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I have three large Austrian Pine trees that I would like to xeriscape under. Do you have suggestions for low-water use plants that will grow in mostly shady conditions under pine trees?

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A

The "real" answer you won't want to hear:  trees don't like anything planted under them that will compete with them and eat their nutrients and drink their water.  They would prefer a bark mulch out as far as the dripline and would like to be left alone. However, if you insist on putting plants under your Austrian Pines, you will have to pick plants that do not need to be watered more than one time a month when it's hot, so that they match the watering needs of your pines.
http://waterwiseplants.utah.gov/default.asp?p=PlantInfo&Plant=13&Cart=

They will have to tolerate shade, and you will have to plant "plants" rather than seeds because the seeds can't  erminate without light. Perhaps our native Mahonia repens (height: about 1 1/2 to 2 feet)-Creeping Oregon Grape would do well.
http://waterwiseplants.utah.gov/default.asp?p=PlantInfo&Plant=274&Cart=

Or maybe the  (Symphoricarpos utahensis Rydb.)- 2-4 feet in height (up to 5').
http://waterwiseplants.utah.gov/default.asp?p=PlantInfo&Plant=108&Cart=M
ountain Snowberry- Symphoricarpos oreophilus A. Gray

The Pines and these shrubs should be watered one time a month.

I would check out the website: www.waterwiseplants.utah.gov    and also www.utahschoice.org

Posted on 15 Aug 2007

Julia Tuck
Horticulture Assistant, Utah county

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