What to plant under a tree?

RowieRowie Posts: 8

Morning all,

I'm completely new to gardening (and this site, so hello! image), and am looking for ideas of what to plant under a large sycamore tree.

The garden itself is south facing, the tree is at the back of the garden, so the area tends to get sun early in the morning then shaded for the rest of the day in the summer.

What would you recommend?

Many thanks,

Rowie x



  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 16,214

    Hello Rowie. Do you want something tall or small? Do you want evergreen or deciduous? Is the ground currently bare or covered with grass or something else? Do you have time to look after the plants or so you want to forget about it once it's planted?

    A lot of questions.

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 19,412

    I have just underplanted some trees in my garden with a mix of geranium phaeum and saxifrage London Pride.

    The geranium will spread happily and has purple blotches on its foliage and small purple flowers in spring which are attractive to bees and hoverflies.   There is also a version with white flowers.   Geranium dalmaticum has evergreen foliage and clear pale pink flowers.  Geranium macrorhizum has scented foliage which goes red in winter and flowers can be white, pink or deep purpley pink.

    The saxifrage will also spread but give a low mat of foliage in glossy rosettes with thin spikes of small fluffy flowers later in the season - if all goes to plan.

    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • RowieRowie Posts: 8

    Hello Pansyface, 

    I was thinking something small, perhaps evergreen, for interest all round. I have what I think is an Azelea currently under the tree, that does really well, and produces beautiful orange flowers in the spring.

    There is a spot next to this, nearer the tree that I would like to put something to fill that gap,( currently just soil.) Happy to have something low growing that spreads, to fill the gaps around that area.

    As for looking after it... I'm very new to this, so would need something that if I did

    forget about, it wouldn't be such a bad thing...image





  • Did you want something there all year round or flowers for the seasons. Daffofdils, bluebells, snowdrops etc would look lovely in the spring. Ferns would be there all year round. 

  • RowieRowie Posts: 8

    Thanks Obelixx,

    Those plants look really nice (yes,... I had to look them up image) I think they may look good under my tree.


  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 16,214

    If you can grow azaleas well (I can't because of the soil, but I love them) then I'd plant more, of different colours, as they look spectacular in a group.

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • RowieRowie Posts: 8

    Hi Star gaze lily,

    I would love some colour all year round ideally, I did consider bluebells etc, but then wondered about the rest of the year and how it may look....

    Unless you think they may look good planted with other plants for year round interest?


  • Alan4711Alan4711 LincolnshirePosts: 1,572

    We have planted (or Kate has planted ) under a plum tree Cyclamen and they are thriving, we checked first with the RHS ::  A delightful tuberous perennial providing colour often when little else is flowering, particularly in late winter or early spring. Hardy cyclamen species and cultivars are ideal for naturalising under trees, on banks or in a shady border and planted in association with other early-flowering woodland plants such as snowdrops, winter aconites and primroses. we also planted Hostas and living near the coast we can surround our plants with seaweed so no slugs and snails hope this is helpful image Again a bit dull erein Munds

  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,088

    Of the geraniums obelixx mentions I have found macrorrihizum to be very reliable, dalmaticum a bit inclined to fade away. There's also the hybrid between the 2, halfway in size, G x cantabrigiensis, comes in at least 2 colours. But I still rate macrorrhizum as number one.

  • Yes sorry Rowie, thats what I meant, so you would have a pop of colour in Spring when the other plants weren't in flower. Meant perhaps one or two small ferns for interest amongst other flowering plants. Astilbes like shade and would mix in with plants suggested by others.

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