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What to plant in shade under trees?

Hi all. After some advice please. I have just cleared an area under 10-12 trees in my garden. It was covered in climbing ivy, all over the floor. It is fairly shady and would love to get some ideas on what to plant. Fairly big, 20m x 5(ish). Thanks, Craig



  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,739

    can you elaborate on " fairly shady"?

    Do you mean  under a mature tree,under light cover of younger or smaller trees, shady for part of the day, but sunny at others? Shaded by a building?

    Is the ground generally on the dry side, or the wet side?

  • Sorry.  Ok so it's mature old trees. Not much sun at all. Fairly dry I would say. Seems like good soil.  

  • JudyNJudyN Posts: 119

    I'm struggling with the same problem. The most successful plants have been hardy geraniums, woodruff and hellebores. If it wasn't for slugs the lungwort and deadnettle would have done OK too. Bergenia is often recommended though mine doesn't look happy.

  • SueAtooSueAtoo Posts: 347

    Can you lift the crowns (remove some of the lower branches) to let in a bit more light?

    East Dorset, new (to me) rather neglected garden.
  • This appears to be an oldish thread. Maybe the OP will revisit and let us know how things are going image

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • SueAtooSueAtoo Posts: 347

    I would be very careful topping trees as they can then sprout very densely at the top, ending up even thicker and looking like lollipops.

    East Dorset, new (to me) rather neglected garden.
  • Morning. Well I have cut back some of the lower branches, and I am still struggling with what to do for ground cover. I had a LOT of ivy to clear, whch is now done. Its a huge area to cover, so I am still thinking

  • Mark56Mark56 Posts: 1,653

    Is it too dry for bulbs? Aconites & crocus are great for underplanting, as they like the summer shade from the tree canopy but thrive when they are still leafless. Good for early emerging bees too!

    Last edited: 21 February 2017 09:43:52

  • Morning Craig - good to hear how you're getting on - we had a similar patch which we now call 'the Wilderness'.  It has lamium, vinca, iris foetidissima, snowdrops, narcissus pseudonarcissus (the wild daffodils)  ferns (ones that are ok in dry soil) primula vulgaris, cyclamen coum and hellebores, and I'm planning on mahonia aquifolium towards the back of the area.  They all appear to be happy and thriving, as long as I don't let it dry out too much in dry spells during the summer.

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • There's limited choice in a dry shady spot, all I can think of is drought tolerant Ferns and Campanula.

    If you can increase the amount of moisture then Corydalis is a good choice.  Sea Holly has some drought tolerance so if you can increase the amount of light that might work.

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