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What Plants Live Under a Pine Tree?

By Ma Wen Jie ; Updated September 21, 2017
Lily of the valley is one plant that can grow well under pine trees.

The space under pine trees is often overlooked as a potential garden space. The soil around pine trees tends to be acidic. Unless pruned, the branches of pine trees can be very close to the ground. The branches of the tree shade the area under the tree. The key to planting under a pine tree is to find plants that either tolerate or grow well in acid soil, tolerate full shade, and are low-growing. Pine needles that drop off the tree often act as an organic mulch that helps minimize problems with weeds and reduces soil evaporation.


Although they are more productive in sunny locations, strawberry plants will grow in the shade under a pine tree. Strawberry plants are low-growing plants that will often grow under the lower branches of a pine tree. If the tree has branches that might interfere with the strawberries, remove a few to give the strawberries more room to grow. One thing to consider when planting strawberries under a pine tree is the terrain. If your tree’s roots have created a downward slope away from the trunk, you should not have issues with standing water. However, in some soils the weight of the tree might cause an indentation that could encourage water to pool under the tree. Strawberries do not do well in standing water.

Lily of the Valley

Lily of the valley is often thought of as a plant that grows from bulbs. They actually grow from rhizomes. Lily of the valley does well in the acidic soil under pine trees. It grows to 12 inches tall, so will often grow under pines with relatively low-growing branches. However, some trees may need to have some of the lower branches removed to allow for enough space for the flowers. Although lilies of the valley grow well in sun or shade, they do best in partial shade.


Although they can grow to several feet, azaleas can often be pruned to fit under a pine tree. Pine trees that have previously had their lower branches removed are ideal planting locations for shade-loving azaleas. However, you can also prune away lower branches to make space for this flowering shrub. Azaleas do especially well in acidic soils. The needles of the pine can help provide mulch that will help keep the soil moist. Azaleas need a lot of water, especially when first planted.


About the Author


Although he grew up in Latin America, Mr. Ma is a writer based in Denver. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, AP, Boeing, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, RAHCO International, Umax Data Systems and other manufacturers in Taiwan. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, English and reads Spanish.