The white oak tree, known botanically as quercus alba, is a large deciduous shade tree that sports red foliage color and acorns in the fall. It thrives in nutrient-rich, moist and well-drained soil. Underplanting white oak trees with flowering plants can be done successfully, provided a few guidelines are observed. The first is to disturb the soil as little and infrequently as possible. The second is to select flowering plants that thrive in the same soil conditions as the white oak and can tolerate the woodland garden conditions that the oak branching and foliage provide.
Flowering perennial plants will provide long season or nearly year-round greenery in some climates. On top of that, they bring seasonal and sometimes multi-seasonal bloom. These plants are larger than bulbs and groundcovers at maturity and will create a much thicker underplanting bed. Flowering perennials to consider for under your white oak include: jack-in-the-pulpit, astilbe, heuchera, bleeding heart, hosta, creeping lily, primroses and pulmonaria.
Spring and summer flowering bulbs are another option for placement under white oak trees. While most will not provide year-round foliage and will need to be cut back or mulched over in the late summer, the dramatic bloom period can make up for those shortcomings. Consider planting anemone, crocuses, grape hyacinth, daffodils and scilla bulbs for under your white oak tree.
Groundcover plants will provide a carpet effect under your white oak tree. While the plants themselves as well as the flowers are smaller than other perennials, they will transplant into the soil around the tree with very little disturbance to the roots and establish themselves quickly. Some flowering groundcover plants to consider are: snow on the mountain, ajuga, lily of the valley, sweet woodruff, pachysandra, vinca and violas.
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