Can You Plant Flowers Underneath Garden Trees?

Whether you’re growing a tall and bulbous Queensland Bottle Tree or a dramatic Dragon Tree, the ground underneath a garden tree can sometimes end up looking a little bare.

Filling this area with flowers is definitely a possibility, although it’s a task that can be quite challenging. It’s essential that you first understand the growing conditions underneath the different trees in your garden before picking flower varieties that have adapted to growing in those specific environments.


Identify Your Growing Conditions

Let’s begin with water, since all growing areas underneath trees will be lacking in this. The roots of your tree will reach out far longer and deeper than those of your flowers, meaning that any flowers you do choose to plant must be drought-tolerant.

The age of your tree also makes a difference – the older the tree, the larger its root system will be. If you’ve only just planted the tree and it’s quite young, then you can go with larger shrubs or flowers, since all of the roots will grow together. On the other hand, if your tree is already quite mature, you will need to pick flowers that don’t require too many nutrients and that have a shallow root system.

Don’t forget about sun either, since your tree will shade any plants beneath. The flowers you choose to plant will need to tolerate partial, or even full, shade.

Finally, identify the soil type beneath your tree. This will usually be quite acidic, which only a specific range of flowers will tolerate, making it worth doing a quick soil test. Soil that is sandy, or heavy in clay, or silty, will also affect the type of flowers you can grow.


Choosing Flowers

Some flowers, such as hostas, lilies, and daffodils, are known for growing well underneath just about all tree types. However, try to also choose plants that complement the tree itself.

For example, Mediterranean herbs work beautifully underneath an olive tree. Herbs such as marjoram, rosemary, and sage not only provide a distinct fragrance, but also colourful flowers.

Borage and lavender are good choices for growing underneath an avocado tree, while pansies, tansies, and yarrow will thrive underneath citrus trees.


Protecting Tree Roots

Once you’ve chosen the best flowers to plant underneath your tree, you’ll need to dig a small hole to place each of them into. This is something you need to do very carefully in order to avoid damaging the roots of your tree.

If you happen to come across a root, simply cover it over and choose another spot to dig your hole in. Whatever happens, never ever split up any of your tree’s roots.

If you can’t seem to find an area that doesn’t have any roots, then another option would be to grow your flowers in small pots instead. You can then place these underneath your garden trees, and you’ll also be able to move them around if you think that the plants require more light or water.

Although it can be a challenge to get things right, planting flowers underneath a tree is definitely an option. So long as you don’t damage your tree, your flowers should happily grow beneath, resulting in a beautiful visual display for your garden.


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