Growing perennials under a tree
This topic contains 4 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by Anonymous 9 years, 3 months ago.
- March 25, 2010 at 2:22 pm #28976
I’d like to establish a nice perennial bed under some trees in my yard (maple & cedar). These are old, established, shallow rooted trees and they seem to suck every bit of nutrients and moisture out of the soil. I’ve tried several perennials and the only thing thats survived so far is a couple hostas.
Any tips?March 26, 2010 at 1:13 am #29252
Larry, me too. I have a privacy fence that goes around two sides of a huge old maple. The fence needs some work on it, and I’d like to open it up some and add some shrubs and/or perennials on the south side of it. But the tree trunk is only about 20 feet from the fence line, and I suspect the ground is full of roots. Would it be ok to frame up a raised bed at the base of the fence, or would that also be bad for the tree?
–JohannaMarch 27, 2010 at 2:35 am #29267
Be careful about adding to much soil on top of the tree roots as you can suffocate them. A short list of some other perennials that do well in dry shade:
Epimedium, Christmas fern, Helleborus (foetidus and orientalis), Carex siderosticha, begonia grandis.March 27, 2010 at 11:31 am #29269
So do you think it’s better to dig? Or are you saying only put a shallow layer of soil on top of the roots?
-JohannaMarch 28, 2010 at 1:58 am #29271
Johanna, If the bed is near the drip line and/or would be only a small percentage of the footprint (rootprint?) of the tree than a shallow raised bed would probably be fine.
However, if you want to plant the entire area or large portion (greater than 30%)under the tree, it is better to dig, BUT dig sparsly between the roots. Try not to damage the tree roots. Plant smaller sized plants in whatever soil pockets you can find. Now that I think of it, growing up we had a VERY large sugar maple in our back yard that my mother planted pachysandra underneath of. She planted little rooted cuttings, so she wouldn’t have to do any digging, just stick in an asparagus fork and slip in the cutting. Every year she would clip cuttings from the thick parts and fill in the thin patches.
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