20 Plants You Can Grow Under Oak Trees


This is an oakleaf hydrandgea growing under the canopy of trees.

By Jennifer Poindexter

Oak trees are interesting plants. There are over 400 species of this tree, and they thrive in areas of full sun to dappled shade.

As long as these trees have sandy, well-draining soil, they typically do well in a growing location. On average, oak trees reach heights between fifty and seventy feet.

If you’re fortunate enough to have an oak tree as part of your landscape, you may wish to liven up the area beneath it.

Here are a few things to plant under oak trees:

Things to Plant Under Oak Trees

When planting beneath an oak tree, there are plenty of options. Browse through this list to see which plants fit your planting zone and the growing conditions you can offer.

Here are a few suggestions for things to plant under oak trees:

1. Azaleas

Azaleas are gorgeous flowering bushes which craft fluffy blooms. When in bloom, the bushes appear like clouds of colors.

If you’re interested in growing this plant, be sure to supply it with well-draining soil that’s more on the acidic side. Also, ensure the plants receive morning sunlight or dappled sunlight throughout the day. Azaleas remain hardy in planting zones six through nine.

2. Hostas

Hostas are shorter, bushy plants made-up of rich foliage. These plants have a classic, polished look to them which is great for most landscapes. When adding hostas to your yard, they’ll need a growing location with partial sunlight or a space with periods of shade. They also need well-draining soil. 

These plants are durable and known for handling periods of drought and warmer temperatures once established. For these reasons, expect them to remain hardy in planting zones three through nine.

3. Wild Lilac

Wild lilac is a bushy plant which sprawls up to ten feet and can become as tall as eight feet. This plant produces beautiful foliage and puffy, lilac colored blooms.

If wild lilac is the right fit for you, it’ll need a growing location with full sunlight or afternoon shade. It also requires soil that drains adequately. Wild lilac should remain hardy in planting zones three through eight.

4. Creeping Sage

Creeping sage is a low-growing flowering plant which produces a carpet of green foliage and small, lightly colored blooms.

Should you grow creeping sage, it’ll need full sunlight and soil that remains on the dry side. Having well-draining soil is a requirement for this plant. Expect creeping sage to remain hardy in planting zones seven through ten.

5. Coral Bells

Coral bells are plants filled with beautiful foliage available in a variety of colors. Out of this foliage grows skinny, dainty stems with delicate blooms at the ends.

Expect these plants to thrive in locations with rich, well-draining soil and partial shade. If you live in a cooler area, you may be able to plant in spaces with more sunlight. Coral bells are hardy in planting zones four through nine.

6. Hummingbird Sage

Hummingbird sage has a base of green foliage. From this base comes longer stems with delicate, small blooms on the end. These plants can spread, but they’re known for taking some time to do so. They’re also known for being quite durable.

If you’re interested in adding hummingbird sage beneath your oak tree, it’ll need an area with aerated soil that’s also well-draining. The plant needs an area with full to partial sunlight as well. Hummingbird sage should remain hardy in planting zones eight through eleven.

7. Deer Grass

Deer grass is a low-maintenance ornamental grass. It’s known for being durable, and it’s also a great way to add some texture beneath your oak tree without adding a lot of color to the area.

When growing deer grass, it doesn’t need much. The plant thrives in most soil types as long as they’re well-draining, but it does need plenty of sunlight. Deer grass should remain hardy in planting zones four and higher.

8. Grape Hyacinth

Grape hyacinth is a unique and beautiful plant. At the top of its stems, are distinctive blooms which look like grapes. If you’d like to add something different but beautiful beneath your oak tree, then be sure to provide grape hyacinths with the appropriate growing conditions. 

These plants thrive in areas with well-draining soil, and they do well in almost any type of lighting. These flowers remain hardy in planting zones three through nine.

9. Bush Poppy

The bush poppy is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a bushier plant which produces brightly colored poppy flowers. If you’re unfamiliar with these blooms, they’re broad and cup-shaped, and produce magnificent colors wherever they’re planted.

Should a bushier variety of flower be the right fit beneath your oak tree, be prepared for this plant to range in height from three to ten feet. This shouldn’t be an issue growing beneath an oak tree due to its height. The plant does need a growing space with plenty of sunlight and soil that’s well-draining. It doesn’t enjoy wet feet. Bush poppies remain hardy in planting zones eight through ten.

10. Douglas Iris

A Douglas iris has a base of beautiful foliage with delicate blooms that fold in different directions. Each petal contains unique designs and colors which are a great addition to most landscapes.

Douglas irises should be provided a growing location with partial shade and soil that’s evenly damp, nutrient-dense, and well-draining. Expect this flower to remain hardy in planting zones seven through nine.

11. Cardinal Flower

The cardinal flower is a personal favorite of mine. The plant produces uniquely shaped, bright red blooms on its long stems. It’s a great way to add vibrant colors to a dull space. 

If you’d like this colorful flower growing beneath your oak tree, be sure it has soil that’s consistently and evenly damp. The area should also be well-draining. Cardinal flowers thrive in most types of lighting and remain hardy in planting zones three through nine.

12. Oregon Grape

Oregon grape is a bushy plant that produces deep green leaves and small yellow blooms which eventually give way to blue berries.

If this plant is something you’re interested in growing, you’re in luck. The only thing it needs is well-draining soil. Oregon grapes thrive in most types of lighting. They also remain hardy in planting zones five through nine.

13. Sweet Woodruff

Sweet woodruff is a low-growing plant that has wispy green leaves and dainty white flowers. It’s a groundcover and produces a beautiful carpet wherever it’s planted.

When adding sweet woodruff beneath your oak tree, be sure it’s provided a shaded growing location and has damp, well-draining soil. Sweet woodruff remains hardy in planting zones four through eight.

14. Purple Needle Grass

Purple needle grass is an ornamental grass that has purple tips. It could make a great addition beneath your oak tree since it only grows to be two to three feet tall.

This grass remains hardy in planting zones seven through eleven and needs a growing location with full to partial sunlight. This plant isn’t picky about soil types as long as it drains adequately.

15. Flannel Bush

Flannel bush produces pretty yellow blooms that peak out between the foliage of this plant. This is a larger plant that reaches heights around twenty feet tall.

If you have poor quality soil, the flannel bush could be a great choice as it does well in any soil type as long as it’s well-draining. The flannel bush needs full sunlight and remains hardy in planting zones six through ten.

16. Coralberry

Coralberry is a fun plant. It’s a bushier option with rich, green leaves. From there, the plant produces bubblegum pink (or darker) berries that are hard to miss.

When looking for a show-stopper to include in your landscape, coralberry could be it. This plant needs full to partial sunlight with well-draining soil that’s nutrient-dense. Coralberry should remain hardy in planting zones three through seven.

17. Wild Ginger

Wild ginger is a simplistic but pretty ground cover. If you aren’t into bright flowers and would prefer subtle pops of color around your tree, then wild ginger deserves your attention.

Should this be a plant of your choice, expect it to remain hardy in planting zones four through eight. It also prefers a growing location with full to part shade. Too much sun can burn the heart-shaped foliage. Wild ginger also needs soil that’s nutritious and well-draining.

18. Oakleaf Hydrangea

Oakleaf hydrangea could be a good fit if you’d like the foliage to match your tree. This plant has oak-shaped leaves and produces an abundance of beautiful blooms.

Oakleaf hydrangeas should remain hardy in planting zones five through nine and need a growing location with full to partial sunlight. This plant also does best in rich, well-draining soil.

19. Toyon

Toyon (also known as California holly) is a beautiful shrub-like plant that reaches heights around eight feet tall. This plant produces green leaves and bright red berries. 

When deciding to add toyon to your landscape, be sure to provide a growing location with ample sunlight and heavy soil that drains adequately. Toyon remains hardy in planting zones seven through ten.

20. Holly

Our final option could be a good fit if you’d like to make your landscape appear more natural. Instead of planting bright flowers or flowering shrubs, you could plant a small tree beneath your oak.

Holly trees are a great option because of their beautiful leaves, red berries, and their complimentary height. Holly becomes as tall as thirty feet. It prefers a growing location with plenty of sunlight and well-draining soil. If provided adequate care, this tree should remain hardy in planting zones five through nine.

You now have a variety of options for things to plant under oak trees. Hopefully this list will inspire you to create a landscape you love.

Be sure to supply adequate growing conditions to set your plants up for success. Then provide adequate care and watch your growing space transform into an area of great beauty.

More About Oak Trees

https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/quercus/

https://oaks.cnr.berkeley.edu/oak-tree-species-id-ecology/

https://extension.uga.edu/publications/detail.html?number=B1286&title=key-to-diseases-of-oaks-in-the-landscape

The post 20 Plants You Can Grow Under Oak Trees appeared first on Gardening Channel.

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