Beneath Oak Trees

I live in Forestville, CA.  Can you recommend shrubs and flowers that will grow under the shade of our large oak trees? I don’t want to plant anything that will interfere with the trees’ roots.

Lack of light and lack of moisture are key limitations facing any plants growing under large trees.  Look for plants that tolerate dry shade and are hardy to your location.  Avoid excess digging and watering under the tree canopy.  These practices can damage the lovely oak tree you are trying to enhance. In western gardens consider planting shrubs such as Manzanita, Darwin barberry, rockrose, bush anemone, Grevillea, wild lilac (Ceanothus), silk tassel, Mahonia, Myrica, oleander, plumbago, currant, and germander.  Groundcovers such as rosemary, wild strawberry, Correa, and cotoneaster will tolerate these conditions.  Bergenia, California wood fern, Santa Barbara daisy, daylily, coral bells, evening primrose, sedum, thyme and California fuchsia are a few perennials worth trying.  Plant the more sun loving plants near the drip line and shade tolerant plants under the canopy to provide the preferred amount of light.

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