Plants That Will Grow Underneath Almost Any Tree

Plants That Will Grow Underneath Almost Any Tree

Hostas come in an amazing array of sizes from teeny to 8-feet across! Generally, hostas develop their best color with a dose of morning sun, but most types will do fine in shade (especially in warmer climates). Their attractive foliage, which comes in shades of green, blue-green and greens with white or yellow accents, is a nice splash of color under trees. But if deer are a problem on your property, think twice about planting hostas—which they will nibble to the ground.

These pretty perennials with ruffled leaves, also called coral bells, span the rainbow from silver to hot pink to lime green to chocolate brown. They have wispy flowers in spring but the foliage is the real show-stopper. Be patient; it often takes them a few years to really show off their stuff.

Flashy heart-shaped leaves with silver speckles make brunnera an eye-catching, less common perennial to plant under trees. In spring, it has tiny, frothy blue flowers. It’s also very cold-hardy.

Lenten Rose
Also called hellebore, this perennial offers exquisite blooms in late winter to early spring, depending on where you live. Its waxy leaves remain throughout the summer. Give it plenty of moisture to get established, then it’s quite drought-tolerant.

This perennial groundcover has pretty silvery and green leaves and hot pink, pale pink, purple, yellow or white flowers in late spring. Some varieties have golden leaves. Lamium also goes by the somewhat unglamorous name of dead nettle! But it’s a reliable plant in dry shade once established and spreads well.

This evergreen groundcover is fast-growing and does well under trees and on slopes, too. The arching green foliage is accented by small spikes of purple flowers, which appear in late summer.

This old standby groundcover is a favorite for a reason: It’s nearly indestructible. Its glossy evergreen foliage establishes well even under mature trees, and deer don’t like it. Tiny white flowers appear in spring.

While you may think of a neatly sheared hedge when it comes to boxwoods, new varieties grow faster, keep their shape without pruning, and don’t mind some shade. Some varieties top out at 2 to 4 feet tall and wide.

Ajuga, sometimes called bugle weed, really does grow like a weed! It quickly forms a dense mat of foliage that chokes out weeds. The foliage ranges from chartreuse to burgundy, with cobalt blue flowers in spring to summer.

Abelia will tolerate sun or shade, so it’s a nice option under large trees. Its foliage ranges from golden to green, and the sweetly scented tubular flowers, which pollinators love, appear from summer to fall. It’s a lovely shrub for any garden setting.

This native shrub has sweetly scented white flowers that attract pollinators in the spring. It also offers great fall color and doesn’t get huge and gangly, so it’s a nice choice under trees. Newer varieties are more cold-tolerant.

Beautiful scented foliage and bright pink, blush pink, or purple flowers make this super-tough plant an excellent choice under trees. Also called perennial geranium, cranesbill makes a great deer and bunny-resistant groundcover, spreading quickly. Trust us: You need this lovely but underutilized perennial!

This perennial is used infrequently in gardens, but it deserves to be a lot more popular! It’s also called foamflower due to its frothy upright spikes of flowers. It blooms mid to late spring.

Many different types of ferns look smashing under trees! Their feathery fronds add nice textural interest, and they’re available in many different colors including copper, deep green, and silvery with burgundy accents.

A cross of heuchera and tiarella, this charming perennial has gorgeous leaf color with striking, prominent veins and pretty flower spikes in late spring to mid-summer. Butterflies and hummingbirds love it!


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