Gardening question

I want to put in some kind of flowering plant in an area that formerly had a pine tree. The whole area has a layer of pine needles in various stages of decomposition. IIRC, pine needles contain something that can make it difficult for other plants to grow. I’m going to clear away that layer, but I’m worried that the soil will still be inhospitable to some flowers.

Can someone suggest a plant that will probably be okay in this situation? It’s in a spot that gets partial sun and drains well. I was thinking of cyclamen because it’s blooming now (in California), but I don’t want to put it in only to wither away.


Look for flowers that do well in acidic soil

Or treat the soil to be less acidic.

Azalea? They love acidic, well-drained soil and filtered light.

ETA: Is is a flowering shrub. Are you trying to stay small?

Pine needles are acidic - makes it difficult for plants to grow IF the plants prefer alkaline conditions - but IIRC there’s nothing specifically toxic in pine needles. They’re often used as mulch/compost around here (N. Tx) since the native soil (if you can call it that; it’s really just clay) is so alkaline.

Are you thinking of black walnut trees? They are known for having a toxic effecton plants around them.

What kind of pine tree was it? Do you know the species?

Also, cyclamen prefer cooler conditions. They’re used as winter bedding plants here in N. Tx. What part of CA are you in?

Final advice: do a Google image search for “acid loving annuals” or something along those lines, then you can see pics of what will do well in your bed.

Cyclamen can in general handle a variety of soil pH levels, including slightly acidic ones.

Just because there’s some deposition of pine needles doesn’t mean your soil will be acidic, or too acidic to grow most plants. Pine needle mulches as they decay will not have a huge effect on pH of the soil.
And pine trees do not to my knowledge have any allelopathic effects on surrounding vegetation as do walnut trees.

The biggest reason a pine kills plants is lack of water. They will suck all the water out of the soil.

I doubt you will have problems with any normal hardy plant that gets the correct sun and water.

Oh, okay. Ignorance fought. For some reason I had them filed along with eucalyptus, walnut, and oak in my admittedly eccentric mental filing system, under “things under which other things won’t grow.” Ooh, and castor too.

I’m in Oakland, SF Bay Area. It’s much warmer on the whole than SF proper.

The main place, the place where I was hoping to put a nursery plant already in bloom, is a largish wooden hexagonal-type planter box. It’s at a little old lady’s house; I work for her housemate. She obviously had a very nice Sunset Magazine ca 1970s style garden there, but it needs a little upkeep.

It is a common misconception that things don’t grow under pines because of the needles (I just learned it isn’t the case last year, and I’m in the landscape designing business). As others have said, it’s just the lack of sun and water that prevents other things growing (plus the root competition). That said, I have also learned that before you plant things, the first, most important step is preparing the bed. You want to work up the bed to loosen the soil, and make sure that it is healthy soil (not too acid or alkaline) with lots of organic material in it. After you’ve finished planting, put a good layer of mulch over the whole bed to keep the moisture in, and don’t walk on it (to keep the soil aerated).

I’d start looking for plants at your local nurseries - they should be able to steer you towards suitable plants for your area and the specific location.