Messages posted to thread:

Nancy15-Jan-03 06:50 PM EST 5   
Susan15-Jan-03 08:52 PM EST 6a   
Nancy16-Jan-03 06:09 PM EST 5   
Susan17-Jan-03 07:32 AM EST 6a   
JoanneS23-Jan-03 01:14 PM EST 3a   
Nancy24-Jan-03 03:25 PM EST 5   
Ed25-Jan-03 08:28 PM EST 5a   
Nancy26-Jan-03 10:42 PM EST 5   

Subject: Shrubs for under large spruces?
From: Nancy
Zone: 5
Date: 15-Jan-03 06:50 PM EST

I have a row of seven extremely large old Norwegian spruces along my western fence line. The lowest limbs on these giants are 10 to 15 feet from the ground. To block the view of the chain link fence and create an understory, I would like to plant shrubs against the fence. They will get some late afternoon sun only.

Any suggestions what might survive these conditions?

Subject: RE: Shrubs for under large spruces?
From: Susan
Zone: 6a
Date: 15-Jan-03 08:52 PM EST

Your best bet(and maybe only bet...) is Gray Dogwood (Cornus racemosa). It's about the only shrub I can think of that will take poor, dry soil and the shade under trees like that. It will grow to about 10 feet tall and wide so will act as a good screen for the fence and fill in the bare area under the trees. It has white flowers in late spring and white berries that the birds like. It is not particularly showy but they would make a pleasant background screen once they have a couple of years growth.

Subject: RE: Shrubs for under large spruces?
From: Nancy
Zone: 5
Date: 16-Jan-03 06:09 PM EST

Thanks, Susan!

I'll keep my eyes open for Grey Dogwood. There's a lot of Pagoda Dogwood in our area, but the site is much to dry for them to get established.

Subject: RE: Shrubs for under large spruces?
From: Susan
Zone: 6a
Date: 17-Jan-03 07:32 AM EST

Gray Dogwood is vastly different from Pagoda Dogwood. It does not have those showy white bracts that are so impressive on the Pagodas, nor does it have the layered look of the branches. It is more of a green mound with smaller white flowers and fruit later in the summer. It can take wet or dry conditions so is more adaptable than the Pagoda. Gray Dogwood will form a thicket as it suckers so is good for filling in blank spaces. For a picture, go to:

If you click on the little page symbol that says 'horticultural information' near the bottom left of that page under Description, you'll find a complete description of it and its growing conditions and habit. For a close up view of the flowers, go to:

For a view of the fruit, go to:

For its winter look, go to:

Subject: RE: Shrubs for under large spruces?
From: JoanneS (
Zone: 3a
Date: 23-Jan-03 01:14 PM EST

I'm in a much colder zone, so I'm not aware of any shrubs except what grows here. One of our local greenhouses was selling an ornamental flowering raspberry. It had pretty pink flowers, almost an inch across. I don't know much about it except that it would do well in poor, shady soil.

Also, what about some of the low-growing rhododendrons. Aren't some of those good for partial shade, and they would love the acid in the soil.

Subject: RE: Shrubs for under large spruces?
From: Nancy
Zone: 5
Date: 24-Jan-03 03:25 PM EST

Thanks Joanne,

I hadn't thought about purple-flowered raspberry! I have a small one in another spot, but hasn't grown very much.

The previous owners had planted Northern Lights azaleas under the trees. They didn't survive and I'm not sure if it was the lack of moisture or the strong west winds that did them in.

Subject: RE: Shrubs for under large spruces?
From: Ed
Zone: 5a
Date: 25-Jan-03 08:28 PM EST

Before going to the expense/ trouble of planting anything under " extremely large trees " of any kind, bear in mind that these will have extemely large spreading root systems that have established priority on available moisture / nutrients. So, depending on the spacing between the trees, you might well consider an alternative to plant materials as a solution to your problem.

Subject: RE: Shrubs for under large spruces?
From: Nancy
Zone: 5
Date: 26-Jan-03 10:42 PM EST

Point taken, Ed.

I'm encouraged somewhat by what's already growing between several of the trees.... a couple of small cedars and an elder. Will probably only plant a couple of things as an experiment to start with. If they go the way of the azaleas, I'll know to be looking at other options.

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