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Underplanting bareroots planted last winter

MJ-JJMJ-JJ Posts: 20

I planted some bare root hornbeam and crapapples in November.  I would love to underplant them with some flowers I've grown from seed.  Would this be a bad idea, would it disturb the new root system?  I can't find much advice on this online, any guidance gratefully received! 


  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 49,118
    I'm guessing you're growing them all as individual trees?
    It would depend what the flowers are, and what sort of size the trees are. You'd need to leave adequate space around the main trunks for planting, which means no root disturbance, and will allow the flowers to establish.
    However, they are quite likely to be overshadowed and outgrown a fair bit by the hornbeam and crabapples, so if they're perennials, they'll need more room and more sustenance than annuals, so it will depend how far away you plant, and what care you give them.
    It's the reason many people use small spring bulbs for underplanting, as they will fend for themselves readily under tree canopies, because they'll get enough moisture when the trees are dormant, and don't need huge amounts of feeding.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • MJ-JJMJ-JJ Posts: 20
    I was intending to grow them as a hedge along my fence, but some have done better than others, so we'll see. 
    Excuse the messy garden in the photo, this is from when we were planting them, but you can see they are in a row along the right hand side.  I was thinking of putting some dahlias in that I've grown from seed and digging them back up when the time was right. Terrible idea??
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 49,118
    Dahlias need lots of sunlight, food and water, so I doubt whether they'd have enough sustenance or room to grow. A hedge takes up a lot of moisture, especially when getting established. 
    Even if the site's sunny, I wouldn't choose dahlias for that very narrow border.
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 7,701
    The process of lifting dahlias could also disturb the tree roots which will grow over the summer. If you want them in that border you'll need to widen it so that they are well away from the future root zone of the trees. Things that work well under deciduous trees tend to be spring flowerers that do their stuff before the trees are in full leaf - pulmonaria, brunnera, no doubt many others, as well as spring bulbs like snowdrops, crocuses, dwarf daffodils (not tulips though, they need a good baking in the sun). You could also try ferns if it's shady.
  • MJ-JJMJ-JJ Posts: 20
    Thank you both! This is really useful. 
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