What to plant among tree roots?

We have several large maple trees in our yard. It is nearly impossible to dig underneath them to plant anything. Many of the plants we put in there 6 years ago when the trees were small seem to be suffering. Any ideas on what to plant and how to do it? We are in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. Thanks, Chris
Submitted by dcspellings

Hi Chris,


Thanks for writing. The biggest issue trying to grow plants under established maple trees tends to be the fact that the maples' root systems are so large they absorb the lion's share of the moisture and nutrients.


But some plants that seem pretty well adapated to that include:

Corydalis lutea, Geranium macrorrhizum, Epimedium species, and lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria).


The first year you'll want to keep your plants well watered to help them get established. After that, they should do a pretty good job of taking care of themselves.


---Justin, Senior Garden Editor, BHG.com

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