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Groundcover Idea Beneath Shallow Rooted Trees


Lily of the Valley or Convallaria majalis

Gardening beneath trees can be challenging if trees are shallow rooted. Sometimes it is a case of futility in trying to get plants to grow.

Trees hog water and soak up nutrients. There are a few plants that do well under these circumstances such as Lily of the Valley groundcover.

Lily of the Vally is a plant for tough spots. Plus, you’ll love the sweet fragrance of the dainty flowers in spring which can be cut and brought indoors.

Lily of the Valley Features

  • Drought Tolerant Groundcover – Thrives under trees and shrubs
  • Moisture loving Groundcover – for planting neardownsputs
  • Deer proof
  • Acid loving – will thrive under pines
  • Spreads rapidly by rhizomes
  • Fragrant blooms in spring
Convallis majlias8

Lily of the Valley cut flowers have a sweet scent!

Lily of the Valley is a wanderer that will spread very fast, so it is best to do a yearly check after flowering and remove unwanted rhizomes that are creeping out of their desired growing area.

Here are a few other plants that grow successfully beneath shallow rooted trees

Here are a few things you should know:

  • It is best to select plants with shallow root systems
  • It is best to dig small planting holes to minimize disturbance to the tree
  • Plants need extra water the first year
  • Remember to mulch 3 inches deep

PLANT FINDER – Find Your Perfect Plant

Find the perfect plants & flowers for your garden

Find Your Perfect Plant!

With Plant Finder Guide, you can find your perfect plants & flowers for your garden.  Search by height, size, sun/shade needs, plant type, flower color, hardiness – all within a few clicks of a mouse.

At we are here to help you with your garden plant needs!  Find your favorite sun perennials,  shade perennials, shrubs, Hydrangeas, ground covers and so much more for your garden!

CLICK HERE to start using the Plant Finder.


Climbing Hydrangea – Shade Loving Flowering Vine

Climbing Hydrangeas are one of the few flowering vines that will grow well in shade

Climbing Hydrangea or Hydrangea anomala petiolaris is one of the few hardy flowering vines that will tolerate shade.

This colossal climbing vine requires sturdy support (such as a tree) and thrives in part shade conditions. A fast growing deciduous vine, climbing Hydrangeas will grow 30 feet tall or more.   It is hardy from Zones 4-9.

This climber clings by tentacles (like ivy) on any surface.  It’s easy to train up a tree.  Once planted, simply lay the stems near the tree and it will stick like super glue.  You never have to do anything to them except an occasional prune to keep them within bounds.

Attractive green heart-shaped glossy foliage is accented with showy white fragrant lace-cap type blooms in early summer.

If grown as a ground cover, Climbing Hydrangea can cover up to 200 square feet once established

If grown as a ground cover it can cover up to 200 square feet once established.

Give Hydrangea fertile, moist, well drained soil.

Climbing Hydrangea can take a couple of years to establish itself in the landscape, so it requires a bit of patience.  After 2 years or so, they really take off.  I can tell you it is definitely worth the wait as it offers the most stunning vertical beauty for any shade garden.

Easy Gardening with Drought Proof Nepeta Ground Cover

Nepeta & Roses combine beautifully on this slope

Nepeta or Catmint is one of the easiest drought proof ground covers you’ll ever grow.  This sun perennial is a member of the mint family and known for its fragrant foliage & flowers.  Catmint  will fill in fast, thrive on neglect and little water, yet still reward you with long lasting blooms.

Walker Low's gentle lax habit adds a soft look in this garden setting

I’ve grown a number of varieties of Nepeta over the years, and one that I’m particularly fond of is Walker’s Low .(Zone 3 hardy)  Just give this tough plant a sunny, well drained location and enjoy delightful blue  blooms from early summer-frost.

Here’s why Nepeta is such a great plant:

  • Terrific for banks and slopes.  Drought tolerant so it can take those tough sites
  • Edging – Gentle spilling habit softens any hardscape
  • Ground cover – makes an excellent ground cover for sunny areas
  • Sprawling habit  fills in fast
  • Blooms the first year
  • 8” lavender blue spikes (I cannot get enough of blues!)
  • Long bloom time
  • Thrives will little water
  • Garden Design –   Cool blue Nepeta blooms combine so well with warm yellows/golds such as Rudbeckia or Coreopsis,  For one of the longest blooming combinations, combine with Knock Out Roses.
  • Resistant to pests and diseases

Nepeta works well in sunny areas as an under planting to small trees

About the only thing I do is shear it back after its first flower flush.  This not only makes for a tidy plant but encourages a new flush of blooms.   I also remove old growth in early spring.

If you are looking for easy gardening – make sure you add Nepeta Walker’s Low to your list – you’ll be glad you gave it a try.

More on Nepeta:

Nepeta & Rose Collection

5 Reasons Why Coneflower Marmalade is a Great Garden Plant

Marmalade Coneflower grows up to 30" tall and combines well with Ornamental Grasses, Butterfly Bush and so much more!

Coneflowers are one of the best garden plants.  They tolerate heat, wind, humidity, drought, clay soil, and some shade and come in an array of colors, heights, flower forms. It is really difficult to choose because they are so beautiful.   (ok – I’ll  take three of each just because I can’t make up my mind).

Echinacea Marmalade really caught my attention this past year.  It’s no wonder since it’s from breeder Arie Bloom (Plants Nouveau). Arie has been bringing  us so many amazing, mostly double flowering coneflowers such as Hot Papaya, Pink Double Delight, Coconut Lime, and Marmalade to name a few.

There are a few things I noticed about Marmalade Coneflower this past year and why it is such a  jammin great plant.

1 – Double the Color=Double the Fragrance

Beautifully formed 4” flowers each containing 150 vibrant orange petals. Blooms will range from a oh-so-pretty deep

150 FRAGRANT petals that make great cut flower bouquets

orange to a peachy buff color.  Double flowering forms means double the fragrance in your garden!  Plus Coneflowers make for a great cut flower!

2 – Longest Coneflower to Bloom

Marmalade was in full bloom in Mid-June.  In Michigan, Coneflowers don’t even start blooming in July and still in full bloom in September with any cutting back or deadheading!

3 – Lax Attitude

Coneflowers can vary in habit from upright to varying degrees of lax, more open habit.  The later, like Marmalade makes for a fuller plant while providing cozy company when nestled in between two taller plants  (such as Butterfly Bush and Pennisetum Karley Rose).

4 – Lasting Color

Deep orange blooms ages to a long lasting buff color.  Other coneflowers turn black immediately after the flower fades,

Marmalade has transitioned to a soft, buff color and still going strong in late September in Michigan

but not Marmalade. This coneflower will give you long lasting garden performance late in the season before turning dark.

5 – Highest Coneflower Rating

Every year, Great Garden Plants donate new plants to Chicago Botanical Gardens for their Plant Trials.   We were very pleased to hear from Richard Hawke, Plant Evaluation Manager that amidst hundreds of Coneflowers in their evaluation, this was his favorite Coneflower in 2011 for exceptional display and performance.

Add this charming Coneflower to your perennial garden this year, if you haven’t done so already.

Where to Buy Echinacea Marmalade

Tips on Growing Coneflowers

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