17 Best Plants That Grow Under Pine Trees

Known for its excellent cone shape, a pine tree is simply a great addition to any garden or landscaping.

It’s a great friend of the winter as it stays evergreen during that same season.

However, many people believe that they can’t grow grass, and most ground cover plants under a pine tree.

This could be true because pine trees can make your garden soil acidic.

However, it’s still not entirely true, as plants can still thrive under a pine tree.

So, what are the best plants that grow under pine trees well?

These 17 plants are ideal for planting under a pine tree.

Who says you can’t make your garden colorful and full of different plants when you have a pine tree?

I’ll let you know 17 of the best plants you can grow under a pine tree in this post.

You’ll be happy to know that some of these are flowering plants.

Planting Under A Pine Tree

Generally, the plants you should choose for planting under a pine tree should be shade-loving and love acidic soil.

Pine trees can grow tall, and plants that you’ll grow under this will mostly get partial light exposure.

The soil underneath your pine tree is slightly acidic, and let me tell you why.

Pine Tree’s Soil Acidity

Pine Tree’s Soil AcidityPin

And so it’s true that you can’t grow some plants under a pine tree no matter how hard you try.

What you really should know is that the pH level of the soil where your pine tree stands can be acidic.

People would blame the acidic pine needles that fall off under a pine tree for this.

A pine needle is known to have a pH level of 3.5 as it falls to the ground.

Multiple needles can make your soil slightly acidic.

It’s not all bad when the soil is acidic.

Pine trees grow better in acidic soils or with a pH level of more than 7.0 (neutral).

How To Neutralize Pine Needle Acid In Soil

When soil is acidic, there are only certain plants that you can grow on it.

A quick fix is to neutralize the soil, but balancing your soil is not the best solution since your pine tree will constantly shed pine needles.

Picking out plants that love acidic soil underneath pine trees is your best option.

There are different plants out there that love acidic soil.

You can get a specific perennial, evergreen, or plant that is good as a ground cover for this.

You don’t have to look further as I’ll let you know what they are.

Now, even if the plants on this list are ones you’ve never heard of before, I’ll also share with you the essential things you should know about them.

17 Best Plants That Grow Under Pine Trees

Whether you already have a pine tree to work with or are simply planning to have one, here is the list of 17 plants that can grow well under pine trees.

Perennial Plants That Can Grow Under A Pine Tree

Perennial flowers and plants are simply plants that can live up to two years and more.

However, some books would say that perennials are the ones that live for more than three years.

Perennials are considered long-living plants, while annual plants only live a year.

These two names help you differentiate which plants are long-living and not.

If you want to grow perennials under your pine tree, here are a few of them that you can get.

1. Hostas

  • Origin: Native to Far East Russia and North East Asian countries like China, Korea, and Japan
  • USDA Zone Hardiness: Zones 3 to 9
  • Watering Need: Water regularly until winter and soak in an inch of water once a week.
  • Maximum Growth Size: 2 to 3 feet
  • Possible Problems: This plant loves water, so it can easily suffer from drought stress.

This plant has around 3000 varieties, with approximately 50 that are in the US.

Most of its types love acidic soil and partial sun.

Some of them are Halycon Hosta, Royal Standard Hosta, Elegans Hosta, Stained Glass Hosta, and Variegated Hosta Mix.

All species of the Hosta plant are generally green to deep green.

While they may differ in leaf shape and size, most of their varieties have heart-shaped leaves.

Most of its varieties can bear bell-shaped flowers during summer.

It’s common for Hostas to be attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies as their flowers are pretty fragrant.

This is simply great as a decorative flower.

2. Lily Of The Valley

  • Origin: Native to Eurasia and East Northern America
  • USDA Zone Hardiness: Zones 3 to 9
  • Watering Need: Only water if the top 2 inches of its soil is already dry. Avoid watering its leaves and moisten its soil for only 8 to 12 inches deep. It’s best to water this during the morning hours.
  • Maximum Growth Size: 8 inches tall
  • Possible Problems: Its foliage can easily die when either over or underwatered. This plant is also toxic or poisonous.

The Lily of the Valley is a flowering plant that is known for its sweet scent.

Fun fact, many perfumes are named after this plant.

This is a favorite choice for gardeners who want plants that can grow under the shade of any tree.

Usually, this plant is only seen with two long glossy leaves that grow from its base.

Its flowers and bell-shaped and grow in a cluster on one side of its stalk.

This plant typically blooms during winter.

Aside from that, it can also bear small orange-red berries.

3. Wild Geraniums

  • Origin: Native to Eastern North America
  • USDA Zone Hardiness: Zones 3 to 8
  • Watering Need: Wild Geraniums need to be watered regularly, especially when its soil is already dry.
  • Maximum Growth Size: 18 to 24 inches tall and 12 to 18 inches wide
  • Possible Problems: Susceptible to fungal problems and root rot, which can cause its leaves to turn black.

Wild Geraniums are non-invasive perennial plants, also known as Geranium maculatum.

It has lobed basal leaves and flowers that are usually rose pink or lavender in color.

Its foliage is green and could spread up to 18 inches wide.

This plant only blooms during late spring to early summer and would only do so for around a month. It’s generally easy to cultivate this plant.

This can be propagated by the division of its rhizomes or from its seeds.

It also doesn’t require thorough maintenance, so this is an excellent plant for beginners.

4. Jacob’s Ladder

  • Origin: Native to Eastern North America
  • USDA Zone Hardiness: Zones 3 to 8
  • Watering Need: Water regularly and thoroughly as this plant can’t deal well with drought.
  • Maximum Growth Size: 12 to 14 inches tall and 12 to 15 inches wide
  • Possible Problems: Generally, this plant is problem-free. However, pests and diseases can still take advantage of its growth, especially when it is stressed due to poor light exposure and lack of watering.

The Jacob’s Ladder Plant is known for its foliage with dense leaf stems that carry small leaves.

These resemble the stem in the Biblical dream of Jacob, hence its name.

It can also bear bell-shaped flowers and is usually colored in white, pink, yellow, or blue.

It’s perfect for a low-maintenance garden as it doesn’t require thorough care.

This plant can be leggy and will need trimming after blossoming, and that’s about it.

It’s a plant that loves shady places as it can quickly get heat stress.

5. Sweet Woodruff

  • Origin: Native to Europe, North Africa, and Western Asia
  • USDA Zone Hardiness: Zones 4 to 8
  • Watering Needs: Water regularly and keep its soil moist.
  • Maximum Growth Size: Can grow up to 6 to 12 inches tall and can spread up to 9 to 18 inches wide
  • Possible Problems: As this plant ages, its leaves and stem wither and collapse.  It is also susceptible to fungal diseases and mildews.

The Sweet Woodruff is a helpful plant. Some would use this as a stuffing material for mattresses. 

It’s also a flavoring ingredient used for beers and wines.

Some people would even use this plant’s dry leaves for fragrance because of its scent.

It’s straightforward to grow as long as you keep its soil moist.

When it comes to its blossoms, they are colored white. 

These white flowers typically bloom from April to May. What’s good is that it’s deer-resistant and rabbit-proof.

6. Hydrangeas

  • Origin: Native to Southern and Eastern Asia and North and South America
  • USDA Zone Hardiness: Zones 3 to 9
  • Watering Needs: Water at least 3 times a week and keep its soil moist. It’s best to have this watered in the morning to keep it hydrated the whole day.
  • Maximum Growth Size:Depending on the variety, this plant can grow up to 20 feet tall.
  • Possible Problems: Some of the common problems you can encounter with this plant are leaf spot and fungal diseases.

The Hydrangeas have around 100 species. Generally, this plant has small flowers that grow at the end of its stems. 

These flowers bloom in summer and fall and are usually colored white, blue, red, purple, or pink.

The colors that this plant bloom depends on its variety and the pH level of its soil.

This plant has a better chance of blooming when grown in areas that give it partial shade.

This is why it’s one of the best plants you can grow under a pine tree.

Just make sure that you regularly water this plant as it doesn’t thrive in dry areas.

Shrubs That Grow Well Under A Pine Tree

Shrubs are small to medium-sized woody plants that are usually perennial.

I could have easily listed this under perennial plants. 

However, woody plants are different from what I’ve listed above.

I like the sight of shrubs under a pine tree as they appear like smaller round trees next to it.

Here are some shrubs that would grow nicely and would thrive under a pine tree:

7. Azaleas

  • Origin: Native to Japan
  • USDA Zone Hardiness: Zones 4 to 9
  • Watering Needs: Its soil needs to be moist but not soggy. Water every 10 to 14 days during warm or dry seasons.
  • Maximum Growth Size: This can grow up to 10 feet tall.
  • Possible Problems: Common problems with the azalea plant includes chlorosis, leaf spots, and pests like spider mites.

This is an excellent plant to place under a pine tree because strong winds can easily damage it.

It’s best planted where it is sheltered and partially shaded.

When you hear its name, you most likely think about its flowers first.

Its flowers can be such a standout in your garden.

They are usually colored pink, white, yellow, or purple, which is why it’s an excellent choice for flower arrangements.

Generally, it is not necessary to prune this plant, but you may do so if you want to keep it in a specific shape or size.

However, pruning is best done right after it blossoms.

8. Witch Alder

  • Origin: Native to South Eastern America
  • USDA Zone Hardiness: Zones 5 to 8
  • Watering Needs: Water 3 to 5 times a week, depending on the weather. Make sure you keep its soil moist.
  • Maximum Growth Size: Can grow up to 3 to 10 feet tall
  • Possible Problems: Can spread by root suckers if the suckers are not immediately removed

The Witch Alder is also known as Fothergilla major in some books.

It has blue-green foliage during the summer, but during fall, its leaves turn yellowish-orange and reddish-purple.

Its flowers generally look fluffy from afar.

The white flower it blooms typically appears during spring.

They look a lot like a baby bottle brush.

What’s nice is that they are fragrant and would smell great with your pine tree.

These flowers can easily attract butterflies and birds.

9. Rhododendrons

  • Origin: Native to Western and Eastern Mediterranean and East Asia
  • USDA Zone Hardiness: Zones 4 to 8
  • Watering Needs: Best watered in the morning, this plant needs an inch of water per week. Keep its soil moist when the weather is warm or hot.
  • Maximum Growth Size: This plant can grow as tall as 20 feet depending on its variety.
  • Possible Problems: Common problems that this plant has are leaf spots and root rot, which can be caused by fungal diseases.

Rhododendrons are easily confused with Azaleas.

This is because they are related and belong to the rhododendron genus. 

What sets a Rhododendron apart from an Azalea is its size.

Rhododendrons have larger leaves.

The flowers from Azaleas usually have five stamens, and Rhododendrons’ flowers have at least 10.

Generally, Rhododendrons love shady places like the underneath of a pine tree.

This is also one of the best flowering plants you can get for temperate landscaping.

Its leaves are leathery, while its flowers are white, red, purple, or pink.

Plants You Can Grow Under a Pine Tree that Work Great as Ground Covers

Ground covers are plants that grow just right above the ground.

This means that they are low-growing and are known to protect your topsoil.

Gardeners prefer having this than weeds to conceal bare soil and improve its appearance.

10. Creeping Phlox

  • Origin: Native to Eastern USA, North Carolina, and Quebec
  • USDA Zone Hardiness: Zones 3b to 10
  • Watering Needs: Water until the root zone is wet and wait until it’s completely dry before doing so again.
  • Maximum Growth Size: It can grow up to 6 inches in height and can spread up to 2 feet wide
  • Possible Problems: Some common problems with this plant are insects and fungal diseases. Powdery mildew can also be a problem with this.

The Creeping Phlox is known to have good ground covers because of its mats of foliage.

It’s simply attractive with its lavender and white flowers that typically blossom in spring and summer.

Fertilizing is not necessary for this plant as it’s pretty low-maintenance.

Its leaves are oval and are generally colored green.

This is simply a colorful addition to your garden and would look like a literal bed of flowers under your pine tree.

Generally, this plant is drought-tolerant, but watering is necessary, especially during the summer or a lack of rain.

11. Metallica Crispa

  • Origin: Native to Europe
  • USDA Zone Hardiness: Zones 3 to 9
  • Watering Needs: Water at least twice a week to keep its soil moist.
  • Maximum Growth Size: It could spread up to 24 inches wide
  • Possible Problems: This is overall pest-free. What you need to look out for is powdery mildew.

The Metallica Crispa is also known as the Ajuga pyramidalis and the Bugleweed. The colors of its leaves are bronze and purple. 

They look a bit metallic under the sun.

What makes this plant most attractive are the blue flowers it blooms during spring.

This is a long-living plant that is known to last up to 10 years.

This is a good choice if you want a plant that can attract butterflies. 

Since it can widely spread, maintenance is necessary if you need to keep it just underneath your Pine tree.

12. Creeping Wintergreen

Creeping WintergreenPin
  • Origin: Native to Eastern North America
  • USDA Zone Hardiness: Zones 3 to 7
  • Watering Needs: Water at least three times a week to make sure that you keep its soil moist.
  • Maximum Growth Size: Can grow up to 6 inches high and 36 inches wide
  • Possible Problems: This plant is susceptible to having mildew and leaf spots. However, this is generally disease-free.

The Creeping Wintergreen is mainly a forest plant with glossy green and minty foliage.

It’s generally safe, and even the fruit it bears is safe to consume.

These red berries are even used in candies, gums, and teas. It has a sweet flavor.

The Wintergreen grows slowly, but it can thrive well under the shade of a pine tree.

During the summer, it blooms bell-shaped flowers that are pink or pale red.

It’s not drought-tolerant, so make sure you don’t leave this plant in rough, dry soil.

13. Bearberry Plants

Bearberry PlantsPin
  • Origin: Native to Europe, Asia, and Northern America
  • USDA Zone Hardiness: Zones 4 to 8
  • Watering Needs: This has typical watering needs, meaning this should be watered at least twice a week.
  • Maximum Growth Size: Can grow up to 6 to 12 inches tall and 3 to 15 inches wide.
  • Possible Problems: It is prone to a disease that can produce purple-brown spots underneath its leaves.

The Bearberry Plant is one of the famous ground covers used in landscaping.

This is a good choice for beginners as it doesn’t require much care or maintenance.

Its leaves are paddle-shaped or tear-drop and are colored green.

This is also known for its red cherry-colored berries.

However, its name is mainly based on the fact that these berries are well-loved by bears.

This can produce waxy flowers that are pale pink during the early summer.

This is a slow-growing plant, so you may need multiple of these if you want to cover the space beneath your pine tree quickly. 

You can clip off a few of its stems or get the seeds from its berries.

This will only spread rapidly once it already created mats.

14. Heuchera

  • Origin: Native to North America
  • USDA Zone Hardiness: Zones 4 to 9
  • Watering Needs: Water in the morning and at least once a week.
  • Maximum Growth Size: This can grow up to ten inches tall and spread up to 2 feet wide.
  • Possible Problems: This plant is susceptible to fungal diseases, mildew, rust, and leaf spots.

The Heuchera plant, also known as Coral Bells, is a perennial plant with varieties that make an excellent ground cover.

Some of these varieties are Heuchera Forever Red, Heuchera Zipper, and Heuchera Lime Marmalade.

Heuchera plants mainly have light and dark green, reddish, or purplish maple-leaf leaves.

It can also bear flowers, but they’re generally small and delicate.

Typically, these flowers are colored white. They may be small, but they can still look lovely to look at.

As a shade plant, a Heuchera doesn’t need much maintenance.

It can go long without water, but it’s not highly suggested to keep them thirsty.

Overall, it’s a plant that can adapt to many surroundings very well.

Evergreen Plants That Are Perfect To Grow Underneath A Pine Tree

Evergreens are plants that have leaves throughout the year. This means that these leaves don’t ever wilt or stop growing during winter.

Pine trees are evergreens, and yes, you can still choose another evergreen shrub to grow under it.

If you want your garden to remain green the whole year, then here are some evergreens that can thrive under pine trees.

15. Barrenwort

  • Origin: Native to China, Japan, and Korea
  • USDA Zone Hardiness: Zones 4 to 8
  • Watering Needs: This needs regular watering, especially during the summer. Water at least thrice a week.
  • Maximum Growth Size: Can grow up to 1 foot tall and 2 feet wide
  • Possible Problems: This plant is generally problem-free. Just know that this can spread aggressively.

To many, the Barrenwort or Epimedium is a perennial and evergreen plant that is also popularly used in landscaping because of its charm.

If you want something that can quickly grow and spread underneath your pine tree, this is an excellent choice as it’s considered invasive.

Now, since this is the case, this may require a bit of maintenance.

The Epimedium leaves are heart-shaped and usually long.

The color of its leaves changes depending on the season.

They are solid green in color during summer and are sometimes mixed with red.

16. ‘Prelude’ Japanese Pieris

  • Origin: Native to Eastern and Southern Asia, Eastern North America, and Cuba
  • USDA Zone Hardiness: Zones 5 to 9
  • Watering Needs: Best to water this just once a week. Its soil should be dry 3 inches deep before you water it again to keep it from dying.
  • Maximum Growth Size: Can grow up to 18 inches tall and spread 18 inches wide
  • Possible Problems: Occasional, this plant may have leaf spots and lace bug infections. Other pests that can bother this plant are mites and scales.

The ‘Prelude’ Japanese Pieris is a plant that has ornamental features.

It’s easily a great addition to your garden as it could be a standout.

This multi-stemmed shrub is finely textured with its small dark green foliage that can turn pink in spring.

Its leaves are glossy, and its flowers are white and bell-shaped.

These flowers usually bloom during the early to mid-spring.

It’s a plant that is generally low-maintenance.

Pruning is best done after flowering.

Aside from growing under a shaded area like beneath a pine tree, this would also look nice for rock gardens and containers.

17. Blue Princess

Blue PrincessPin
  • Origin: Has wide distribution throughout tropical and subtropical zones
  • USDA Zone Hardiness: Zones 4 to 7
  • Watering Needs: Water this plant regularly, especially during its growing stage. Water at least twice a week or more during the summer.
  • Maximum Growth Size: Can grow up to 15 feet tall and 10 feet wide
  • Possible Problems: Susceptible to pest infestations like mealy bugs, spider mites, and scales

The Blue Princess is also known as the Blue Princess Holly Plant, Blue Prince, and Blue Holly.

Its leaves are glossy and dark green. Against the light, they may also appear a bit bluish.

It can bloom white flowers in spring and fall and can also bear bright red berries.

However, these red berries shouldn’t be consumed as they are toxic to pets and humans.

Overall, the Blue Princess is easy to grow as long as it stays in slightly acidic and moist soil.

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