japanese Spurge

Japanese-spurge

If you are looking for a mat-forming plant in zones 4 to 8, consider Japanese Spurge. This plant that can grow up to 6-inches tall often has an 18-inch span. This evergreen ground cover has tiny white flower spikes in the early spring, but its principal value is in its foliage. Saw-toothed, obovate leaves are glossy and can be up to 4-inches long.

Butterfly Weed

Butterfly-Weed

If you are looking for a flower to go under your tree that will add visual interest throughout the summer and fall, consider the butterfly weed. This plant that grows from zone 3 to 9 puts on clusters of 25 to 30 star-shaped, bright orange flowers in the early summer and will keep putting them on for many months. Each flower consists of five reflexed petals and five horns on a five-parted crown protrudes above light-green hoods. After the flowers, this plant that grows about 20-inches tall puts on seed pods.

Azaleas

Azaleas

This spring-blooming plant is another great option for planting under trees. While you can find some cold-weather varieties, most thrive in zones 4 to 9. You can also find many different shades of azaleas, including pinks, whites, reds, purples, and others. After the plant flowers in the spring, you can expect several weeks of blooms. The pointed, leathery leaves of this plant add visual interest.


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