Messages posted to thread:

Tara06-Feb-02 02:06 PM EST 5a   
Susan06-Feb-02 04:05 PM EST 6a   

Subject: acid soil... options?
From: Tara
Zone: 5a
Date: 06-Feb-02 02:06 PM EST

I have a small flowerbed located under a group of pine trees. The site is partially shaded and fairly dry. As, well, the pine needles drop into the garden and acidify the soil. I'm at my wit's end trying to find plants that will grow in this bed. I have a healthy euonymous and a mature "August Moon" hosta, but everything else struggles along. "Northern Lights" azaleas have died due to winter exposure. Any suggestions for brightening up this spot?

Subject: RE: acid soil... options?
From: Susan
Zone: 6a
Date: 06-Feb-02 04:05 PM EST

There are tons of things that will grow there! The majority of my garden is located under mature white pines and there's no problem finding things to grow there. The first thing I'd recommend you do is to lay down some soaker hoses to make watering easier and more efficient. I have about 250 feet of them winding through an area about 40 feet wide and 25-30 feet deep. When I plant things, I plant them close to the hose so they are sure to get watered when the hose is on. Things that can tolerate the dryness will spread, while things that need more moisture will stay close to the hose. Here is a list of things I grow under there:


Japanese Pieris;

Creeping Mahonia (it's not a low ground cover; more of a sprawling shrub...) - Mahonia repens;


Brunnera macrophylla;

Solomon's Seal;

Wild ginger (groundcover);

Bunchberries (Cornus canadensis) - beautiful white flowers in spring and edible (but not particularly tasty) berries in late summer - a native ground cover;

Hellebores - any of them will grow well but particularly 'Stinking' Hellebore (doesn''t really stink....) 'Christmas Rose' has beautiful white flowers 'Lenten Rose' tends to be more pink/purple later in the spring;

Japanese Anemone or any of the anemones - they will spread but are nice because of late summer flowering;

Cransebills - most species of the geranium genus will grow, some more successfully than others;

violas of any sort;

Beacon Silver or White Nancy Lamium - groundcover - spreads fast but easy to rip out any that gets out of hand;

Sweet Woodruff - also a fast spreader and self-seeds - you need to be vigilant about keeping it in control or it'll take over;

Trilliums - look for nursery grown stock because wild-harvesting is a no-no;

Phlox divaricata (woodland phlox);

White Wood Aster (will self seed freely);

most of the small bulbs - Snowdrops do particulalarly well for me

There are certainly other things under my trees but that list should get you started... When the pine needles fall, I rake the majority of them around the rhodos and pieris which like a stronger acid soil. Most woodland plants need or tolerate acid conditions, so look for plants that are native to woodland conditions.

A good, inexpensive (~$20) book I refer to all the time is 'Made For the Shade' by Judy Glattstein. She's a US author but from the east coast so many of the things she recommends will grow for me. You're a zone cooler so some of the things she suggests wouldn't grow for you but it's still a book I'd recommend for you....

Good luck.

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