Friday, May 1, 2009

More underplanting

The Carroll Gardens newsletter includes this timely question about underplanting maple trees, my exact challenge:

Question: The soil under our Maple tree is filled with roots and grass simply will not grow no matter how many times I have tried. I gave up on the grass and tried Pachysandra but it has dwindled away to nothing over the last year since I planted it. Is there anything that will grow under these conditions?

Answer: Growing plants under a Maple tree is indeed difficult. The problems are: shade, root competition and impoverished, dry soil. You may literally have to axe out a small section of root to be able to get your plants established, but this will not harm the Maple. The three plants with which I have had success, are: Symphytum grandiflorum, Geranium macrorrhizum and Japanese-variegated Solomon Seal (Polygonatum odoratum Thundergil Variegatum). I suggest you start with a few plants of each and see which thrives best under the Maple. All three will eventually spread and cover the ground.

I love the perennial geraniums and will seriously consider them - the others seem too tall for what I'm envisioning, but my vision changes by the day.

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