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12 Plants to grow beneath trees that will level up your landscaping game

April 30th, 2021

Creating a beautiful space under a shady landscape can be a challenge. The visibility is tricky and many plants don’t grow well under trees due to reduced sunlight. Some plants could even potentially end up competing with the tree for water and nutrients as well.

Fear not! There are many different plants that make a wonderful addition to your shade landscape that can live in conditions with low light and water. The underneath of your tree is the perfect canvas for creating a beautiful shade garden.

Here are 12 plants that will grow strong under your trees to really add some depth to your landscape and make those shaded areas really pop.

1. Sword Fern

This low-lying perennial is a perfect choice for those who are native to the Pacific Northwest where they actually grow natively in the wild. This plant thrives in cool and rainy climates. Placed under a pine or cedar tree and this beautiful green can grow up to three or four feet.

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Pexels - Mona Source: Pexels - Mona

2. Daffodil

This crowd favorite is most cozy in environments with low moisture and light. This beautiful flower is so versatile it can grow under any tree under the right conditions. All you need to do is plant the bulbs in the fall and they’ll sprout in the spring.

Although if you’re looking for a plant that’s around all year I’d recommend looking into other options in this list because these only appear during blooming season.

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Unsplash - Yoksel Zok Source: Unsplash - Yoksel Zok

3. Clumping Bamboo

This is a plant recommended for the dedicated gardener. If not cared for it can become invasive so it can potentially backfire if you’re not paying attention. Clumping bamboo will be sure to thrive and even multiply as your tree’s next strong companion. This bamboo actually grows best in low light and moisture conditions.

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Unsplash - Chuttersnap Source: Unsplash - Chuttersnap

4. Columbine

This beautiful wildflower is a great versatile addition to your shade garden. This plant can hold up in the worst conditions as it’s drought and shade-tolerant. Columbine can be seen beginning to blossom during its season around late May. It’s a unique beauty that is super prone to mutation, which can result in unique foliage and blossoms.

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Pixabay - Bru-nO Source: Pixabay - Bru-nO

5. California Iris

California Iris blooms in the springtime and can be cream, purple, blue, or white in appearance. It’s the ideal plant to live under your younger trees. This tiny statement packed with wonderful fragrance ever rarely grows over two feet.

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Unsplash - Olga Mandel Source: Unsplash - Olga Mandel

6. Rosemary

Not only is this a wonderful addition to your kitchen, but it’s also wonderful in your shade garden. This popular herb is very low maintenance and you only need to water it occasionally when the conditions are hot and arid. This multi-purpose spice is happy growing under any tree and you won’t have to buy it at the store anymore!

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Pixabay - MichaelGaida Source: Pixabay - MichaelGaida

7. Vinca Minor Vines

This foliage is so beautiful it can stand on its own or be the perfect compliment plant under trees. These short vines spread creating an excellent ground cover. During the springtime, it also blooms a tiny light blue flower as well.

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Pixabay - domeckopol Source: Pixabay - domeckopol

8. English Ivy

This ivy is a crowd favorite perennial. It’s ideal because of its dainty appearance. English Ivy is a great plant as it can easily populate over larger areas in comparison to other plants. Planting this under a tree will eventually grow ivy all around the base and can even continue to grow up the trunk of the tree. It’s breathtaking!

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Unsplash - Rinck Content Studio Source: Unsplash - Rinck Content Studio

9. Ivory Prince

Ivory Prince is excellent low-spreading hellebore that can find a comfy home under your tree. Its evergreen foliage can really pop in these shaded areas. It can bloom anytime between early winter to mid-spring which can produce beautiful white flowers.

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Pixabay - mjimages Source: Pixabay - mjimages

10. White Trillium

This woodland wildflower is a great staple that is very popular with gardeners. These large white flowers bloom during early spring and turn into a beautiful shade of pink before returning to the ground by summer. White Trillium will find itself comfortable at home under a tree with good soil or in an open wooded area.

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Pixabay - Ladywriter 2017 Source: Pixabay - Ladywriter 2017

11. Golden Japanese Forest Grass

In most cases, you wouldn’t plant grass under your tree as it doesn’t do well in shade, but this is a special case. Also known as Hakone Grass, its beautiful arches and bright colored appearance make it a wonderful pop in your shade garden. It’s a great option if you’re looking for ground cover or as a border plant under your tree.

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Reddit - protocLOL Source: Reddit - protocLOL

12. Oakleaf Hydrangeas

Any hydrangea will grow strong and look beautiful under your trees, but this underrated hydrangea changes its appearance with the seasons. Commonly people usually think of its spring blossomed appearance of white flower clusters. Unlike some of the seasonal plants mentioned, this beauty stays around all year. By midsummer, Oakleaf Hydrangeas will mature into a deep shade of pink. By late fall its leaves will change into a beautiful deep maroon as the foliage sheds into the wintertime exposing its bare branches and exfoliating bark.

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Unsplash - Annie Spratt Source: Unsplash - Annie Spratt

Growing plants underneath trees can be difficult, but with the right plants and proper conditions, you can create an unforgettable shade garden. Hopefully, after reading this you’ll be inspired to add some of these shade-loving plants to make your landscape stand out. Happy gardening!

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Source: Do It Yourself, Bob Vila

Featured Image credit: Sue Manus

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