Underplanting Trees With Flowering Plants And Shrubs

Plantain Lily

If you have a shady area in your yard, underplanting trees and shrubs is an excellent way to add beauty and texture.

The main focus of your yard should be a focal piece, like a large tree with brightly colored plants that should be planted near the outer edges of branches.

If you choose to underplant the trees in your yard make sure you follow the same color palette throughout your yard.

PLANTING UNDER TREES

Shade-tolerant perennials are good choices for shady areas because they grow year after year, and you can move them around when necessary.

Annuals can be used but you will need to collect the seed to have something to restart for the spring if you want the same flowers to grow back.

One nice thing about annuals is that you can change up the look year after year.

Underplanting around trees is best done with very young plants to avoid digging a large hole to accommodate their larger root systems.

Some trees, such as magnolias, maples, dogwoods, and beech have a shallow root system that doesn’t like being disturbed.

If underplanting around those types of trees then it is recommended to use a trowel or spade to avoid damaging any roots and giving you the opportunity to move any roots by hand.

Underplanting needs a strategy to create the look that you desire.

When shrubs and other plants are growing under a tree, this places added stress on the soil for water, nutrients, and reduced light for the plants and shrubs.

The area around the tree doesn’t need any extra soil, in fact, this may harm the tree because the surface roots pull oxygen from the air.

Covering the roots would suffocate the tree and would lead to its death.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT PLANTS AND SHRUBS TO GO UNDER YOUR TREES

Plants and shrubs that don’t require full sun are the best to choose because they have evolved to thrive in shaded areas.

Choosing plants that complement each other foliage color as well as a continuous outpouring of short live blooms throughout the design.

PLANTS

Some plants have adapted to thrive in the shade of a wooded forest and produce beautiful blooms in the spring and summer.

Most plants thrive in direct sunlight but they will also do just fine growing in the shade, but they will have fewer blooms than ones grown in direct sunlight.

AUTUMN FERN

Autumn Fern

Autumn ferns are native to China, Japan, and Taiwan where they grow as dwarf plants and don’t require pruning.

In the early spring, the fronds or leaves will die out to make room for new forms. The dead fronds can be removed without damaging the new growth at the center, known as the crown.

Too much sun exposure can cause the fronds to turn brown or discolored, and become shriveled.

This can happen in the time span of just a few hours.

  • Plant size – grows to about 2 feet tall and 2 feet wide
  • U.S.D.A hardiness zone – 4 through 9
  • Soil pH – 5.5 through 7.0
  • Drought tolerant – yes
  • Blooming Colors – purple blooms on a pillar and clustered together
  • Blooms attract – bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds
  • Foliage – immature leaves are a reddish copper color and turn green when they mature
  • Deer resistant – yes
  • Pests – aphids, scales, and mealybugs
  • Disease – bacteria blight, graying, foliar nematode, frond loving, pythium root rot, and rhizoctonia blight

PLANTAIN LILY

Plantain Lily

Plantain lily is native to Eastern Asia with over 4,000 other varieties.

  • Plant size – grows to about 3 feet tall and
  • U.S.D.A hardiness zone – 4 through 8
  • Soil pH – 6.5 through 7.5
  • Drought tolerant – yes
  • Blooming colors – light purple and white that bloom in mid-summer with star-like flowers
  • Blooms attract – butterflies and hummingbirds
  • Foliage – wide leaves with some having yellow in the center of the leaf, yellow on the edges, white on the edges, or completely green
  • Deer resistant – no
  • Pests – snail and otiorhynchus beetle
  • Disease – hosta virus x
  • Also known as – hosta plant

CORAL BELL TIRAMISU

Coral bell tiramisu is an evergreen that is native to North America with around 50 other species and is found in woodland areas as well as in mountainous areas.

  • Plant size – grows to about 8 inches tall and 1 foot wide
  • U.S.D.A hardiness zone – 4 through 9
  • Soil pH – 6.0 through 7.0
  • Drought tolerant – yes
  • Blooming colors – white blooms that appear in late spring to early summer
  • Blooms attract – butterflies and hummingbirds
  • Foliage – red or purple leaves that are bordered by green or completely green
  • Deer resistant – yes
  • Pests – weevils and foliar nematodes
  • Disease – powdery mildew, rust, leaf spot

ANGEL WING BEGONIA

Angel wing begonia is an annual that is native to Brazil.

  • Plant size – grows to about 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide
  • U.S.D.A hardiness zone – 10 and 11
  • Soil pH – 5.4 through 6.0
  • Drought tolerant – yes
  • Blooming colors – orange, red, pink, or white
  • Blooms attract – bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds
  • Foliage – streaked or speckled leaves that are green with a red tint
  • Deer resistant – yes
  • Pests – thrips and spider mites
  • Disease – powdery mildew, botrytis, leaf spot, and stem rot

RHEINLAND ASTILBE

Rheinland astilbe is native to North America and Asia where they grow in wooded areas.

There are 18 different species of astilbes with some hybrid varieties.

  • Plant size – grows to about 2 feet tall and 2 feet wide
  • U.S.D.A hardiness zone – 3 through 9
  • Soil pH – 6.0
  • Drought tolerant – no
  • Blooming colors – purple, pink, red, and white with 2 foot tall flower spikes that appear in spring and last into the summer with feathery-like blooms
  • Blooms attract – bees, butterflies, and moths
  • Foliage – thin long green leaves
  • Deer resistant – yes
  • Pests – Japanese beetle, whiteflies, and root-knot nematodes
  • Disease – powdery mildew, leaf spot, and leaf scorch

WHITE TRILLIUM

Trillium

White trillium is native to North America where it grows as a woodland flower.

  • Plant size – grows to about 2 feet tall and 1 foot wide
  • U.S.D.A hardiness zone – 4 through 9
  • Soil pH – 6.0 through 7.5
  • Drought tolerant – yes
  • Blooming colors – white blooms that appear in spring with large three petals blooms
  • Blooms attract – bees
  • Foliage – large oval-shaped green leaf
  • Deer resistant – yes
  • Pests – slugs and snails
  • Disease – rust, leaf spot, and smut

SHRUBS

A tree that is in the center of low to medium-growing perennial shrubs that are full of blooms and with other flowering plants in front of them is a good way to attract the many pollinators as possible.

There are many different flowering shrubs that can thrive and produce impressive spring and summer blooms.

NEW GUINEA IMPATIENS

New Guinea impatiens are native to Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

  • Shrub size – grows to about 1 and a half feet tall and 9 inches wide
  • Pruning – requires mid-summer pruning to encourage more blooms
  • U.S.D.A hardiness zone – 10 through 12
  • Soil pH – 6.0 through 6.5
  • Drought tolerant – no
  • Blooming colors – orange, red, purple, and pink
  • Blooms attract –
  • Foliage –
  • Deer resistant – yes
  • Pests – aphids, thrips, spider mites, and mealybugs
  • Disease – alternaria leaf spot, botrytis blight, bacterial fascination, damping off, powdery mildew, pythium root rot, thielaviopsis root rot, verticillium wilt

OAKLEAF HYDRANGEA

Oakleaf Hydrangea

Oakleaf hydrangea is native to the Southeast United States where it grows as a woodland shrub.

  • Shrub size – grows to about 8 feet tall and 8 feet wide
  • Pruning – remove any dead branches in spring after it has leaves
  • U.S.D.A hardiness zone – 5 through 9
  • Soil pH – 5.0 through 6.5
  • Drought tolerant – yes
  • Blooming colors – white blooms that age into red or pink blooms that appear in spring and early summer with a closer of blooms
  • Blooms attract – bees and butterflies
  • Foliage – oak leaf-shaped leaves
  • Deer resistant – no
  • Pests – aphids and mites
  • Disease – botrytis blight, powdery mildew, and armillaria root rot

JELENA WITCH HAZEL

Jelena witch hazel is a hybrid of the Japanese and China witch hazel plants.

  • Shrub size – grows to about 20 feet tall and 15 feet wide
  • U.S.D.A hardiness zone – 3 through 9
  • Pruning – during spring to ensure the buds for the following year will develop and stems around the base of the shrub
  • Soil pH – 6.0 through 6.5
  • Drought tolerant – yes
  • Blooming colors – orange blooms that appear
  • Blooms attract – bees and butterflies
  • Foliage – broad green leaves
  • Deer resistant – yes
  • Pests – aphids, caterpillars. Japanese beetles, weevils, and scale
  • Disease – powdery mildew and leaf spot

TREE PEONY

Tree peony is native to China.

  • Shrub size – grows to about 8 feet tall and 6 feet wide depending on the variety
  • U.S.D.A hardiness zone – 4 through 9
  • Pruning – during winter or early spring before any new growth appears to not injure the shrub
  • Soil pH – 6.5 through 7.0
  • Drought tolerant – yes
  • Blooming colors – large deep purple blooms that appear in spring and last for about two weeks with ruffled rose-like blooms
  • Blooms attract – bees
  • Foliage – long green leaves
  • Deer resistant – yes
  • Pests – scale, thrips, and nematodes
  • Disease – botrytis blight, leaf spot, phytophthora blight, leaf blotch, root rot, verticillium wilt, and powdery mildew

VIBURNUM

Viburnum

Viburnum is native to the America’s, Europe, the Atlas Mountains in Africa, and North Asia with about 175 species.

  • Shrub size – grows to about 20 feet tall and 10 feet wide depending on the variety
  • U.S.D.A hardiness zone – 2 through 9
  • Pruning – heavy pruning should be done in the winter, but light pruning can be done to keep the shape of the shrub
  • Soil pH – 5.5 through 8.0
  • Drought tolerant – not all varieties
  • Blooming colors – white blooms that appear in spring with a large cluster of blooms
  • Blooms attract – bees and butterflies
  • Foliage – broad green leaves
  • Deer resistant – yes
  • Pests – aphids, caterpillars. Japanese beetles, weevils, and scale
  • Disease – powdery mildew and leaf spot

ADDING THE FINISHING TOUCHES

After deciding what will be planted the next step will be deciding what color mulch to use.

The next addition is the use of edging around your creation to keep the mulch in place and it adds a nice look to the whole project.

Bricks or rocks will look the best but will also cost the most. Other options are metal and plastic, but the metal will need to be painted and don’t look as good.

Then there is the plastic which will deteriorate at some point and will need to be replaced.

Adding decorative touches to any garden can be as simple as adding hummingbird feeders. They are available as decorative glass containers that come in varying colors and shapes.