20 Things You Can Plant and Grow Under Fruit Trees


landscaping under fruit tree cherry tree

By Jennifer Poindexter

Fruit trees are a great way to add functionality and beauty to your landscape. If you’re like me, you prefer to add splashes of color and texture all throughout your yard.

Adding plants beneath your fruit trees is an excellent way of doing this. If you’re unsure of what to plant in this location, you’re in the right place.

I’ve compiled a list of plants that should thrive beneath your fruit trees. I’ll also share the growing conditions needed and the areas where each plant remains hardy.

Hopefully, this information can guide you on your journey of landscaping around your orchard. Here is a list of things to plant under fruit trees:

What You’ll Learn:

  • Understanding Growing Conditions: Insights on the common growing conditions required by most fruit trees, and how to choose companion plants accordingly.
  • Enhancing Your Landscape: Creative ideas for adding color, texture, and functionality to the space beneath your fruit trees through a variety of plants.
  • Diverse Plant Options: A comprehensive list of 20 different plants, including flowers, herbs, vegetables, and additional fruit options, to consider planting beneath fruit trees.
  • Individual Plant Care: Specific growing conditions, hardiness zones, and care tips for each suggested plant, helping you make an informed decision based on your local climate and soil conditions.
  • Maximizing Garden Space: Strategies for utilizing the area under fruit trees for additional crops or aesthetic enhancement, contributing to a more productive and visually appealing garden.

Growing Conditions for Fruit Trees

There are many types of fruit trees. However, most of them have similar growing conditions. Though, some are known for being more tolerant and can sustain themselves in areas without their exact needs being met. 

When growing a fruit tree, it’s best to select an area with full sunlight. This means the tree should receive a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight each day.

The tree also needs soil that’s well-draining and nutritious. By understanding what your fruit trees need, you’ll have a better idea of which plants could be a good match for growing beneath them.

Now, let’s discuss your options for which plants may perform well when growing beneath fruit trees.

Things to Plant Under Fruit Trees

When planting beneath a fruit tree, the options seem limitless. You may grow flowering plants, herbs, or even vegetables.

Utilize this additional growing space to add beauty or more crops to your yard or garden areas. Here are ideas of things to plant under fruit trees:

1. Daffodils

Daffodils are bright yellow flowers that add a lot of beauty to any growing space. Our fruit trees were already planted when we purchased our property.

However, they’re also surrounded by daffodils, which is great for aesthetic enjoyment. These flowers need soil that’s well-draining and plenty of sunlight. Daffodils should remain hardy in planting zones three through eight.

2. Dandelions

You may be wondering why you should grow dandelions around your fruit trees. After all, aren’t they a weed?

They can be considered a weed, but they’re also useful for making both teas and jellies. If you’d like to grow dandelions, know that they remain hardy in planting zones three through ten. They also don’t need many specifics in a growing space. Obviously, the more nutrient-dense the soil, the better they’ll grow.

3. Onions

If you like to grow your own vegetables, don’t confine yourself to only growing in a garden plot. Instead, plant your veggies beneath your fruit trees.

One crop that should do well beneath fruit trees is the onion. Onions need a growing space with loose, well-draining soil that’s high in nutrients. They also grow best in areas with full sunlight.

4. Comfrey

Comfrey is a perennial herb that produces small lavender blooms. Expect this plant to remain hardy in zones three through nine.

It also grows best in areas with soil that’s both nutrient-dense and loose. The herb thrives in areas of full to partial sunlight.

5. Dill

Dill is a beautiful wispy herb that stands out for its unique foliage and magnificent flavor. If you’d like to grow dill, consider planting it around the base of your fruit trees.

This herb isn’t picky and serves as a perennial in even the poorest of soils from planting zones two through eleven. To set dill up for success, consider growing it in full sunlight and in amended soil. This plant prefers temperatures around 70-degrees Fahrenheit, so it grows best in portions of spring or summer.

lavender in garden

6. Lavender

Lavender is a beautiful bushy herb which produces small, colorful blooms. This plant grows best in areas of full sunlight.

It also needs soil that drains adequately. If you live in an area with warm afternoons, be sure to plant where this herb receives morning sunlight and afternoon shade. Lavender should remain hardy in planting zones five through nine.

7. Chives

Chives are a beautiful herb which could make a great addition in your orchard. Not only do these plants provide an abundance of nice flavor when used around the kitchen, but they’re also great for adding subtle color to your landscape.

When growing chives, be sure to supply ample sunlight and soil that’s both nutrient-dense and well-draining. This herb should remain hardy in planting zones three through ten.

8. Mint

Mint is a beautiful herb, but it’s also one that should be grown with caution. If you plant mint, consider growing it in a container at the base of your fruit trees. The reason being is the herb can easily take over a growing space.

If you decide mint is the right plant to incorporate under your fruit trees, expect it to remain hardy in planting zones three through eight. It also needs full to partial sunlight along with soil that’s evenly damp and well-draining.

allium blooming

9. Allium

Alliums are gorgeous flowers. They begin as a long stem, then they produce a cluster of blooms. The end result is a colorful ball that’s full of small flowers.

To get started growing these flowers, you should expect them to remain hardy in planting zones three through nine. You should also plant them in a location with full sunlight and well-draining soil.

10. Rhubarb

Rhubarb is a delicious perennial that could have a space beneath your fruit trees. It could also be a great way to protect the plant and keep it undisturbed, so it can grow for years to come in areas where rhubarb remains hardy.

When growing rhubarb, expect it to remain hardy in planting zones three through eight. You should also plant it in soil that’s nutritious, evenly damp, and well-draining. Rhubarb also needs ample sunlight to succeed in its growing location.

11. Yarrow

Yarrow could be a nice way to add a pop of color to your orchard area. This plant produces clusters of colorful blooms at the end of long stems.

As you prepare a space for yarrow, ensure it has dappled sunlight. These flowers do best in soil that’s well-draining as they prefer dry conditions and won’t tolerate an oversaturated growing space. Yarrow should remain hardy in planting zones three through nine.

marigold in garden

12. Marigolds

Marigolds are some of my favorite flowers. They come in various colors and are a great way to brighten various growing spaces.

If marigolds are the right plant for you, be sure to select a space which receives plenty of sunlight and has well-draining soil. The less sunlight marigolds receive, the more prone to disease they become. Marigolds grow well in planting zones two through eleven, but are almost always treated as annuals.

13. Elderberry

Elderberry bushes could be a great plant to incorporate beneath your fruit trees because then you can produce two types of fruit in one growing space.

Be sure to supply elderberries with nutritious, well-draining soil and full to partial sunlight. Expect elderberries to remain hardy in planting zones three through seven.

14. Fennel

This next option may be a little shocking because if you know much about fennel, you know it does best when grown away from other plants. However, in this case, it shouldn’t stunt the growth of your fruit tree. Instead, fennel should help keep weeds down and repel pests. 

Ensure you provide fennel with plenty of sunlight and soil that’s rich in nutrients, well-draining, and evenly damp. In turn, fennel should remain hardy in planting zones four through nine.

15. Clover

Clover is a useful ground cover that’s great for adding nitrogen to the soil. If you’d like to plant something around your fruit trees, then don’t overlook this option.

Depending upon the variety you plant, clover may need full sunlight to partial shade. This plant should grow well in almost all planting zones. Check the variety you select to determine if it’s an annual or perennial.

16. Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums are vining annuals which produce rich, green foliage and colorful blooms. This plant could be a great way of adding additional color to the area.

If you think nasturtiums are the right choice for growing around your fruit trees, then be sure to supply a growing location with full sunlight and soil that’s well-draining. These flowers only remain hardy in planting zones nine through eleven.

17. Hyssop

Hyssop looks similar to lavender, but their foliage is the main variation between the two. When growing this plant, be sure you understand what it needs to thrive.

Hyssop needs a dry growing location with well-draining soil. It also does best when grown in direct sunlight to partial shade. Hyssop should remain hardy in planting zones four through eight.

18. Currants

Currants are another type of fruit you may grow beneath your fruit tree to add a polished look to your landscape while also creating additional growing space.

If you’d like to add currants to your landscape, be sure to provide full sunlight and well-draining soil. Expect currants to remain hardy in planting zones three through eight.

19. Borage

Borage is an edible herb that produces blue flowers. When utilizing this plant, both the foliage and blooms may be consumed.

When growing borage, it’ll need well-draining soil and either full sun to partial shade. Borage grows well in planting zones three through ten, but is typically treated as an annual.

20. Tansy

Tansy is hard to miss as it produces bright yellow blooms. If you’re looking for something to brighten the dead space beneath your fruit trees, this plant could be it.

Tansy needs a growing location with plenty of sunlight, though it can handle partial shade as well. It also needs soil that’s both nutrient-dense and well-draining. Tansy remains hardy in planting zones four through eight.

You now have twenty different options for plants to grow beneath your fruit trees. Whether you’re looking for color, functionality, or ground cover to reduce weeds from growing in this space, there’s something on this list to fulfill these requests.

Once you’ve determined the right plants for your growing space, ensure you can provide what each plant needs and are in the right planting zone. Then it’ll be time to begin adding the plants beneath your fruit trees and enjoy their added beauty and functionality.

Key Takeaways:

  • Leverage Underutilized Space: Utilizing the area beneath fruit trees can add both beauty and functionality to your garden.
  • Diverse Options Available: There is a wide variety of plants, ranging from flowers and herbs to additional fruits and vegetables, that can thrive under fruit trees.
  • Consider Growing Conditions: It’s crucial to match the companion plants to the specific needs of your fruit trees and local climate, paying attention to sunlight, soil type, and hardiness zones.
  • Aesthetic and Practical Benefits: Companion planting under fruit trees can provide aesthetic appeal, additional crops, and even benefits like pest control and soil improvement.
  • Tailored Choices: Choose plants that not only complement your fruit trees but also meet your personal preferences and gardening goals, creating a harmonious and productive garden space.

Quick Reference Growing Chart for Plants to Grow Under Fruit Trees

Plant Name Sunlight Requirements Soil Conditions Hardiness Zones Plant Benefits
Daffodils Full Sun Well-draining 3-8 Bright yellow flowers
Dandelions Not Specified Nutrient-dense preferred 3-10 Edible, used for teas and jellies
Onions Full Sun Loose, well-draining, nutritious 3-9 Edible vegetable
Comfrey Full to Partial Sun Nutrient-dense, loose 3-9 Perennial herb with lavender blooms
Dill Full Sun Amended soil preferred 2-11 Herb used for its flavor
Lavender Full Sun, Partial Afternoon Shade Well-draining 5-9 Bushy herb with small, colorful blooms
Chives Full Sun Nutrient-dense, well-draining 3-10 Edible herb with subtle color
Mint Full to Partial Sun Evenly damp, well-draining 3-8 Can be invasive; consider container planting
Allium Full Sun Well-draining 3-9 Flowers forming colorful balls
Rhubarb Full Sun Nutritious, evenly damp, well-draining 3-8 Edible perennial
Yarrow Dappled Sunlight Well-draining, prefers dry conditions 3-9 Produces clusters of colorful blooms
Marigolds Full Sun Well-draining 2-11 (usually treated as annuals) Brightly colored flowers
Elderberry Full to Partial Sun Nutritious, well-draining 3-7 Fruit-bearing bush
Fennel Full Sun Nutrient-rich, well-draining, evenly damp 4-9 Herb known to repel pests
Clover Full Sun to Partial Shade Not Specified Varies by Variety Nitrogen-fixing ground cover
Nasturtiums Full Sun Well-draining 9-11 Vining annual with colorful blooms
Hyssop Full Sun to Partial Shade Well-draining, prefers dry conditions 4-8 Similar appearance to lavender
Currants Full Sun Well-draining 3-8 Additional fruit option
Borage Full Sun to Partial Shade Well-draining 3-10 (usually treated as annual) Edible herb with blue flowers
Tansy Full Sun to Partial Shade Nutrient-dense, well-draining 4-8 Bright yellow blooms

More About Fruit Trees

https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/extension-gardener-handbook/15-tree-fruit-and-nuts

https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/considerations_for_growing_backyard_tree_fruit

https://extension.umd.edu/resource/buying-and-planting-fruit-trees

The post 20 Things You Can Plant and Grow Under Fruit Trees appeared first on Gardening Channel.

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