Pine trees have a reputation for making other plants hard to grow underneath them. A lot of this revolves around the acidity of the soil, but that’s an overexaggerated fact.
There are other aspects of pine trees that affect the plants below them, though. Pine trees do grow in slightly acidic soil, and their thick foliage can block the rain and sun.
So, to grow plants beneath your pine trees, you need to choose ones that are shade tolerant and drought-resistant. They should also do well in slightly acidic soil.
To help you choose, we’ve put together a list of 17 plants that are good for under pine trees.
Best Flowers To Grow Under Pine Trees
1. Persian Violet
Scientific name: Exacum affine
Persian violets are gorgeous but delicate flowers. Direct sunlight can actually scorch their petals and leaves.
That’s why they’re great for growing under pine trees. The thick foliage of the pine tree will filter most of the sunlight that shines down.
Just be sure to keep the soil moist, as this same canopy does block a lot of water as well.
The idea that pine trees make the soil below too acidic for many plants is an old wives’ tale. The reality is that pine trees grow best in slightly acidic soil; they don’t create the pH levels themselves.
Persian violets do well in many types of soil, including those that are slightly acidic. They just need good drainage, which pine trees provide due to their roots.
2. Grape Hyacinth
Scientific name: Muscari armeniacum
Grape hyacinths are versatile plants that do well in both sun and shade. If you want them to last longer, though, planting in the shade of a pine tree is best.
Their bell-like blooms look stunning when they can naturalize in loose drifts under trees. They also have two growing seasons, so you can enjoy them in both spring and fall.
They’ll even persist through winters if they’re mild enough.
3. White Trillium
Scientific name: Trillium grandiflorum
The great white trillium is a perennial flower that grows naturally in woodlands. So, its natural habitat is in close proximity to trees, including pines.
This also means that it grows well in full shade. As long as you keep its soil moist, white trilliums are great for planting underneath shady pine trees.
4. Meadow Anemone
Scientific name: Anemone canadensis
If you want something to really fill up your garden or yard, meadow anemone is a great choice. In fact, you may have to do some aggressive pruning, as this plant can take over an area without care.
Since pine trees can be hard environments for many plants, you may want to try a tenacious flower like this.
5. Jacob’s Ladder
Scientific name: Polemonium reptans
The “reptans” of the Latin name for this flower means “creeping.” That’s because Jacob’s ladder grows long tendrils along the ground with bright blue flowers.
The leaves can also give your garden a unique look. They’re “pinnately compound” meaning that they split into smaller leafy segments.
This gives them the ladder-like look from which their common name comes.
6. Dwarf Crested Iris
Scientific name: Iris cristata
Although its blooms are as tiny as the name suggests, dwarf crested irises still pack a visual punch. They have long, blue-violet petals with contrasting yellow or white central bands.
Dwarf crested irises grow wild in woodland areas. In fact, one of their main habitats is pine barrows stretching across the east coast and southern United States.
What better flower to plant under your pine trees than one that grows there naturally?
Scientific name: Aquilegia coerulea
Columbines come in a huge variety of shapes and colors, but the Colorado blue species is especially beautiful. It’s a perennial plant whose flowers can grow up to two-and-a-half feet tall.
This is even with minimal sunlight; columbines grow best in the shade. That makes them great for growing under pine trees.
8. Wild Geranium
Scientific name: Geranium maculatum
Although they prefer moist soil, wild geraniums can tolerate a range of soil conditions. With proper attention, they can even thrive under pine trees.
They also do well in shade and are often found in shady areas in the wild. If you want to include them in your landscaping, they just need close attention to their water levels.
Scientific name: Pulmonaria officinalis
Its name might not be pretty, but lungwort is a stunning plant perfect for growing under pine trees. It can grow anywhere from full shade to full sun and likes well-drained soil.
Lungwort produces delicate flowers in shades of purple and pink. Even more striking are its leaves. They often feature distinctive silvery-white speckles.
The speckles can be so dense that the whole leaf appears silver!
Best Shrubs For Under Pine Trees
10. American Wintergreen
Scientific name: Gaultheria procumbens
If you want a change from flowers but don’t want to lose any color, try planting an American wintergreen bush.
These bushes produce bright red berries that can attract birds and leaves that release fragrance when you crush them.
In addition, wintergreen bushes prefer slightly acidic soil, as pine trees do. They also do well in heavy shade, so they work very well underneath pines.
11. Bigleaf Hydrangea
Scientific name: Hydrangea macrophylla
Also known as French hydrangeas, these flowering shrubs are great plants for planting under pine trees.
Hydrangeas do usually like sunny areas, but too much can hinder their growth. Like Persian violets, direct sunlight can burn their delicate leaves.
Planting below pine trees can be beneficial to hydrangeas, especially if you live in a very warm, sunny climate.
12. Mountain Laurel
Scientific name: Kalmia latifolia
The flowers of the mountain laurel shrub have a beautiful cup shape and slight points like a star.
Inside each cup are long stamens and small markings of a different color from the rest of the flower.
These flowering shrubs like slightly acidic soil and grow best in partial shade. They can also tolerate full shade, although it may reduce their flowering.
They also won’t have to fight against the pine tree for water since they are fairly drought resistant.
Scientific name: Kerria japonica
Looking for a bold statement plant for under your pine tree? The kerria shrub is visually stunning and very tolerant of pine trees overhead.
These bright yellow shrubs prefer partial to full shade and are very resistant to drought. Since it doesn’t need that much water, it won’t be bothered by the pine foliage blocking the rain.
14. American Cranberry Bush
Scientific name: Viburnum trilobum
Another bush that still adds a pop of color, the American cranberry bush is a very hardy plant. It produces bright red berries all throughout the fall and winter.
But their leaves also provide visual appeal through the seasons. In spring, the leaves are bright green. As fall arrives, they change to shades ranging from yellow to reddish purple.
Best Ferns And Leafy Plants For Under Pine Trees
15. Lady Fern
Scientific name: Athyrium filix-femina
If your garden or yard needs a little more greenery, consider planting lady ferns. This is a perennial that, while slow to grow, is easy to maintain.
It has vibrant green leaves in the spring and summer that have a fine, lacy appearance. And unlike some other ferns, it’s tolerant of dry soil. This comes in handy under pine trees, which can block a lot of rain.
It also isn’t just tolerant of shade, it’s where this fern grows best. It’s one of the best ferns to plant beneath the shade of a pine tree.
Scientific name: Hostas sp.
Hostas are another good plant for under pine trees because they tolerate shade so well. They can also handle dry conditions better than most plants, so the competition for water isn’t a problem.
In terms of appearance, there are many types of hostas plants, ranging in shade from lime green to blue green. Their leaves also tend to be variegated with cream, white, yellow, or another shade of green.
No matter which variation you choose, the heart-shaped leaves will certainly stand out beneath the needles of your pine tree.
17. Lily Of The Valley
Scientific name: Convallaria majalis
Lily of the valley plants have more robust greenery than other flowers. They have very broad leaves that can provide ground cover of about two feet per planting.
But these leaves are home to very delicate shoots of drooping, bell-shaped flowers. They’re bright white and have a nice fragrance, so lilies of the valley offer an excellent contrasting appearance.
They are also great for planting under pine trees because they prefer dappled to full shade rather than the sun. They are also rhizomatous, meaning they have a complex root system that tolerates dry conditions.