Native Plants that Grow Under Pines

The plants listed here are all tolerant of the acid environment under conifers (pine, spruce, fir, etc.), as well as for planting under most deciduous trees. The rhizomatous species work well as groundcover.

Planting Tips:

  1. Keep in mind the mature heights of plants as well as their mature width. The height of the tree and the height of its lowest branches will influence how tall the under-planting should be.
  2. Care should be taken to minimize disturbance and damage to tree roots during the preparation and planting processes. It is best to avoid large power equipment. There is a common misconception that most tree roots are deep and create a mirror image of the tree’s crown. In reality, most roots are fairly close to the surface and reach even beyond the drip-line.
  3. In an effort to disturb tree roots as little as possible, plant small-size container plants (2-1/2″ to 4″ pots), even if they will grow to a much bigger mature size. Remember to space plants allowing for their mature size.
  4. It is a good idea to mulch your transplants, especially when newly planted. The new small plants are sharing the available moisture with a large tree. Mulch will help to retain valuable water. In a woodland environment plants benefit from the cover of leaves and pine needles.

Flowering Herbacious Plants

Scientific Name Common Name Height Soil Moiture Notes
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi Bearberry 6″ – 1′ Dry-medium Rhizomatous; Deer resistant
Asarum canadense Wild Ginger 1’ Dry-medium Rhizomatous
Aquilegia canadensis Columbine 2-4’ Dry-medium Deer resistant, hummingbirds
Aster divaricatus White Woodland Aster 2-4’ Dry-medium Rhizomatous
Aster cordifolius Heart Leaved Aster 2-3’ Dry-medium Rhizomatous
Geranium maculatum Wild Geranium  1-2’ Dry-medium Rhizomatous
Helianthus strumosus Woodland Sunflower 3-5’ Dry-medium Rhizomatous, Bird, Deer resistant
Podophyllum peltatum Mayapple 1-2’ Dry-medium Rhizomatous. Foliage dies back in late summer.
Polemonium reptans Jacob’s Ladder  1-2’ Medium Excellent texured foliage.
Maianthemum racemosum Solomon’s Plume 1-3’ Medium Rhizomatous
Maiantemum stellatum Starry Solomon’s Plume 1-2’ Dry-medium Rhizomatous
Solidago flexicaulis Zigzag Goldenrod 2-4’ Dry-medium Rhizomatous
Solidago odora Anise Scented Goldenrod 1-2’  Dry-medium
Uvularia grandiflora Bellwort  1-2’ Dry-medium Spring Ephemeral.


Scientific Name Common Name Height Soil Moiture Notes
Adiantum pedatum Maidenhair Fern 1′ Dry-medium Rhizomatous; Deer resistant
Athyrium felix-femina Lady Fern 1’-2′ Dry-medium Rhizomatous; Deer resistant
Gymnocarpium Dryopteris Oak Fern 6″-1’ Dry-medium Rhizomatous; Deer resistant
Osmunda regalis Royal Fern 3′-6′ Moist Rhizomatous; Deer resistant


Scientific Name Common Name Height Soil Moiture Notes
Carex eburnea Ivory Sedge 4”’-11″ Dry-medium Deer resistant
Carex pensylvanica Pennsylvania Sedge 1’ Dry-medium Rhizomatous; Deer resistant


Bearberry, growing under pines and among the juniper
along the Lake Michigan shoreline:

Bearberry along the Lake Michigan shoreline.