Trees are an easy way to anchor a garden; they act as a natural focal point for a bed of flowers.
As you design the space, look for flowers that grow well under trees.
By choosing the right varieties, you can ensure that the plants and the trees will thrive.
Basics of Growing Flowers Under Trees
- Do trim away lower branches – trimming some of the lower branches will give you more space and sunlight.
- Don’t build a raised bed – while flower beds around trees are very beautiful, you can easily harm the tree and reduce oxygen to its surface roots, so be careful if you are building a raised garden bed.
- Do plant in holes – carefully dug holes will avoid damage to the tree’s shallow root system.
- Don’t plant large plants – large and spreading plants can easily take over a garden under the tree.
- Do water the flowers after planting – for the first couple of weeks after planting, water daily on days it does not rain.
- Do plant the right plants – certain flowers and plants do better than others when planted under a tree. Also, be sure to plant flowers that will grow in your planting zone.
1. Alpine Currant
Do you live in a northern region with a cold climate?
The alpine currant is a great choice; it can grow in areas up to USDA Zone 3.
Place the plants in full shade or near the outer edge of your under-tree garden — all they require is moist soil and occasional pruning.
This is one of the plants I add to my list of low-maintenance flowers because it is so versatile and hardy. Great for any environment.
With its beautiful, colorful flowers, the anemone adds life and joy to your garden.
Most varieties do well in zones 4 to 8. You’ll have the best luck if you leave about 3-4 inches of space between plants.
Plant anemones in soil with plenty of drainage.
The photo above features the Snowdrop Anemone, but you can also find other varieties. The Pink Anemone Clematis and the Japanese Anemone both create gorgeous blooms.
3. Azalea Flower
Bright, colorful azaleas love warmer climates, growing best in zones 6-9.
They require frequent watering and acidic soil. If you can, position your azaleas where the tree will block the wind and allow dappled sunlight.
Azaleas also thrive with morning sunlight and evening shade.
Some of the best varieties that bloom beautifully:
- Fireball Azalea
- Honey Butter Rhododendron
- Lee’s Dark Purple Rhododendron
- Black Hat Rhododendron
- Hot Pink Reblooming Azalea
- White Reblooming Azalea
4. Begonias Flowers
If you live in USDA zones 7-11, begonias are a great flower to plant under trees.
They love the shade and reward careful care with an array of brightly colored petals. Plan to water them frequently between rainstorms so the soil stays moist.
My favorites include:
With their tiny, adorable flowers and gorgeous cluster-style growth, bergenias add height to your garden.
The majority of bergenia plants do best in zones 5-8, but hardier versions can thrive as far north as zone 4.
The leaves offer ample ground cover, so allow plenty of space under the tree.
The Pink Dragonfly Bergenia is my all time favorite.
6. Camellia Flower
One of the most beautiful flowers under trees is Camellia. They are a stunning flowering plant that features large, perfectly layered blooms.
If possible, orient the plants so they get sunlight in the morning and dappled sun in the afternoon; you might need to place them a few feet away from the tree trunk.
The most beautiful flowers grow when you plant camellias in zones 6-9.
7. Coleus Flower Plant
The coleus is remarkably vibrant, with delightful colors that last for the majority of the year.
However, these stunning plants thrive only in zone 11, so they’re ideal for a limited number of places.
Plan to remove the flower heads before they start to show — this helps the leaves become lush and lovely.
With its slim steps and small, colorful flowers, the columbine looks delicate.
It’s remarkably hardy and low-maintenance; you can let the short-lived flowers fall naturally for easy propagation under a tree.
These little flowers grow well in zones 3-8.
The Little Lanterns Columbine is rich in color and would be a nice addition to any blooming garden.
The foamflower features a tall stem and cone-shaped clusters of delicate flowers that’s hardy in zones 4-9.
In most cases, you don’t need to worry about pruning; if they start to look wilted or faded, simply trim them back.
The plants will refresh themselves with time and plenty of shade.
Cutting Edge Foamflower grows really well around trees. It’s a bit taller than others, and the blooms are gorgeous.
10. Hens and Chicks Succulent
Succulents are some of the best flowers to plant under trees — they thrive in partially shady conditions, and you can plant them as far north as zone 3 or as far south as zone 8.
These adorable green plants require minimal water and are tough enough to survive the winter.
11. Hostas In Garden
If you have a large garden under a tree, hostas are a great option.
They feature large, bright green leaves that grow easily in zones 3-9.
For the most beautiful color, choose a partially-shaded spot with slightly acidic soil and apply fertilizer once a year.
Here are a few types of hostas you may consider adding to your garden or around your trees.
12. Hydrangeas Plant Under Tree
Bring lush blooms and beautiful colors to a garden under a tree with hydrangeas.
These big, stunning blooms love slightly acidic soil and a mix of sun and shade.
They’re as tough as they are pretty; you can grow them in zones 3-9 with success.
The Penny Mac Hydrangea shown above is my personal favorite.
13. Impatiens Flowers
Impatiens are a go-to when you’re looking for flowers to plant under a tree.
Cute and colorful, they grow easily in full shade in zones 10 and 11.
As long as you water them frequently, it’s easy to maintain the moist soil they love.
Make sure the ground has adequate drainage to avoid mildew.
These are especially beautiful when used for these spilled pot flower bed ideas.
Enjoy plenty of ground cover and pops of colorful flowers with the lamium plant. It’s recommended for zones 4-8, though it looks best in zones 6-8.
For best results, choose a spot with partial or full shade and give each plant at least 12 inches of space.
Monthly fertilizer can help speed growth.
I really like the Lamium White Nancy, but you can also find the purple flowers with Ghost Lamium. Of course, there is also Lamium Purple Dragon as a great choice for your blooming garden or backyard landscaping.
15. Lysimachia Flower Plant
If your tree offers partial shade, look to the lysimachia plant.
With a planting range that extends from zone 3 to zone 10, it’s a versatile and hardy choice.
Consider staking the plants if they start to get tall; other than that, these pretty flowers require only occasional watering and trimming.
16. Milkweed Flower Plant
Tiny flowers grow in large balls on top of the milkweed plant, bringing a fun touch of texture and color to your garden.
Plant milkweed in zones 4-9, and they’ll thrive year-round.
This plant requires ample sunshine, so it’s great for gardens under small or narrow trees.
Common Milkweed is the most popular of it’s kind.
17. Mountain Laurel
Showy, unusual flowers set the mountain laurel apart — it fills your garden with life in the late spring and summer, and adds thick, green foliage the rest of the year.
Shady or partially-shaded spots promote growth, especially if the soil is moist and acidic.
Mountain laurel is best planted in zones 5-9.
There is nothing more beautiful than Olympic Fire Mountain Laurel in full bloom.
Ninebark is one of the toughest, hardiest flowers to plant under a tree. It’s ideal for cold climates, and lasts longest in zones 2-7.
The tiny flowers and richly colored leaves take care of themselves, so you can plant them and apply fertilizer once every year.
Full sun encourages the fastest growth, but you can also choose a spot with partial shade.
This Amber Jubilee Ninebark is stunning and a favorite to add added colors around your property.
19. Oregon Grape Holly
The Oregon grape holly is a uniquely beautiful plant that features bright yellow flowers and stunning blue berries.
It requires weekly watering in zones 5-9, and does best in areas with plenty of sunshine.
For the most beautiful berries, use at least two separate plants.
20. Pansies and Violets
You won’t be able to resist a smile when you see the base of your tree covered in a carpet of purple pansies and violets.
These gorgeous flowers tolerate shade but prefer the sun; consider planting them under a deciduous tree to enjoy early spring and late-fall blooms.
Pansies and violets stand up well to the temperatures in zones 4-8.
21. Pieris Japonica
Add a vibrant carpet of color to your outdoor area with the Pieris Japonica.
This tall, full plant offers the best color in full sun or partial shade in zones 5-9.
You can tuck it under a tree, but the blooms will be lighter. Make sure the soil has ample drainage
22. Pink Evening Primrose Flowers Garden
Do deer live near your house? Plant pink evening primrose flowers; deer don’t usually eat them, so the sweet pink blooms stay fresh.
Choose a part of your garden with plenty of sunlight, and water the plants occasionally.
Pink evening primrose is hardy in zones 5-9.
23. Sedum Plant
Sedum looks like a traditional flowering plant, but it’s actually a succulent.
The hardy stems and roots work well in zones 3-10, and the flowers look best when they get ample sunlight.
Look for areas with well-drained soil.
My favorites include:
- Red Carpet Sedum
- Lime Zinger Sedum
- Flaming Carpet Sedum
- SunSparkler Firecracker Sedum
- Double Martini Sedum
If you live in zones 3-7, look to the sweet snowberry plant,
With its white and light-yellow berries and dark green leaves, it pairs beautifully with colorful flowers.
Plan to prune the plants regularly and fertilize them every other year.
White Snowberry is the most common, but you may also Magic Berry Snowberry instead. Both are great choices for planting.
25. Tree Peony
With their colorful blooms and delicate petals, tree peonies bring joy and life to your yard.
They’re versatile, growing easily in a variety of shade and sunlight conditions in zones 3-9.
Plant them during the cooler days of spring or fall, and trim them once every spring.