Good Plants for a Maple Tree Garden Bed

Gardening under or near maple trees is challenging because maples have shallow or surface roots that interfere with planting and may compete with plants for nutrients. The canopy of maple trees is dense, creating deep colour, which only enables development of shade-tolerant plants beneath. Rain is deflected by the canopy, preventing water from reaching the ground beneath, producing dry colour conditions. However, many plants thrive under or near maple trees.

Planting Considerations

A primary consideration, when planting under maple trees, is not to add more than just about two or three inches of dirt or mulch. Thick layers of dirt or mulch will kill the tree or even cause it to decline. Don’t plant really tall or large plants beneath the maple tree because they’ll compete for light and also result in a awful garden layout, depending on the magnitude of this tree. Plant larger plants nearer to the tree trunk and smaller plants farther out. Dig holes for plants between roots and use tiny plants, even when their mature size is large. Massive holes will disrupt tree roots. Inevitably, some small tree roots may need to be cut, even if digging only small plant holes.

Perennial Plants

Larger perennial plants that grow well under maple trees are hostas and ferns. Hostas adore shade and come in countless varieties that bloom with lilac or white flowers in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 6 through 10. They are mainly valued for their attractive leaves, which come in various shades of green or using gold and white variegation. Hostas don’t obey root competition from trees. However, deer and slugs are important threats to hostas. Ferns are deer-resistant and prosper under trees. Maiden hair fern (Adiantum pedatum) includes fronds that grow up to two feet in USDA zones 4 through 9. The wedge-shaped leaflets are neatly arranged on each frond. Yet another fern, Japanese painted fern (Athyrium niponicum) grows well in USDA zones 4 through 10. It has silvery fronds with bluish or reddish hues. Plant bleeding heart (Dicentra spp.) Under large maples that don’t have low branches. Bleeding heart can reach 2-to-3 feet in USDA zones 2 through 9. It flowers with pink or white flowers in spring.

Ground Cover Plants

Shade-loving, low-growing perennial ground cover plants grow well under and about maple trees. Lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) is famous for its fragrance of its white, small bell-shaped blooms in spring, growing in USDA zones 3 through 9. It spreads by rhizomes, known as “pips,” and prefers moist soil. Sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum) is a low-growing plant with fragrant, delicate, whorled leaves. It flowers with star-shaped, white flowers in spring. Sweet woodruff grows well in USDA zones 5 through 10. Violets also grow well under maples. Sweet violet (Viola odorata) is a spreading ground cover plant using heart-shaped leaves and fragrant, violet-, white- or rose-colored blooms, booming in USDA 6 through 10. Myrtle (Vinca minor), also called “dwarf periwinkle,” is a evergreen creeper with shiny dark leaves. It flowers profusely with white or blue blossoms in spring. It grows well in USDA zones 4 through 9. Myrtle may choke out other plants, however, spring-blooming bulbs are good companion plants for myrtle.

Spring-Blooming Bulbs

Spring-blooming bulbs are simple to plant beneath maple trees. Plant bulbs singly, particularly the large bulbs, so they only require a narrow hole. Tulips, daffodils, snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis), grape hyacinths (Muscari armeniacum) and also Grecian wind flowers (Anemone blanda) grow well under deciduous trees like maples. The foliage of these plants receives enough light in spring before the canopy of this maple reaches its full density. Snowdrops and Grecian wind flowers grow in USDA zones 6 through 9, while tulips prosper in zones 5 through 9, and daffodils in zones 3 through 10. Fertilize spring-blooming bulbs beneath maples annually.

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