Pine trees are some of the most common trees in North America, but what to plant under pine trees? Keep reading for 20 plants that thrive beneath these evergreen giants.
10 Ornamental Plants That Thrive Under Pine Trees
The soil under pine trees tends to be quite acidic, so you’ll need to try acid-loving plants under your tree such as the following:
- Wild Geranium blossoms
- Jacob’s ladder
- Hosta flowers
- Hydrangea bushes
- Azalea shrubs
- Witch Alder
- Sweet Woodruff
- Creeping Phlox
- Rhododendron flowers
- Lily of the Valley
10 Edible Plants That Can Grow Under Pine Trees
Ornamental plants are normally much easier to grow under pine trees, but there are several edible plants you can grow as well. Try any of these if you’re trying to garden under a pine tree:
- Wild Strawberry
- Pricky Pear
- Mountain Cranberry
- Wild Ginger
- Currant Ribes
- Cinnamon fern
- Northern Blueberry
Considering their extensive use as dried bathroom implements, you might be surprised to see loofah plants on a list of edibles. When harvested earlier enough, however, the vegetable tubers on a loofah plant are edible and even sometimes sold as Chinese okra.
What’s the Soil Like Under Pine Trees?
Since pine trees only really grow in acidic conditions, the soil tends to have a fairly low pH level. Any plants that grow alongside pine trees tend to like acidic soils.
The dirt immediately underneath trees tends to receive fairly little sunlight, making it inappropriate to grow many plants. This is the main reason that grass tends to not grow underneath pine trees although lawns have almost the same pH level needs.
Should I Leave Pine Needles Under the Tree?
Leaving pine needles under the trees that make them can help the tree grow. As they turn brown and break down, the needles themselves will start to turn into organic compounds that will fertilize the tree.
You might also consider adding them to your compost box because they could break down in there and contribute to the overall compost mix.
Will Hydrangea Grow Under Pine Trees?
Hydrangea flowers grow quite well under pine trees, though you’ll need to give them enough water. Larger pine trees can block out sunlight, so plan accordingly.
While hydrangea cultivars might like shade, they do need at least some sunlight. You’ll also want to make sure that the soil has enough nutrients in it for them.
Will Tulips Grow Under Pine Trees?
Tulips can’t grow very well under pine trees. If you plant tulip bulbs under a pine tree, then they’ll probably sprout but won’t get very large.
Evergreen trees tend to block out a large amount of sunlight, which can really hurt sun-loving plants like tulips.
Will Holly Grow Under Pine Trees?
Holly may grow under pine trees, but the two plants will more than likely start to compete. Most variants of holly have a tendency to take over at least some of the resources other plants need to grow, so they don’t make good companions.
Should I Mulch Under Pine Trees?
Add around 2-3 inches of mulch around the base of your pine trees to help keep in moisture and nourish the roots. Don’t be alarmed when the mulch starts to break down, because it’ll fertilize the tree as well.
Are Pine Needles Good for Anything?
Since pine needles decompose so quickly, they can add nourishment to a tree’s roots and make a great addition to your compost heap. Depending on what state they’re in, they can count as either green or brown material in a compost box.
Most pine needles will hold water fairly well, which is why they’re sometimes put alongside acid-loving plants. Assuming that you don’t use unnatural fertilizers or pesticides, you can also boil pine needles into a sort of tea that contains a larger amount of vitamin C than most fruit juices.
What Vegetables Grow Well Under Pine Trees?
Edible ferns, like maidenhair and cinnamon fern, tend to grow fairly well under pine trees and can be eaten when prepared properly. Out of your more conventional vegetables, Chinese okra will probably do the best.
Some people grow potatoes underneath pine trees, but they have to prune them constantly to get the plants enough sunlight. The same goes for pretty much any tuber you might want to put under a pine tree.
Can You Plant Tomatoes by Pine Trees?
Tomatoes are acid-loving plants that need a pH that’s somewhere around 5.5-7, so they should do fairly well near pine trees. The problem is that many tomato cultivars also need a fair amount of sunlight, so you can’t plant them too close to the trunk of the tree or they might get shaded out.
Try to position your tomatoes in a way that gives them the amount of sunlight their seedling tag recommended. Different cultivars have equally diverse needs so you must know the exact type of tomatoes that you’re growing.
Can I Plant Blueberries Under Pine Trees?
Plant so-called Northern blueberries, which are also referred to as northblue or Vaccinium fruits. These tend to do best under pine trees.
Another related cultivar is sometimes called the North Country blueberry, which is essentially a domesticated version of this wild berry. It’s slightly sweeter and should grow almost equally as well near pine trees.
Can Lavender Grow Under Pine Trees?
Don’t put your lavender plants under a pine tree. Lavender needs quite a bit of sun to survive and many cultivars are grown with the expectation of receiving full sunlight.
Most lavender plants also prefer to be grown in alkaline soil while pine trees prefer more acidic conditions. Pine trees don’t really change the soil pH themselves, but anywhere that they thrive isn’t going to be very welcoming to a lavender plant.
Hi, I’m John Stephens, chief editor and writer for Totalgardener.com. I’ve been gardening and raising animals for over 15 years starting with a small backyard plot in Northern Virginia where I grew corn, potatoes, squash, and using a high mulch technique called the Ruth Stout Method. I also raised ducks and small mammals for meat and eggs in a movable pen similar to the ones used by Joel Salatin. I later moved to Colorado where I experimented with growing greens using aquaponics inside. I eventually added a microgreens setup and home sprouting operation. I’m excited to share everything I’ve learned plus more from the other local gardening and animal raising experts I know.