25 Ideas for Plants to Grow Under a Tree


growing coleus under trees

by Jennifer Poindexter

When you drive past a home with established trees and gorgeous flowers blooming beneath them, it makes the home standout.

Would you like to make your home standout in the same way? You’re in luck because I’ve come up with a list of plants that should thrive when planted beneath a tree.

You must take the planting zone and growing conditions into consideration when picking plants to liven up the area beneath your trees.

But use this information to help guide you along the way. Here are your options for plants that grow well beneath established trees:

1. Hostas

Hostas are gorgeous plants that grow to be between one and two feet tall. They make any area standout with their lavish green foliage and subtle blooms.

They’re hardy plants in zones three through nine. Plus, they make a great companion for mature trees as they like to grow in partial to full shade. They should thrive as long as they have well-draining soil.

2. Boxwood

Have you ever considered planting shrubs beneath a tree? If you haven’t, this list is about to blow your mind. If you’d like a low-maintenance option to landscape beneath trees, don’t overlook the boxwood.

These shrubs are an excellent option because their growing conditions are easy to meet. They grow in any type of light and become as tall as twenty feet. Boxwoods are hardy in planting zones five through nine.

3. Bleeding Hearts

Bleeding hearts is a beautiful bush that has long limbs with colorful, heart-shaped blooms. These plants can grow as tall as three feet and prefer partial shade. This plant likes to bloom early. 

Therefore, growing it beneath a deciduous tree is a great option because when the climate is still cool, the bush can receive sunlight. However, as the temperatures rise, the leaves can protect the plant from receiving too much sunlight. Bleeding hearts are hardy in planting zones three through nine.

4. Columbine

Columbine is a mounding plant that produces vibrant star-shaped flowers. This plant can grow as tall as three feet.

They’re hardy in planting zones three through nine and can grow in either full or partial sunlight. Ensure the soil is well-draining and evenly damp. Oversaturated soil can cause these flowers to struggle.

growing cranesbill

5. Cranesbill

Cranesbill produces simple, colorful blooms and grows to be around two feet tall. They thrive in planting zones four through nine.

If you’d like to grow this gorgeous flower beneath your trees, ensure they grow in well-draining, loamy soil. These plants appreciate partial shade, so they should do well beneath a mature tree.

6. Aster

Asters produce colorful, yet simple blooms. These plants grow to be anywhere from one to six feet tall once they’ve reached full maturity.

However, you should be picky about the variety of aster you plant beneath a tree. Some prefer full sunlight while others thrive when provided partial shade. In most cases, you’ll want to lean towards a variety that enjoys a little bit of shade.

7. Lilies

Would you like a plant that stops you in your tracks when in bloom? Lilies could be the plant for you. They’re hard to miss with their trumpet-shaped blooms and gorgeous colors.

Lilies are hardy in planting zones four through nine. They grow to be anywhere from two to eight feet in height. These flowers aren’t particular about growing conditions. They can grow in a variety of lighting and soil situations. Yet, it’s always wise to plant in well-draining soil.

8. Primrose

Primrose are classic flowers that come in a variety of colors. This is an excellent selection for growing beneath a tree because this plant enjoys partial shade.

These flowers will grow to be between a half foot to two feet in height. They’re also hardy in planting zones four through eight.

9. Azaleas

Azaleas are gorgeous bushes, but be mindful of where you plant them as they can be toxic to some animals. Should you choose to grow azaleas beneath your tree, you won’t need many of them as they can grow to be five feet in height and width.

These plants are versatile as they’re hardy in planting zones six through nine. Be sure to provide them with shade from the afternoon heat and plant them in well-draining soil.

10. Bloodroot

If you’d like plant life to bloom beneath a tree year-round, consider planting multiple items which provide a rotating bloom schedule. However, be sure all the plants play nicely together instead of hindering one another.

Bloodroot could be a nice choice if you need a plant to bloom in late winter through early spring. This is a perennial plant in zones three through eight. This flower thrives in shade but needs damp, well-draining soil wherever it grows. If you’d like soft white blooms to appear in the cold portions of the year, consider growing bloodroot.

11. Pansies

I love pansies. They have a name that frequently gets correlated with something or someone that’s wimpy. In reality, these are durable flowers. They come in an array of colors and can handle colder temperatures. Pansies will be less than a foot when they reach maturity. 

Also, they thrive in cooler weather in planting zones seven through ten. These flowers do best when grown in areas where they receive ample morning sunlight but afternoon shade. You should also grow pansies in nutrient-rich, well-draining soil.

12. Ferns

We typically think of ferns as annuals unless you live in extremely warm climates. However, there are some that are hardy in planting zones four and higher. Be sure to research the variety of fern you choose to know what to expect.

Keep in mind, most ferns prefer indirect sunlight and have specific humidity needs which must be met. Also, research how tall your variety of fern will become because they can range from one to six feet in height once they reach maturity.

13. Merry Bells

Merry bells are plants that produce yellow, bell-shaped blooms which dangle. This is a hardy plant in zones four through nine.

You can expect merry bells to reach a height of one to two feet once fully mature. They like shaded areas but need well-draining, nutrient-dense soil. Expect merry bells to bloom in the later portion of spring.

14. Lamium

Lamium has rich green foliage and petite purple blooms. This plant will spread but grows to be less than a foot tall.

It’s hardy in planting zones four through eight and thrives in full to partial shade. Too much sunlight can scorch the plant’s foliage. Be sure to plant lamium in well-draining soil and don’t oversaturate it.

growing sage under trees

15. Sage

Have you considered growing a small herb garden beneath your mature trees? Some herbs make good candidates for this, sage being one of them. This herb will grow to be between one and three feet tall.

Sage is also hardy in planting zones four through eight. However, you must grow it in well-draining soil. The sandier the better. This herb can also thrive in full to partial sunlight as well.

16. Stonecrop

Stonecrop is also commonly known as sedum. This is a perennial plant that produces tight clusters of blooms. The plant becomes approximately two feet tall and two feet wide.

You can expect stonecrop to be hardy in planting zones four through nine. The plant needs well-draining soil that’s also dense in nutrients.

17. Daffodils

Daffodils are such a cheerful flower. They typically grow to be between one and three feet tall and only about a foot wide. These are perennial flowers in zones three through eight. However, be sure you look at the amount of sun the flowers would get beneath your tree. 

In my experience, daffodils grow well around smaller mature trees (like dwarf fruit trees) because they still receive enough sunlight to bloom. In instances where they grow beneath larger trees, they may not receive enough light. Therefore, they’ll only produce foliage and no blooms.

18. Impatiens

Impatiens are colorful flowers that grow low to the ground and do great when grown in groups. These flowers typically max out at a foot in height. They’re also normally grown as annuals since they’re only hardy in planting zones ten and eleven.

Should you choose to grow impatiens beneath your tree, be sure they’re grown in well-draining soil that’s high in nutrients. These flowers thrive in partial shade and will grow taller the more of them you plant together.

19. Coral Bells

Coral bells is a mounding plant with deeply colored foliage and lightly colored, subtle, blooms. If you want something simple but beautiful to landscape beneath your trees, this could be the plant for you.

These plants grow to be between one and two feet in height. They thrive in partial shade but require well-draining, nutrient-dense soil. Coral bells are hardy in planting zones four through nine.

growing yarrow under trees

20. Yarrow

Yarrow is a taller plant that reaches heights between two and three feet. It produces tight clusters of colorful blooms that brighten up the growing space. These flowers need well-draining soil, and you must be careful not to oversaturate them. 

Also, yarrow grows best in full sunlight, so ensure your tree isn’t blocking the sun from reaching these flowers. It’s hardy in planting zones three through nine.

21. Crocus

Crocuses are beautiful, small flowers that burst forth in radiant colors. They have cup-shaped blooms that open to receive both water and sunlight.

These flowers only grow to be three to six inches tall. They’re hardy in planting zones three through eight. Plus, they thrive in growing locations with partial sunlight and well-draining soil.

22. Black-Eyed Susan

Black-eyed Susans are hard to miss because of their brightly colored blooms with a dark center. Be mindful of the variety you plant as some only grow to be about two feet tall while others can become taller than four feet.

These flowers are hardy in planting zones three through ten. However, they do prefer more sunlight. Though, they can thrive in partial shade as well. Be sure to grow black-eyed Susans in well-draining soil.

23. Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas are another shrub option to plant beneath an established tree. These are bigger bushes that produce large blooms.

You can expect these shrubs to become as tall as ten feet. They thrive in well-draining, nutrient-dense soil and partial sunlight. These are hardy shrubs in zones three through seven.

24. Snowdrops

Snowdrops are plants that grow low to the ground and produce bell-shaped white blooms. They’re hardy in planting zones three through eight and only grow to be approximately four inches tall.

They thrive in areas with full to partial sunlight. You can expect these flowers to bloom somewhere between October and April. However, their most common blooming time is between February and March.

growing coleus under trees

25. Coleus

The final plant you should consider growing beneath a tree is coleus. It’s another plant that’s recognized for its unique foliage. Depending upon the variety, the foliage can be rich and dark or vibrant and light.

These plants don’t usually grow taller than three feet and are annuals in most locations as they’re only hardy in planting zone eleven. You should ensure coleus has nutrient-dense, well-draining soil.

You now have twenty-five different options for plants to grow beneath a mature tree. You should notice the growing conditions each plant needs. Some will thrive beneath trees with lots of foliage. 

Yet, others will need to grow beneath a smaller mature tree to ensure their lighting requirements are met. Look at your growing location, compare that to the needs of the plants you select, and start landscaping your yard (when permissible) in your growing location.

More About Plants That Grow Well Beneath Trees

https://extension.umn.edu/flowers/coleus

https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/galanthus-nivalis/

landscaping under tree with text overlay twenty five ideas for plants to grow under a tree

The post 25 Ideas for Plants to Grow Under a Tree appeared first on Gardening Channel.

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