Spring Garden Tips

Planting Under Trees

I have a huge oak tree in my Louisiana yard.  One side under the tree is shaded and the other side receives full sun.  Can I plant under this tree?  What plants do you suggest?

Use care when planting under trees. The majority of the feeder roots are in the top 12 inches of the soil. Don’t add soil since as little as an inch can kill some trees. Minimize deep cultivation that can also damage these roots. Consider both light and moisture when selecting perennials to grow under trees with dense canopies. The leaves not only block sunlight but also prevent much of the rainfall from reaching the plants below. Select drought tolerant plants suited to the light conditions under the tree. Once established and mulched, these plants are better able to fend for themselves. Hostas, cast iron plant, barrenwort (Epimedium), deadnettle (Lamium), Brunnera (Siberian bugloss), columbine, coral bells (Heuchera villosa more heat and humidity tolerant), and lily turf  are a few to consider for the shady side of things. Black-eyed Susans, phlox, penstemon, sedums, daylilies, ornamental grasses, salvia and coreopsis are a few of the sun lovers to consider. Some varieties of coral bells, columbine and daylilies can tolerate a wide range of light from shade to sun. Use these to link the two areas together. Repeat color and texture to unify these distinctly different plantings under the tree. For more on gardening under treeswatch Melinda’s Garden Moment Video Dealing with Surface Roots.

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