Growing plants under trees can be challenging. Sprawling roots deprive neighbouring plants of water and nutrients, making the soil dry, even barren. And a canopy can cast deep shade, making it hard for plants underneath to photosynthesise and grow. So, what can you do? How about turning to plants that have adapted naturally to growing in these difficult conditions. Here are three top plants to grow under trees:
Bromeliads There are hundreds of bromeliads to choose from, including tiny earth stars (Cryptanthus spp.), right up to the giant Alcantarea species. Many grow as understorey plants in the wild. Billbergia, Vriesea, Aechmea, Neoregelia and Alcantarea species will also cope with cold conditions.
Bird’s-nest fern (Asplenium nidus, A. australasicum) A native epiphyte that adds elegance and a lush tropical vibe. Leaves on the cultivars ‘Crispy Wave’ and ‘Victoria’ have attractive ruffled edges. Best in shade or semi-shade.
Clivia (Clivia miniata) This is one of the all-time classics for growing in dry shade. This bulbous plant with fleshy roots laughs at these conditions, and it rewards gardeners with brilliant orange and yellow flowers in spring.