The soil under my pines is very “rroty” and undiggable. Hostas thrive, but the roses don’t flower, the phlox and mock orrange have died. Can I add soil (2-3 inches) in those spots whre roots are not showing above ground in order to plant more shade-loving perennials? This is how the plot was found when we moved in. thanks!

Thanks for the question. I’m not surprised that the hosta are the only plant doing well under the pines. Roses, mockorange and phlox all need as much direct as possible to thrive and flower…10 hours of DIRECT SUN…not just a bright location. I find that people tend to overestimate the amount of sun they are getting (wishful thinking I guess.The other problem is that, under evergreen like pines, the soil becomes acidic more quickly than out in the open part of the yard. To correct that, you’ll need to check the ph of the soil with a ph test kit (very easy) and apply the amount of lime that the test indicates you need. Yes, you can add some soil to the area but make sure you don’t pile the soil up against the trunk of the pines since that can harm them. Finally, make sure that you choose plants that can thrive in shade. Hostas of course, ferns, huechera, tiarella, myrtle, hecherella, lamium and ladies mantle are a few that pop to mind. Do a search for ‘shade plants”‘ and you’ll find lots more suggestions…just make sure they are hardy for our zone, zone 5. Naturally, once spring arrives, the folks at Hewitt’s can help you pick out the right plants as well. Have fun! Peter Bowden

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