Will Hostas Grow Under Maple Trees? [What to Plant Under One?]

Are you considering planting hostas under your maple tree? Deciding on a plant type to grow under your maple tree can be challenging. And since hostas are such shade-loving plants, you may consider them the ideal candidate. But will hostas grow under maple trees?

While it is possible to grow hostas under a maple tree, it will require extra care and attention due to the competition for water and nutrients. Maple trees have shallow, matted roots that soak up all the water. This may lead to the hostas dying. Hostas grow better under older maple trees or Japanese maple trees.   

Which plants will work if hostas aren’t suitable to plant under maple trees? There are some excellent candidates to place underneath a maple tree. To help you choose the best one, we’ll discuss why you shouldn’t plant hostas under a maple tree and what other plants you can consider instead.

But first, let’s look closer at the Hosta plant to better understand why it isn’t the best candidate.

Hostas Characteristics

The Hosta plantaginea, also called plantain lily, is a herbaceous perennial popular for its attractive foliage. They are native to China, Korea, and Japan and grow best in the USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 8 and sometimes in Zone 9. 

Some of the states that fall into this category are: 

  • Idaho
  • Oregon
  • Montana
  • Washington

If you don’t live in these zones, you will struggle to grow Hostas regardless of where you plant them. 

Can Hostas Grow Under Maple Trees?

The question of whether you can plant hostas under maple trees is a complex one. Most websites advise against it since maple trees have shallow roots that steal water and nutrients from other plants. 

This may lead to your hostas failing when planted beneath a maple tree. 

Still, there are plenty of success stories where people have beautiful, thriving hostas beneath their maple trees. Whether your hostas are successful when planted beneath a maple tree depends on several factors. 

The first is the type of maple tree.

Some maple trees, like Japanese maple trees, have a deeper root system that won’t suffocate your hostas as much. This means you can safely plant hostas under Japanese maple trees, and they will get the nutrients and water required to thrive. 

Another factor that influences the success of your hostas beneath maple trees is the age of the maple tree. 

Young maple trees require more water and nutrients. As a result, they have more shallow roots that could suffocate any hostas planted beneath them. 

But older maple trees have more established roots. They have fewer shallow roots and leave more soil and moisture for other plants, like hostas. So, planting hostas beneath a maple tree comes with some risks. 

If your maple tree is older and has a deeper root system, your hostas will have a better chance of thriving.

To determine if hostas can grow under the maple tree, examine how many shallow roots there are when digging a hole to plant the hostas. 

If the soil beneath the maple tree is matted with fibrous, shallow roots, there is a good chance that these roots will suffocate the hostas. But, if there is sufficient open soil and moisture beneath the maple tree, your hostas may survive. 

What To Plant Under A Maple Tree

Despite several success stories, planting hostas under a maple tree is risky. If your hostas don’t survive under the maple, consider moving them to another shaded location. 

Also, consider another plant if you don’t want to risk losing your hostas when planting them beneath a maple tree. 

Which plants are better suited for planting beneath a maple tree? 

Ideally, you should look for a shade-loving, drought-resistant plant since it may not get much moisture when competing with the maple tree’s roots. 

Fortunately, there are a few plants that are both shade-loving and drought-resistant. Here are 6 such examples. 

1. Lily Of The Valley

Lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) is a flowering plant with shallow rhizomes. It serves as an excellent ground cover when planted beneath a maple tree. A lily of the valley loves shade and prefers moist soil, so you must ensure there is enough water to go around. 

Because of their shallow rhizomes, lily of the valley plants don’t mind sharing their space with other roots. This makes them perfect companions for maple trees. 

2. Ferns

Many ferns also grow well beneath maple trees. For example, a Japanese painted fern (Athyrium niponicum) loves being planted beneath a tree that provides plenty of shade. Ferns also have shallow roots that make them ideal companions for maple trees. 

Ferns are also generally drought resistant, meaning they won’t suffocate as quickly when planted beneath a maple tree. 

3. Tulips

Tulips (Liliaceae tulipa) are bulb plants that grow well under maple trees. Tulips prefer partial shade in the spring, which a maple provides as its leaves are still coming in after winter. 

The bulbs don’t require too much soil to thrive, meaning tulips don’t mind a maple tree’s root system.

Tulips are also reasonably drought resistant, though you should ensure they get some water and nutrients to thrive and flower properly. 

4. Daffodils

Daffodils (Amaryllidaceae narcissus), like tulips, are bulb flowers that prefer full shade and need relatively little soil to thrive. Daffodils grow well under maple trees since they require little soil and are drought-resistant. 

Don’t plant daffodils too close to each other, and place them a bit further away from the maple tree trunk, so they have sufficient space to grow. 

5. Violets

Sweet violet (Viola odorata) is a shade-loving ground cover plant with beautiful flowers and leaves. Because sweet violets are shade-loving, they flourish under maple trees. Sweet violets are excellent companions for maple trees since they have shallow roots and cover the open area beneath a maple tree. 

Their shallow roots also mean they are okay competing with maple tree roots for soil. Furthermore, they are relatively drought resistant. 

6. Canadian Wild Ginger

Canadian wild ginger (Asarum canadense) is another ground cover plant that thrives in full-shade environments. This ground cover plant is ideal for planting beneath a maple tree since it grows low to the ground and flourishes in full shade. 

Canadian wild ginger prefers a moist environment, so you should ensure enough water for it and the maple tree. 

Tips For Growing Plants Under A Maple Tree

Regardless of the type of plants you want to grow under a maple tree, be it hostas or others, there are some tips and tricks to help the companion plant succeed. 

Although many of the plants listed above are drought-resistant, you should still ensure they receive enough water and nutrients to flourish beneath the maple tree. Here are some tips for growing plants under a maple tree:

Install sprinklers around the tree to ensure sufficient moisture for the maple and companion plants.

Add enough fertilizer and compost to the soil beneath the tree when planting the companion plants and throughout the growing season.

Inspect the number of shallow roots beneath the maple tree to ensure sufficient soil for the companion plants.

If plants don’t survive beneath a maple tree because there isn’t enough soil or water, consider raised garden beds or pots for the companion plants. This can ensure the companion plants receive enough water and soil while covering the bare earth beneath the maple tree. 

Final Word

It’s important to note that the success of planting hostas under maple trees depends on several factors, including light conditions, soil quality, and water availability. 

Hostas thrive in partial to full shade, and if the area receives two hours of sun throughout the day, they should be able to grow well. 

However, it’s important to avoid planting hostas under maple trees that receive hot afternoon temperatures. Some hostas grow well beneath maple trees, while others are suffocated by the maple tree’s shallow roots. 

Plants that grow well beneath maple trees include Canadian wild ginger, violets, and daffodils. These plants love the shade and are relatively drought resistant. 

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