Is there anything you can grow under your large evergreen tree?
Mature evergreens are a challenge for even the greenest of thumbs. First of all, they thrive in acidic soil that is inhospitable to may plants. Their dense branches can prevent rain or snow from reaching the soil, and their large roots get the remaining ground water. Unless they are pruned, evergreen limbs allow little sun to penetrate to the ground below.
Consequently, the only plants that thrive under evergreens are those that can tolerate shade, drought, and acidic soil. The simplest choice is a spreading ground cover, such as bearberry, creeping raspberry, Metallica Crispa bugle weed, evergreen currant, bishop’s hat, and wooly thyme.
Perennials that can grow under evergreens include columbine, bleeding hearts, Lamium, coral bells, hosta, bergenia, cranesbill, Jacob’s ladder, and lily of the valley.
If you have an evergreen with branches at least 10 feet above the ground, rhododendron and witch alder shrubs can tolerate acidic soil and shade and, once established, do not need much water.
No matter what you plant, make sure to give it extra water for at least the first year because it can be difficult for the roots to establish themselves amid the spread of evergreen roots.
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