In summer, coniferous trees such as spruce and fir trees provide pleasant shade in your own garden and exude an unmistakable, resinous scent, but they pose a challenge for the rest of the vegetation. Often the garden areas lie fallow under the coniferous plants, which creates a rather desolate impression. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Anyone in the know knows that numerous colorful flowering plants and impressive plants thrive even under difficult conditions at the foot of the conifers.

underplanting requirements

Not every plant can adapt to the changed soil conditions under conifers. Spruce, fir, pine and Co. extract many nutrients and water from the earth for their own needs. In addition, the dense crown means that little light reaches the ground. This is traversed by extensive root systems, which make it difficult to develop your own root. Finally, the falling needles change the pH of the soil into a slightly acidic range. Therefore, only plants with the following properties are suitable for underplanting conifers:

  • little light requirement
  • growing on dry soil
  • growing on acidic soil
  • also shallow rooted

Suitable underplanting for conifers

The following plants are extremely undemanding to their environmental conditions. They grow in all places and have also proven themselves for planting under firs and spruces.

Beetrose (Beautiful)

When the easy-care bed rose opens its delicate pink blossom, there is an impressive contrast to the dark foliage of the conifers.

Bergenie (Bergenia)

The Bergenia produces flowers in all shades of red. Whether soft pink, bright red or innocent white, the combination of all variants looks best. However, in order for their flowers to add color to the conifers, the Bergenia needs at least partial shade. In any case, a few rays of sunshine should fall on them.

Bee Friend (Phacelia)

The bee friend blooms in light violet and ensures a lot of activity under the coniferous trees. Not only bees literally fly to the plant. Butterflies also like to use the nectar of the flowers. The bee friend is varied in two senses. It is an annual plant that can be changed at will after flowering.

Fünffingerstrauch (Potentilla fruticosa)

In shady corners, the five-fingered shrub brings color into the dark. Its flowers, which can be either white or yellow, make the garden look friendlier. The combination of both flower colors is also recommended.

Spierstrauch(Spiraea chamaedryfolia)

Spiraea grows a little taller than the other plants mentioned. Ideally, he can climb up a nearby fence. If the conifers are on the property line, the spirea also serves as a privacy screen.

Zwergginster (Chamaecytisus)

The ground cover not only flowers in yellow, but also comes in white or pink. Condition, however, is a little sunlight as with the Bergenia.

Zwergmispel (Cotoneaster)

The cotoneaster is an evergreen ground cover. It draws attention to itself with intense red fruits.

Forest perennials and grasses

In the forest, the following forest shrubs and grasses have long since adapted to the soil conditions under firs and spruces. They are therefore also ideal for planting under conifers in private gardens.

Bearskin fescue (Festuca gautieri)

The spherically growing grass is satisfied with dry soil. When planting underneath, you only have to pay attention to a strong fertilizer application.

Stork Beak (Geranium)

The groundcover comes in different varieties, but when buying it is important to make sure that it is not a species that needs to be in the sun. With the right choice, the cranesbill delights with purple or pink flowers.

Waldschmiele (Deschampsia caespitosa)

This hardy plant also proves to be extremely undemanding. All that is required is a vigorous pruning, so that the plant does not reach its maximum growth height of 1.2 meters.

Make it

They are easy to care for and reward the gardener with a touch of the exotic: ferns. Fortunately, there are many different types.


Succulents also need a little sun, but otherwise have hardly any demands on care.

Dachwurz (Sempervivum)

With the right choice of location, the rosette-shaped roofing root rewards underplanting with a flower.

Mauerpfeffer (Sedum acre)

The stonecrop is only suitable for underplanting outside of the shade of the canopy, as it needs light to keep its colour.

Tip: Succulents are particularly suitable for inexperienced gardeners due to the low maintenance requirements.

Alpine Steingartenpflanzen

Alpine plants are often found as ground covers in rock gardens, but they are also wonderful for planting under conifers. They thrive best with some light. However, this aspect is not a must.

Tip: Anyone who is unsure which plants are suitable for planting under fir and spruce trees is best guided by the forest. Plants that thrive there under conifers also grow in private gardens.

Underplanting after flowering

If you want to ensure permanent color accents under conifers with an underplanting, it is best to plan with plants that bloom at different times:

March to April

  • Cashmere Bergenie

June to September

September and October

  • Eisenhut

The appropriate season

The best time for underplanting conifers is late summer. At this point, the trees are no longer drawing too much water from the soil. In addition, the flowers have enough time before the first frosts to develop a strong root system.

Procedure for planting

  • Loosen the soil with a digging fork (do not use a spade to avoid damaging roots)
  • mark root-free areas
  • dig a small planting hole
  • Work in a layer of compost about three centimeters deep
  • Place underplanting in the ground
  • water well
  • Fertilize the surface of the soil with leaves, clippings or bark mulch

The soil moisture determines the radius

Coniferous trees, such as firs and spruces, extract a lot of water from the soil for their own use. The soil closest to the trunk is the driest. The gardener should adapt the underplanting to this type of soil.

Grow directly on the trunk:

  • different species of cranesbill
  • Golderdbeer
  • elephantblume
  • ivy
  • small periwinkle
  • Forest Aster

Further out we recommend:

Note: Not only the location requirements of the underplanting are decisive. Choosing the right substrate is just as important. Conventional garden soil does not provide enough nutrients and is exhausted after a short time. Mulch, on the other hand, is particularly rich in content and can be produced inexpensively yourself (e.g. from old hedge trimmings).

Use the discarded needles

When the conifers shed their leaves in winter, it is usually not necessary to collect them. On the one hand, the underplanting mentioned has adapted to the acidic pH value of the soil. On the other hand, the fir and spruce leaves serve as natural winter protection.

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