Skip to Content

Landscaping Under Pine Trees – 15 Plants That’ll Thrive!

What do you think of when you hear the word “landscaping”? Pretty flowers, green lawns, and tidy bushes probably come to mind. But what if you have a pine tree in your yard? Does that mean landscaping is out of the question? Is landscaping under pine trees even possible? Yes! In fact, many plants will thrive under pine trees. Growing plants under pine trees is easy with the right plants.

So if you’re looking to add some color and life to your landscape, read on for 15 plants that’ll thrive under pine trees.

What Do You Do With Areas Under Pine Trees

Landscape design of garden in home backyard, landscaping with pine, fir trees and flowers in summer. Landscaping under pine trees.

One of the most difficult challenges in landscaping is dealing with the area under pine trees. There are a few factors that make this area tricky to work with.

  1. First, pine trees have shallow roots that spread out wide. This makes it difficult to plant other things in the same area without damaging the roots.
  2. Second, the needles of pine trees can make the soil acidic, which makes it difficult for other plants to thrive.
  3. And finally, the shade created by pine trees can make it difficult for other plants to get the sunlight they need to grow. As a result, it can be very challenging to find plants that will thrive in the area under a pine tree. Sometimes, it may be best to use rocks or other non-plant decorations instead.

The good news, though, is that you aren’t solely limited to non-plant decorations in your landscape. Whether you’re interested in planting a shrub, foliage plant, or even flowers, there are all kinds of plants that can be used in a pine-covered landscape.

Let’s take a closer look at this selection of plants.

What Grows Well Under a Pine Tree?

While the growth conditions under a pine tree aren’t always easy to deal with, limiting the light and nutrients that your plants have to work with, the good news is that there are plenty of plants native to North America that are a great choice for this shady environment.

Let’s dive into our list of plants!

1. Bleeding Hearts

Bleeding hearts can thrive under pine trees
Lamprocapnos spectabilis – Bleeding Heart

These delicate plants can actually thrive in the shade of evergreens, provided they are given the proper care. Bleeding hearts typically grow to be about 18 inches tall and have heart-shaped flowers that range in color from white to pink.

When watering, be sure to avoid getting the leaves wet, as this can lead to fungal diseases. In the spring, apply a layer of mulch around the plants to help retain moisture and control weeds. This is one of the best when you’re growing plants under pine trees.

2. Hydrangeas

blue hydrangeas, or hortensia, growing under pine trees surrounded by rocks

Many gardeners love hydrangeas for their beautiful blooms and lush green foliage. However, they can be tricky to grow, and it’s important to choose the right location. One common question is whether hydrangeas can be planted under pine trees.

While these trees do tend to monopolize water and nutrients, there is room for both plants if you take a few precautions.

  1. First, choose a drought-tolerant hydrangea variety.
  2. Create a well-drained planting bed by adding organic matter such as compost or peat moss.
  3. Water regularly during the first growing season to help the roots establish themselves.

With a little care, you can enjoy a carpet of beautiful blooms beneath your pine trees.

Endless Summer Bloomstruck Hydrangea Shrub [1 Gal.]
$29.99 $23.17

A great feature of BloomStruck and this collection is the ability to change the blooms’ color to your liking. Depending on soil pH, you can have vivid rose-pink or purple hydrangea flower heads. If your soil’s pH does not produce the hydrangea colors you prefer, try the Endless Summer Color Kits to change your acidity level and, in turn, change your bloom color!

BloomStruck also has incredibly beautiful red-purple stems, dark green leaves with red petioles, and red veins, which give great contrast to your other garden shrubs, perennials, and annuals.

Because of BloomStruck’s extremely strong stems, above average heat tolerance and great disease resistance – especially to powdery mildew – it is a perfect combination of beauty and hardiness for your garden!

Get It on Amazon
We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/09/2023 08:02 am GMT

3. Azaleas

Azalea bushes in a pine forest

While azaleas are typically known for their vibrant blooms, these plants can also make an excellent addition to a landscape because of their ability to provide year-round interest. An evergreen shrub, azaleas are available in a variety of colors, including pink, purple, white, and red.

This type of plant typically grows to be about two feet tall (although they can grow much larger!) and prefers full or partial sun.

Azaleas are relatively easy to care for and only need to be watered about once a week during the spring and summer months. With their striking flowers and lush foliage, azaleas can add beauty and dimension to any garden.

And while they are often planted in beds or along foundation plantings, azaleas can also thrive when planted under pine trees.

Due to their small size, azaleas can easily be dwarfed by larger plants. By planting them under pine trees, azaleas can receive the filtered sunlight they need to flourish without being overshadowed by taller plants. Azaleas also prefer acidic soil, which is typically found beneath pine trees.

Encore Azalea Autumn Embers (1 Gallon)
$15.36

The Encore Azalea Autumn Embers produces beautiful orange-red flowers in spring, summer, and fall. Autumn Embers is a dwarf Encore Azalea so it will keep a controlled mature size of 3 ft tall by 3 ½ ft wide.

These repeat bloomers a great for making a colorful statement in the landscape! Also, Embers is one of the best cold hardy Azaleas around with the ability to thrive in USDA zone 6B.

Get It on Amazon
We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/09/2023 01:06 am GMT

4. Creeping Phlox

White and purple creeping phlox cascading over an old stone wall in the Spring

Creeping phlox is a ground-covering plant that is often used in rock gardens and as border edging. It grows best in USDA hardiness zones 4 through 8. Pine trees are also well suited to these zones.

Although creeping phlox is tolerant of most conditions, it does best in soils that are moist but well-drained. Additionally, the plant prefers full sun but will also do well in partial shade.

5. Astilbe

Hydrangea flowers varieties pink and blue. Pink Astilbe.
Hydrangeas and Astilbe make a showy display under pine trees!

Astilbes are a popular type of flowering plant, known for their showy clusters of white flowers or other colored flowers.

Many gardeners enjoy planting astilbes in their gardens, but they can also be a great addition to any landscape. One question that gardeners often have is whether or not astilbes can be planted under pine trees.

The answer is yes!

Pine needles, while acidic, will not harm astilbes. In fact, the needles can actually help to retain moisture in the soil and provide some protection from the sun. Pine needles also help to mulch the soil, which can improve growing conditions for astilbes. Astilbe is a great choice when you’re growing plants under pine trees.

Astilbe Chinensis 'Visions'
$12.23

This plant grows best in USDA zones 3 to 8. It grows 15-24" tall and up to 30" wide. This gorgeous flowering Astilbe has broad leaves with deep cuts and incredibly vibrant purple flowers that bloom right through summer!

It's suitable for any position or container in part to full shade.

Buy on Amazon
We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/08/2023 06:17 pm GMT

6. Daffodils

While daffodils are typically associated with sunny spring days, these cheerful flowers can actually be quite versatile. In fact, they are perfect for landscaping under pine trees.

Daffodils are surprisingly tolerant of acidic soil. They also tend to be quite resilient, meaning they can handle a bit of crowding from tree roots.

50 Yellow Daffodil Bulbs for Planting - Dutch Master Value Bag
$28.99 $26.49 ($0.53 / Count)

Those gorgeous, traditional, yellow Daffodils are stunning with their large yellow trumpet-shaped flowers. Plant these bulbs in pots, borders, containers, garden beds, or anywhere else for a pop of color!

Daffodils are easy to grow - simply plant your bulbs in the fall (Sep to Dec) and they'll bloom beautifully in the spring. The best planting depth is around 4" deep, with a spacing of 4".

Get More Info
We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/08/2023 06:22 pm GMT

7. Gardenia

Gardenia flower (Gardenia jasminoides) with the pine tree

Gardenias are popular ornamental plants that are known for their intensely fragrant flowers. Though they are typically associated with warmer climates, gardenias can actually be grown in a wide variety of conditions.

This includes areas that are shaded by pine trees. Pine trees tend to have shallow root systems, which means they won’t compete with gardenias for moisture and nutrients. Additionally, pine trees can help to protect gardenias from wind damage.

Perfect Plants Frost Proof Gardenia Live Plant

Live 1-gallon frost-proof gardenia comes with easy-to-use plant food and features deep green, spindle leaves with fragrant, white flowers appearing every spring-summer

This gardenia shrub features a pleasant aroma during the blooming season — refreshing and inviting, The frost-proof gardenia offers an intoxicating scent to your home landscape or garden

Loves the sun and would prefer a spot in the landscape that receives full sun exposure and partial shade throughout the day — perfect for planting in mulch beds along the front entryway, next to mailboxes or benches, or in fragrant gardens!

Buy on Amazon
We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

8. Sweet Woodruff

Sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum) is a perennial herb with white, star-shaped flowers. This gorgeous plant blooms in spring. It is often used as a ground cover or as an ingredient in potpourri. Sweet woodruff does best in moist, shady conditions and can be difficult to grow in full sun.

9. Dwarf Crested Iris

Dwarf crested iris (Iris cristata) is a beautiful, low-growing plant that produces purple, white, or blue flowers in early spring. It is a member of the Iris family and is native to the southeastern United States.

This plant is very easy to grow and does well in both sun and shade. It can even tolerate some drought once it is established. Since dwarf crested iris only grows to be about 6 inches tall, it makes an excellent ground cover for shady areas.

5 Dwarf Crested Iris (Iris Cristata) - Native Woodland Wildflower
$34.58
Get More Info
We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/09/2023 01:48 am GMT

10. Lady Fern

Athyrium filix-femina, lady fern

Lady ferns are a beautiful addition to any garden, their lacey fronds adding a touch of elegance to shady areas. But can you plant them under pine trees?

While most ferns prefer moist, well-drained soil, lady ferns are surprisingly tolerant of drier conditions. This makes them an ideal choice for planting under pine trees, which tend to favor shallow, sandy soils. Lady ferns will also do well in dappled sunlight or partial shade, making them ideal for growing beneath the canopy of pine trees.

Lady in Red Hardy Fern (Athyrium filix-femina) - Quart Pot
$9.99

This is a stunning variety of Lady Fern! This fantastic native fern with lacy, mint-green foliage and bright red stems was developed by a volunteer at the New England Wildflower Society. This fern slowly spreads to around 3' in about 5 years and it's easy to grow.

Get More Info
We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/08/2023 06:27 pm GMT

11. Columbine

Columbines found in the mountains of Colorado

Columbine is a shade-loving plant that can often be found growing beneath trees. The dappled light and moist soil beneath pine trees provide the perfect conditions for Columbine to thrive. In addition, the needles of pine trees help to acidify the soil, which Columbine also prefers.

While Columbine will grow in full sun, it is likely to become leggy and produce fewer flowers. For this reason, it is best to grow Columbine under pine trees or other sources of dappled light.

12. Wild Geranium

Wild geranium is in the Geraniaceae (Geranium) family.

Wild geraniums are a type of perennial flower that grow in wooded areas. They have large, showy flowers that bloom in the spring and summer. Wild geraniums are easy to grow and require very little care.

Many gardeners like to plant them under pine trees because they do not need a lot of sunlight. Pine trees provide the perfect amount of shade for wild geraniums. The moist soil beneath pine trees is also cool, which is ideal for these flowers. In addition, pine needles help to protect the ground from weeds and pests.

13. Hosta Plant

These perennial plants, also known as plantain lilies, are versatile and resilient. Their foliage can add a splash of color to any garden. While they typically prefer shady areas, they can also tolerate partial sun. This makes them a popular choice for gardeners who want to add some color to a shady spot in their yard. They’re perfect for landscaping under pine trees.

Hosta Mixed Bare Root Plants - 9 Pack
$22.99 $19.49 ($2.17 / Count)

Hostas are the perfect foliage filler for those tough spots in the garden! They're ultra-versatile and provide a pop of color and texture.

Heart-shaped, colorful foliage spreads up to 60" wide. The flowers last for two weeks in mid-summer, and they're slightly fragrant as an additional benefit. Suitable for zones 3 to 8.

Get More Info
We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/08/2023 06:27 pm GMT

14. Strawberries

Picking ripe strawberries in a pine forest on a clear summer day
Picking ripe strawberries in a pine forest!

While many gardeners prefer to plant their strawberries in full sun, these versatile little fruits can also do quite well in partial shade. In fact, planting strawberries under pine trees can provide several benefits.

For one thing, the needles of the pine tree will help to discourage weed growth. In addition, the pine tree will provide some protection from strong winds and harsh sun. Finally, the Pine tree will help to maintain a slightly cooler temperature around the strawberry plants, which can be helpful during hot summer days.

15. Lily of the Valley (Convallaria)

Lily of the valley convallaria

Lily of the valley is a beautiful, fragrant plant that is often used in bouquets and other floral arrangements. While it can be tricky to grow, lily of the valley can thrive in a variety of conditions. This includes shady areas, like when you’re landscaping under pine trees.

In fact, planting lily of the valley under pine trees can provide a number of benefits. The pine needles will help to improve drainage and aeration around the lily of the valley plants, and the shade from the trees will protect the native plants from drying out in direct sunlight.

What Can You Not Plant Under Pine Trees?

If you’re trying to find plants that grow well beneath the dense shade of a pine tree, you can’t go wrong with most native plants that have deep roots and can tolerate moist types of soils.

When it comes to plants that you should avoid in your backyard pine forests, the worst ones include:

  • Zinnias
  • Roses
  • Cosmos
  • Zinnias
  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Cucumbers

…and more.

Will Bleeding Hearts Grow Under Pine Trees?

Yes, bleeding hearts will grow well under pine trees. They thrive in the shade of evergreen trees and shrubs. The layer of pine needle mulch helps retain moisture around your plants’ roots also.

Can I Plant Hydrangeas Under Pine Trees?

Hydrangeas grow well under pine trees. It’s best to choose a drought-tolerant Hydrangea variety, and be sure to mulch your plants well. Water regularly until it establishes itself. Once it has, it will provide a stunning display of flowers beneath your pine trees.

Can You Plant Azaleas Under Pine Trees?

Yes, Azaleas are a great plant to grow under pine trees. The pine tree needles tend to make the soil acidic, which is perfect for your Azalea plant. Water regularly until it’s well-established. After that, Azaleas are low-maintenance and their delightful flowers will brighten up the garden!

Final Thoughts

There you have it, 15 plants that are perfect for landscaping under pine trees. If your goal is to achieve a lush and thriving garden, don’t give up on hope just because you have pine trees in your yard.

With a little bit of research and trial and error, you can find the right plants that will thrive in spite of the pine needles. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your dream landscape today!

Keep reading!

Author

  • Rebekah Pierce

    Rebekah Pierce started a small farm with her husband in 2016 in upstate New York, near her native Adirondack Mountains. With a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in special education, she has been writing professionally since 2017, but only recently left the world of teaching to pursue writing and farming full time. She now writes full-time in the education, business, finance, and of course, homesteading and farming niches.

Sharing is Caring

Help spread the word. You're awesome for doing it!