What plants will grow well under pine trees? The space is quite shady and has pine needles pretty much covering it. The soil is fairly dry.
Although it can be challenging, it’s a myth that nothing will grow under large pine or spruce trees. The reason many plants don’t thrive under evergreens is dense shade and extreme dryness. The trees have dense root systems and are strong competitors for soil nutrients and moisture.
The cure: If you plant perennials where they face dry shade conditions, give your shade garden plants the best possible chance by watering deeply and fertilizing more often than you normally would, and put a layer of mulch down. To let more light into your shade garden, consider elevating trees by cutting off some of the bottom branches. This works with deciduous trees, pine trees or thin older spruces, but don’t do this if your evergreen is a perfect Christmas tree shape with branches down to ground level. In that case, I would just mulch under the tree rather than disfigure it. The following is a list of some “survivor perennials” for dry shade you might want to try:
• Barren strawberry (Waldsteinia): A low-growing, dense mat of leaves that slightly resemble those of strawberries.
• Big-root geranium (Geranium macrorrhizum): Attractive and aromatic leaves, flowers in late spring in colors ranging from white to pink and magenta, depending on cultivar. Not to be confused with the common annual geraniums of the genus Pelargonium.
• Barrenwort (Epimedium x versicolor): Attractive heart-shaped leaves. With its delicate yellow flowers, ‘Sulphureum’ is the most popular cultivar.
• Dead nettle (Lamium maculatum): Look for cultivars such as ‘Beacon Silver’ with rosy pink flowers and silver leaves edged in green or the white-blooming ‘White Nancy.’
• Heart-leaved bergenia (Bergenia cordifolia): Large, leathery leaves and rose-pink flowers in early spring. Looks great in a big grouping.
• Sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum): Finely textured leaves and white flowers in spring. This is a top-flight groundcover in the dry shade garden. Note that it can be invasive.
• Groundcover plants: To make it really easy, consider the big three ground covers: ivy, pachysandra, and periwinkle, which are all tough evergreen perennial plants, perfect for the shade garden.