Hostas under Pine tree?

by Judy
(Michigan, USA)

Question:


I live on the shores of Lake Huron in Port Austin, Michigan. I have a tall pine tree next to my house with a very large area underneath. I would like to plant hostas there. What type of hostas do well surrounded by pine needles in sandy soil under a pine tree?
Thanks for your help.

Answer:

Hi Judy,

From your description I am not sure whether this area is suitable for growing Hostas at all! The litter of Pine trees can be acidic. On top of that your soil is sandy which means it will dry out very quickly. The shade under conifers is can be very dry and there will be a lot of root competition under such an established tree.
Hostas like a moist soil that holds the moisture well. You might run into difficulties getting them established.
You could instead try some acid loving plants like Azaleas or dwarf Rhododendrons. They tolerate shade well and give nice color in the spring.
If your soil is very sandy you might have to incorporate some lime free soil improver/peat to make them happy though.
Another option would be ferns. Try maybe Polypodium or Polystichum.

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