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What to plant under a conker tree

ElferElfer Posts: 329
edited May 2021 in Plants
We have a shady north west facing corner of our garden above which is the neighbor's conker tree. We don't appreciate the falling conkers in autumn as it plays havoc with that corner of the lawn. So this year I extended both the west & North facing borders by a couple of feet and thinking of planting some deciduous ferns as well as an arum lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica) which seems to be semi evergreen. That area of the garden is mostly damp bar the drier months.

However I am wondering if the conker bombardment will come sooner that the plants dying down to ground level. Alternatives would be to erect a protective netting above that area for a month or two or plant something that would survive the bombardment. Any suggestions or ideas?

While on topic of conkers I noticed that we are getting quite a few new shoots of baby horse chestnuts in and amongst the native hedge in that area, tried to pull a few out but the rootballs are rather deep so wondered how they manage to get that deep (over 3 or 4 inches), it might have been when the property was developed but that was over 3 years ago or it could be the squirrels, do they dig individual conkers in?


  • K67K67 Leicestershire Posts: 2,507

  • CeresCeres Posts: 2,149
    Conker trees are a year round job. It'll be sticky buds soon but to deal with your conker problem......they might smash a few leaves when they fall but they are unlikely to destroy everything that you plant. I have plenty of plants under a couple of conker trees and have only lost a few tomatoes to the bombardment. The biggest problem is getting rid of all the spiny cases before they go hard and brown because they are very painful to pick up accidentally. As to the germinated conkers, they can be a ****** to pull up but usually budge if you are very determined. Decent gardening gloves are a help in gripping the stems. Squirrels will bury conkers, often in the lawn, but that makes no difference to how difficult it is to pull out the baby trees. Alternatively, lop off the tops at ground level (baby trees, not squirrels) and they are very unlikely to grow back.
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 28,551
    Horse chestnuts are only mildly allelopathic so shouldn't inhibit other plants from growing especially if you gather up the leaves and conkers as they fall.  This will also stop the conkers germinating and becoming problem seedlings.  As @Ceres says cutting them at ground level will kill them if you can't pull them.

    Then you just have to look for hardy plants that do well in shade, especially dry shade which it is likely to be under the tree.   Try and dig in or fork on as much well-rotted manure and/or garden compost as you can before you start planting to improve fertility and moisture retention.

    Have a look at hardy ferns and hebes such as Charming White whose pale lilac buds will open to white flowers and brighten up the shade.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • ElferElfer Posts: 329
    Thanks for all the advice,  @Ceres I do wonder how the conkers ended up so deep in the soil though. @Obelixx That corner of the garden is very damp in winter as it doesn't get much sun. I already have a couple of hostas and was thinking of adding Heuchera, ferns and arum lily.  I have a few hebes elsewhere in the garden so was looking to add some diversity 
  • robairdmacraignilrobairdmacraignil CorkPosts: 669
    Mahonia is tolerant of shade and the mature plants are fairly robust so I don't think conkers would do much damage.
  • ElferElfer Posts: 329
    @robairdmacraignil that's good to know as I am on the lookout for a mahonia to plant between this corner and my hydrangea. 
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