Plants and Flowers That Will Grow Under Pine Trees

July 20, 2006
pine trees


I need advice about what type of plants/flowers, preferably perennials, could be planted under pine trees. I've been told that the dropping pine needles kill most plants because they give off kerosene. The area in question is very shady. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!

Hardiness Zone: 6a

Teri Hayes from Klamath Falls, OR



Planting under pines can be difficult for a few reasons. The biggest reason is that that the soil under them is made acidic from dropping pine needles. Large tree roots also tend to suck up all of the water and nutrients in the area and the site tends to be dry. To grow successfully, plants need to prefer acidic soil and be able to thrive in a shady site.

Here are a few good candidates (annuals and perennials): Impatiens, wallerana, trillium, lungwort, hellebores, Virginia bluebells, rhododendron, azalea, hydrangea, cardinal flower, hosta, Jacob's ladder, Canadian ginger, saxifraga, heuchera, hepatica, ferns, barren strawberry, big-root geranium, lily-of-the-valley, bishop's hat, dead nettle and sweet woodruff. Look for shade-loving plants that prefer acidic soil. You might also consider pot-scaping with container plants or creating raised beds around the trees to avoid having to disturb any tree roots. Incidentally, you've been misinformed. Pine needles do not give off kerosene.


Good Luck!



By carla bledsoe (Guest Post)
July 7, 20061 found this helpful
Top Comment

In our acid Ozark soil, wild strawberries grow under cedar and pines. I would think tame berries would do as well. Blueberries love acid soil and so do azaleas. Google search plants for acid soil and see what else comes up. Good luck.

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Here are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community.

September 15, 2013

If I remove the pine needles from my raised flower garden, will the flowers be alright with just a few needles here and there? I've been reading the articles about flowers and shrubs that are compatible with living under pine trees. My friend and my husband both said the needles are acidic and shouldn't be left in the garden. If I keep them cleared out of the garden in the fall when they begin to drop, will that help keep the soil from being too acidic?

By Sherrie


Gold Post Medal for All Time! 523 Posts
September 17, 20130 found this helpful

University of Wisconsin-Extension, Cooperative Extension: Pine Needles Cause Acid Soil Fact or Fiction

Believe it or not, this is fiction, a myth. Pine needles do not make the soil more acidic. This bit of garden lore is so common that almost everyone believes it, including many professionals.


If you still have concerns, you can but a kit to test your soil's ph for 3 or 4 dollars.

May 11, 20190 found this helpful

True the needles themselves are not acidic. Maybe for a short bit when they are green and drying but brown needles are not. The acidity I have read often comes from it basically being a monoculture (pines) and using up most of certain nutrients and a surplus of others. Wood products use up nitrogen to go through the rotting process.

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August 27, 2015

I have an old Singer Featherweight, and it has been a trusty machine. I was sewing with no problems what so ever, but all of a sudden it decided not to sew. The needle remains threaded and enters and exits the material, but no stitch is left behind.

Sometimes it will start to stitch, but then nothing, leaving a trail of thread back to the original stitch. I have completely removed the thread from the machine, and rethreaded it multiple times, switched bobbins, but am just stumped.


August 28, 20150 found this helpful

If you removed & replaced the needle plate, then when you put it back on you need to make sure the finger around the hook area is placed in the slot under the needle plate or it will not sew properly. Hope that makes sense as that is most often the problem. Its happened to me and it is shown in the manual if you have one. If not then find online.

September 2, 20150 found this helpful

You might double check the needle. It might be in backwards. This happened to a friend of mine.

April 24, 20170 found this helpful

Even though you've used it plenty of times, I'm sure, you still might want to go back and make sure you've threaded the tensioner above the needle the right way.


We were having the darnedest time trying to figure out why ours wasn't working right either. Turns out, even though we had done it hundreds of times before, in our haste, we threaded it "out of order". All it took was going back to the old manual to discover our boo-boo.

November 15, 20210 found this helpful

I have found also if the thread and the bobbin aren't the same weight, it can cause lots of trouble. Or if the needle is the incorrect size for the thread

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September 30, 2017

I live in northern California, zone 9. I have several pines in, sunny/part sun areas- not shady. What bulbs, perennials, or shrubs can grow in this location?

Also, if the plants are deer resistant and drought tolerant it would help too.


Diamond Post Medal for All Time! 1,246 Posts
September 30, 20170 found this helpful

Here are some drought friendly plants to grow in zone nine:

  • Sedum spathulifolium Cape Blanco
  • Libertia peregrinans (it is from New Zealand and grows well in California)
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  • Angelina plant
  • Voodoo plant (succulent family)
  • Sempervivum (a European succulent)

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September 30, 20170 found this helpful

There are quite a few shrubs and perennials that grow well under pine trees. You will have to decide what size plant you want and if you want it to be evergreen or die back in winter and return after a cold snap (smaller plants).

  • I live in zone 9 and of course, azaleas are the first plant that comes to my mind because they do well under pine trees. These can grow tall and wide or trimmed/pruned to any size.
  • Azaleas are plants that grow best in dabbled shade and -- once established -- doesnt require regular watering.
  • There are answers to this question in previous ThriftyFun postings for more ideas.
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This is a link to a site that offers names of shrubs and other plants.

You can also Google plants to plant under pine trees with your zip code or zone 9 and find lots more.

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Silver Post Medal for All Time! 418 Posts
August 27, 2015

We had a bunch of pine trees cut and the stumps ground up. Now we have a lot of saw dust and shavings on the area where we want to plant some shrubbery. What will grow well in this area?


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November 11, 20171 found this helpful

You now have acid soil. Here are some plants that will do well:

  • Creeping wintergreen
  • Metallica crisps
  • Rhododendron
  • Witch alder
  • Columbine
  • Bergenia
  • Pink lily Of the Valley

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April 19, 20190 found this helpful

Thank you. I'm still working on that area to get it ready for landscaping. Sure am glad those pine trees are gone with all this wind we have been having. I do miss the shade but not the mess of twigs and pine cones that they made.

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September 1, 2013

Row of pine trees.I live in mid-Michigan; what are the best flowers and plants to grow under my pine trees? They get morning sun from the east, the branches are trimmed up high!

By Laurie Y. from Millington, MI


September 9, 20130 found this helpful

I use to live in Michigan and had many pine trees. I tried a variety of plants with no luck. Seemed they never got enough water, even though I would water them daily. I was told that the ground beneath was too acid to grow anything. I also tried native ferns, but again they seemed to wilt and die quite fast. However, what I did find, was that I had a huge crop of Moral Mushrooms yearly under and around the pine trees ! So you might want to wait till next Mayish and check to see if you have any of the delicacies under your trees.

May 30, 20160 found this helpful

My pine trees are young...not enough room to try to plant anything but if it's any help I have mature cypress trees near the sidewalk side of our home. When we moved in I planted cuttings of hosta and they are doing very well. Not sure if Cypress are acidic like pine however.

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April 20, 2011

What can be grown under pine trees? Any herbs, etc.?

Hardiness Zone: 6b

By AnnerMoses from Hindman, KY


April 20, 20110 found this helpful

Thats a good question, I was wondering about that myself, will be watching your feedback. :)


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April 21, 20110 found this helpful

Plants that like an acidic soil, and partial shade. If you scroll down the page, there is a good article by Ellen Brown, and comments by others that can will help you make a decision.

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