Perennials to Grow Under Pine Trees

Perennials to Grow Under Pine Trees

Being able to plant a garden underneath pine trees is very difficult to do if you are not familiar with the type of tree, soil conditions or the needs of specific plants. Pine needles falling into the soil beneath pine trees can drastically change the pH levels of soil, making this area uninhabitable for most plants. In addition to the pH levels, because pine trees are evergreens there is very little light that makes it through their needles to provide sunlight to the plants.

Try any of these perennials which are capable of growing under pine trees to determine what works best for your garden. Pick out the best plants for your yard and you can fill in the bare patch of soil that surrounds each and every pine tree trunk in your landscaping.

Creeping Wintergreen

Combat one evergreen with another and create a look that will add color all year round. Creeping wintergreen is a low growing ground cover that thrives in acidic soil and needs little light. Extra care is necessary in regular pruning and watering, both which will keep the evergreen looking its best and keep it contained to the part of your landscaping where you want it.

Creeping Wintergreen

Japanese Ferns

For a combination that is slightly exotic looking, try a variety of Japanese fern, which grow well in very moist and acidic soil that is found in natural wooded areas. The ferns have a very full, leafy appearance that really brightens up the space under a pine tree. Regularly water the soil where you plant ferns, which will be necessary because of the pine boughs tendency to prevent rainwater from reaching the soil.


Azaleas are a flowering option for low light, shady spots in the garden, and they are also capable of growing under pine trees. If you live in a northern climate, you may need to replant azaleas each year if you are unable to protect their roots from extreme frost during the winter months. These plants can be shaped and trimmed into a hedge that grows completely around the trunks of pine trees, perfect for manicured landscapes.



Columbine flowers are naturally found in dry, arid regions of land, many times under pine trees where the soil is slightly acidic. The columbine plant comes in a variety of colored blooms that come to life atop long, stalks and resembles a cluster of trumpets. These sturdy plants are able to put up with low light, high wind, rocky poor soil and dry soil, making them the perfect perennial flower for under pine trees.

Lily of the Valley

If you want a flower under the pine trees that will bloom early in the spring, try a variety of Lily of the Valley. Not every variety is suitable for every acidic level, so planting in this case requires you to find out exactly what the pH levels are under your tree. Once you have an idea, choose from among the varieties that will thrive.

Lily of the Valley

Happy gardening!


  1. massholemommy says

    I have the blackest thumb ever. I actually did try to plant some Azaleas underneath my pine trees out front and they died. I blame it on the lack of sunlight and not my black thumb, though 😉

  2. I have this same issue with planting things in shady pine tree areas. I find creeping plants do the best for us here.
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  3. ericabuteau says

    We just tore down a huge porch this past fall and built a smaller one. Guess what that means? Oh yes! A whole new space for a giant perennial garden. I'm incorporating some of these!
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  4. I was always under the impression that nothing would grow under a pine tree. Thanks for clearing this up for me…. I might just try it this year.
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  5. I love azaleas. We have a line of pine trees alongside the border of our property. I should plant some azaleas there.
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  6. My father is great at growing gardens, but I don't think I got his green thumb. We use to have pine trees at our house when I was young and someone came along and actually cut one down and stole it to use as a Christmas tree during December.
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  7. becca112971 says

    Wow pretty flowers. My yard has nothing but pine trees so this was very helpful for working in our yard.

  8. toughcookiemommy says

    I love learning about how gardens grow and seeing photos of nature. These pics are beautiful and contain vivid colors.
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  9. casavilorainteriors says

    I love all your beautiful pictures. these are great ideas for the garden

  10. Nicole Brady says

    I love Azaleas but don't think they grow in this area. I've wanted to plant columbine but my mom (a master gardener) keeps telling me they take over the yard if not well cared for. (She knows me so well! LOL)
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    • Plant wild Columbine. They will spread but wont take over. They have airy pretty clover like foliage. I like the wild ones better than the names ones anyways. Try planting touch me nots or jeweled. They will spread as well but are easy to contain someplace. The leaves are said to be a poultice or tea for itchy skin and poison ivy. Kids will love to touch the little beans and watch a spray of pepper like seeds and an audible little pop sound

  11. Jennifer Williams says

    My favorite is Lilly of the Valley, we just moved to where pine trees are everywhere so I am learning how and what to plant now. Thanks for this, now I know what flowers to get.
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  12. kristentoneycampbell says

    Great ideas! I'm getting me some azaleas here soon – I LOVE those!
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  13. I would love to have some pretty plants like this. I am anxious to get planting.
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  14. I have a huge pine on the side of my house, and I love these ideas of making it more colorful this spring! If we could only get through all this snow, I would be thrilled to get out there and start planting!

  15. Most of these don't work for me in subtropical Miami. They look really pretty though!
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  16. Such a great post – I didn't realize you could grow much under pine trees because of the acidity of the needles.
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  17. Growing up, Lily of the Valley was one of my favorite flowers. My parents owned a big house on a lot of land ( they just recently sold after over 50 years of living there) and the flowers and pines were magnificent.
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  18. Lily of the Valley is so pretty! I never knew that they were called 😀
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  19. All the pictures are amazing! I love learning about gardening, so when I become a homeowner I know the ins and outs. Thanks for sharing!

  20. LOVE the lillies! I wish I could grow things that stayed alive!

  21. Thoughts from Her says

    I love the look of the Lily of the Valley. I'm such a newbie at gardening – and can't seem to keep anything alive for more than a season. 🙁

  22. amanda ripsam says

    I live in a two bedroom apartment. I tried to grow flowers in pots on my deck and I ended up with centipedes. Oh it was a pain in the butt to get rid of. I don't think I want to plant again.

  23. I have had great luck with ferns, hostas lily of the valley, cocheura (so) like coral bells, and for some reason irises like the edges under our tree. I like the ground cover you shared, I will have to look for that.

  24. I love on Minnesota. And want to plan a garden under pine trees in shade. Perennials I'd prefer. Want according to height low to high 5" to 2 ft. Can I do thislan? It's shaded area morning light only.

  25. (annuals and perennials): Impatiens, wallerana, trillium, lungwort, hellebores, Virginia bluebells, rhododendron, azalea, hydrangea, cardinal flower, hosta, Jacob’s ladder, Canadian ginger, saxifraga, heuchera, hepatica, ferns, barren strawberry, big-root geranium, lily-of-the-valley, bishop’s hat, dead nettle and sweet woodruff. Look for shade-loving plants that prefer acidic soil. You might also consider pot-scaping with container plants or creating raised beds around the trees to avoid having to disturb any tree roots.

  26. Pamela Potts says

    We cut down a huge pine tree one year ago. What can we plant in the same area this year? The ground has been fallow for about 12 months? We live in Utah…..Thank you!

  27. Laureen C Viets says

    I live in Colo Rocky Mtns where dry and windy prevails. With a bit of codling, I can get pines established for spotty windbreaks, but not much else survives without a lot of fuss. Daffodils can do well, along with other hardy bulbs; convolularia needs a lot of help, and columbine is a desirable possibility. The thing about planting pines et al in a dry climate is that most of the plants should be able to adapt to xerophilic conditions. At almost 80 yo, I am not up for much fuss, so they can’t get much help from me. These challenges make great cases for research.

  28. Brian ferguson says

    I have one spot under my pine tree where sweet wood duff will not grow. I planted 20 plants, all are growing well except one. I replaced it when it failed with another sweet woodruff. The replacement plant is also failing. What can I do to that area to insure grow?

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