15 Plants That Grow Well Under Pine Trees

Gardening is one of the most satisfying activities you can engage in. Aside from beautifying the landscape, gardening allows you to express your creativity, eases anxiety, and reconnects you with nature.

If you’re already a gardener, you may have grown pine trees in your compound. They’re one of the most popular trees in the U.S. and it has many types—Jack Pine, Sand Pine, White Bark Pine, Loblolly Pine, Eastern White Pine, Ponderosa Pine, and Sugar Pine, among others.

plants that grow well under pine tree

But given that it towers high up there, you may want to grow some plants beneath pine trees, at least to have some ground cover and prevent unsightly bareness. Fortunately, there are many plants that grow well under pine trees, which you can source from well-stocked tree nurseries, such as the Bend Pine Nursery

Factors To Consider Before Planting Under Pine Trees

Below are some key factors you must take into account before planting anything under pine trees:

1. Soil Acidity Tolerance

Trees are known to alter and influence the ecosystem around them to support their growth. Pine trees are not the exception. They shed pine needles that are highly acidic. Once the needles hit the ground, they release their acids into the soil. This lowers the soil’s pH level. Consequently, the surrounding soil becomes very acidic.  

On that account, when choosing what to plant underneath the pine trees, make sure to consider the acidity factor. While you can neutralize the soil by using lime, it may not be the best solution. You’ll have to do this over and over to completely lower the acidity. 

It’s easier working with nature than against it. Hence, plants that do well in acidic soil are most preferable. 

2. Shade Preference

Pine trees, if left to grow freely, form a canopy with their numerous branches and leaves. The canopy will cast shade on the plants under the trees. If you put plants that can’t tolerate the dense shade, their growth will be inhibited and they’ll never flourish.

So, before planting any species, do your research on what amount of sunlight the plant needs. You also need to consider the height of your plant. You wouldn’t want it competing with your pine trees. The shorter the better.

3. Low Water Affinity 

Pine trees have a higher affinity for water. Their dense root structure makes them grab every bit of moisture in the vicinity. Accordingly, it’s wise to ensure that the plants under the pine trees can survive with minimal water. Even so, you’ll need to water the plants regularly.

4. Expertise

Without the requisite expertise, you may not successfully raise plants under pine trees. It’s unlike growing plants in an open field, where most growth conditions are favorable. Under pine trees, you have to maneuver around several obstacles, like acidity, shade, falling twigs, tree roots, and the like. For this reason, working with gardening professionals ensures you get the best plants and raise them up properly. 

To begin with, you’ll need healthy seedlings. Having experience in working with plants, they’ll guide you through the process of getting seedlings from local nurseries and transplanting them. They’ll also thoroughly assess the soil and shade conditions and suggest the most appropriate plants. 

The List Of Plants

plants that grow well under pine tree

Having identified the four critical considerations for choosing plants under pine trees, below is a list of specific plants that grow well under them:

1. Japanese Pieris

The Japanese Pieris is a must-have plant under your pines. It can survive without water for up to a week. It also has minimal maintenance requirements, thus giving you an easy time. Apart from doing well under a shade, it stands out amongst other plants given that its broad leaves bud with a reddish-bronze hue and slowly transform into shiny green. That’s a welcome color addition to your garden

2. Persian Violet

Its flowers have such an adorable color combination of purple petals and yellow stamen. Being a type of cyclamen, it does well in places with temperate climates. What’s more, the Persian violet perfectly covers the ground with its broad leaves, ensuring the bare soil is well out of sight.

3. Witch Alder

This plant is easy to recognize due to its fluffy white flower. Although it can do well in moist places, it’s also grouped with perennial plants. This is because it doesn’t need water often. It also has roots that can spread and help it trap moisture. You’ll also need to take care of these roots by trimming them. If left unattended, they grow suckers and may spread farther than you want them to.

4. Columbine

You’ll definitely love their rich range of colors, from light pastels to purples, bright reds, oranges, yellows, and bi-colors. These bell-shaped flowers do extremely well even under the shade. They actually don’t need a lot of water once their roots get firm. This makes them suitable for planting under the pine trees.

5. Rhododendron

Being a gardener, you know how critical it is to have a proper ground cover. In this context, you’d want to cover the bare soil next to pine trees with a plant that doesn’t need much water. Rhododendron, a shrub plant, will significantly improve your garden’s appearance as well as protect the soil from getting eroded by wind. It thrives in well-drained soil. It also matches the acidity levels of the pine trees.

6. Hydrangea

This is another shrub plant that does well under a pine tree. You’ll need to mulch them as their roots don’t go very deep. They’re available in various types and colors, some with blue blooms, others pink, white, or combinations of these hues. Moreover, the flowers change color depending on the pH level of the soil. So, your garden should look really nice with them. 

7. Lilies

Lilies are among the plants that thrive in shade, making them a prime choice for planting under pine trees. Lilies have an arching stem that makes them grow tall fast and then spread easily. This makes them very suitable for ground cover. Although lilies do well in shades, the Day Lily in particular doesn’t do well under pine trees. They need six hours of sun a day to fully bloom. So, plant other lily types, such as Lily of the Valley, Toad Lily, or Plantain Lily, instead of this. 

8. Jacob’s Ladder

The Jacob’s Ladder plant is an excellent spring-blooming addition to your yard. Its fragile, bell-shaped light blue flowers distinctively brighten up your yard. Although you’ll need to water it regularly, it thrives in shade. It also survives in acidic soil just like pines. Being a creeping plant, it easily spreads.

9. Wild Geraniums

These particularly thrive under pine trees as they do well in compost soil, which is characterized by dry leaves among other debris. Pine needles provide compost conditions. Therefore, Wild Geraniums can make good undercover plants. Again, they’re adaptable plants and can grow in various light and soil conditions.

10. Lady Fern

The lady fern does extremely well under dense canopies and grows in acidic soils. This makes this plant a suitable plant for growing under your pine trees. They’re also low-maintenance plants and don’t need constant watering.

11. Sweet Woodruff

You’ll surely love its fragrant leaves. For your information, Sweet Woodruff is used in flavoring beers and wines. Now, imagine such an aroma in your yard. It will do well under your pines since it loves the shade and moist soil. In addition, it keeps Deer and Chicken away. This way, your pines’ bark will be safe enough.

12. Hostas 

Most gardeners like growing them under pine trees because of their variegated leaves that feature green cores with white or yellow margins. They’re also great cover plants and easily grow and spread on their own.

13. Meadow Anemone

Their leaves have a rich green texture and are broad enough to form a flawless carpet underneath the pine trees. The leaves grow dense enough, covering all the pine needles that you so wish to hide. In a matter of months from planting, they’ll have spread and fully covered the surrounding area.

14. Bergenia

Being low-maintenance succulent plants with high tolerance to acidic soil conditions, they’re a perfect choice for pine trees undergrowth. Their purple flowers are surely a sight to behold. Not only that, their broad feathery leaves can grow from 12 to 16 inches tall, making them such a beautiful spectacle.

15. Bleeding Heart

They’ll leave your garden looking all quaint in pink. Besides, they help deter Rabbits and Deer. Even though they’ll need to be taken care of closely for the first two weeks, they’ll thereafter survive on their succulent stems for long.


By all means, don’t leave the space under your pine trees bare. It’s uninteresting that way, and you’re actually setting up the soil for wind and water erosion. Consider planting trees that thrive in shade and acidic soil conditions, like the fifteen outlined above. 

Your winning point is seeking the advice of professional gardeners to advise you on what works best under the particular conditions in your yard. Ultimately, you’ll transform your yard into a magnificent garden with unrivaled visual appeal.