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41 Best Plants for Under Maple Trees (Proven To Thrive)

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Written By Sophia Martinez

Organic & Sustainable Gardening Enthusiast

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Home » Companion Plants » 41 Best Plants for Under Maple Trees (Proven To Thrive)

Lets be real, there are many different types of Maple trees, and each grows to a different size with different root structures and needs.

These plants below have been successfully planted under Maples by many gardeners.

Find the perfect options for your garden and planting zone!

Beautiful & Reliable Plants to Grow Under A Maple Tree

1. Crocus

A herald of spring, Crocuses burst through the leaf litter under Maple trees with their cheerful cup-shaped flowers.

These early bloomers are ideal for adding a pop of color in late winter to early spring, signaling warmer days ahead with their variety of hues.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 3-8
  • Blooming Duration: Weeks
  • Blooming Period: Late Winter to Early Spring
  • Average Mature Size: 3-6 inches tall, spreading
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Crocus spp.

2. Bigroot Geranium

Known for its aromatic leaves and clusters of pink to white flowers, Geranium macrorrhizum is a great ground cover that thrives in the shade of Maple trees.

This hardy Geranium is drought-tolerant once established, making it an excellent choice for low-maintenance gardens.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 3-8
  • Blooming Duration: Weeks
  • Blooming Period: Late Spring to Early Summer
  • Average Mature Size: 12-18 inches tall, spreading
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Geranium macrorrhizum

3. Sacred Bamboo

Offering year-round interest with its colorful foliage and bright berries, Nandina domestica is surprisingly adaptable under Maple trees.

Known as Heavenly bamboo, it provides texture and color even in the dry shade of maples.

Perfect for adding a splash of low-maintenance beauty to your garden’s shadier spots.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 6-9
  • Blooming Duration: Weeks
  • Blooming Period: Spring to Summer
  • Average Mature Size: 4-8 feet tall, 2-4 feet wide
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Nandina domestica

4. Hemerocallis (Smaller Varieties)

These smaller varieties of Daylilies are a solid choice for underplanting beneath Maples, thriving despite the tough conditions.

They burst into color in summer, bringing vibrant life to shadowed garden areas.

Easy to grow, they’re a favorite among gardeners for their reliability and striking blooms.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 3-9
  • Blooming Duration: Months
  • Blooming Period: Summer
  • Average Mature Size: 1-2 feet tall, 1-2 feet wide
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Hemerocallis spp.

5. Creeping Phlox

Phlox stolonifera spreads a fragrant carpet of pink or white flowers each spring, thriving in the moist, shaded soil found under Maple trees.

This Creeping Phlox is perfect for adding a burst of color to the garden’s understory, attracting pollinators with its vibrant display.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 4-8
  • Blooming Duration: Weeks
  • Blooming Period: Spring
  • Average Mature Size: 6-12 inches tall, spreading
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Phlox stolonifera

6. Barberry

Thriving in partial to full shade, Berberis, or Barberry, introduces striking foliage and thorny stems that deter garden pests.

Its tolerance for dry and shady conditions makes it an excellent companion for Maple trees.

This plant adds a defensive charm to any garden, with its vibrant leaves changing colors throughout the seasons.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 4-8
  • Blooming Duration: Weeks
  • Blooming Period: Spring
  • Average Mature Size: 2-6 feet tall, 2-6 feet wide
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Berberis spp.

7. Barrenwort

Known as fairy wings or bishop’s hat, Epimedium spreads a carpet of heart-shaped leaves and dainty flowers under Maple canopies.

It’s highly prized for its drought tolerance once established and its ability to thrive in the challenging conditions of dry shade.

A perfect ground cover that also offers varied foliage colors across seasons.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 5-9
  • Blooming Duration: Weeks
  • Blooming Period: Spring
  • Average Mature Size: 8-12 inches tall, spreading
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Epimedium spp.

8. Foam flower

Foam flower is a charming North American native that produces masses of delicate, star-shaped white flowers in spring.

Its ability to form dense mats of foliage makes it ideal for softening garden floors under Maple trees, where it enjoys the cool, moist environment.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 3-8
  • Blooming Duration: Weeks
  • Blooming Period: Spring
  • Average Mature Size: 6-12 inches tall, spreading
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Tiarella cordifolia

9. Japanese Forest Grass

Offering a cascade of graceful, flowing foliage, Japanese Forest Grass is perfect for adding soft texture and vibrant color, especially in varieties like ‘Aureola’ with its striking golden stripes.

It thrives in the partial shade and moist soil under Maple trees, providing movement and beauty with its swaying leaves.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 5-9
  • Blooming Duration: Non-flowering
  • Blooming Period: Non-flowering
  • Average Mature Size: 1-2 feet tall, 1-2 feet wide
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Hakonechloa macra

10. Periwinkle

Vinca minor, commonly known as Periwinkle, excels in spreading a lush carpet of green under maple trees, punctuated by charming blue flowers in spring.

It’s a go-to ground cover for difficult areas due to its robust nature and ability to thrive in less than ideal conditions.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 4-8
  • Blooming Duration: Months
  • Blooming Period: Spring to Summer
  • Average Mature Size: 4-6 inches tall, spreading widely
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Vinca minor

11. Sweet Woodruff

Ideal for adding a touch of whimsy, Gallium, often known as Sweet Woodruff, is valued for its star-shaped flowers and sweet scent.

It thrives in the cooler, shaded spots beneath Maple trees, creating a delicate understory that’s both attractive and aromatic.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 4-8
  • Blooming Duration: Weeks
  • Blooming Period: Late Spring to Early Summer
  • Average Mature Size: 6-12 inches tall, 12-18 inches wide
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Gallium odoratum

12. Celandine Poppy

Brighten up the shadows under Maple trees with Stylophorum, or Celandine Poppy.

This plant delights with its vibrant yellow flowers in early spring, offering a cheerful contrast to darker areas.

It’s a self-seeding perennial that fills the garden with color and charm effortlessly.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 4-8
  • Blooming Duration: Weeks
  • Blooming Period: Spring
  • Average Mature Size: 12-18 inches tall, 12-18 inches wide
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Stylophorum diphyllum

13. Goutweed

Known as Bishop’s Weed or Goutweed, Aegopodium is a vigorous ground cover that can handle the tough conditions under Maples.

Its variegated forms brighten shady spots with splashes of white and green, making it a popular choice for filling expansive areas where other plants might struggle.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 4-9
  • Blooming Duration: Weeks
  • Blooming Period: Early Summer
  • Average Mature Size: 8-12 inches tall, spreading indefinitely
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Aegopodium podagraria

14. Hydrangea ‘Pee Wee’

Compact and perfect for smaller spaces, ‘Pee Wee’ offers the classic beauty of Oakleaf Hydrangea with scaled-down proportions.

This variety shines under Maple trees, with striking fall foliage and large, conical flower clusters that evolve from white to a rich pink as the season progresses.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 5-9
  • Blooming Duration: Months
  • Blooming Period: Summer
  • Average Mature Size: 3-4 feet tall, 3-4 feet wide
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Pee Wee’

15. Abelia ‘Edward Goucher’

Abelia ‘Edward Goucher’ graces the garden with its arching branches of lilac-pink blooms and glossy leaves.

It’s particularly effective under Maple trees, providing a long blooming period and semi-evergreen foliage that offers visual interest almost year-round.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 6-9
  • Blooming Duration: Months
  • Blooming Period: Summer to Fall
  • Average Mature Size: 3-5 feet tall, 3-5 feet wide
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Abelia x grandiflora ‘Edward Goucher’

16. Solomon’s Seal

Graceful and elegant, Solomon’s Seal adds architectural interest to any garden with its arching stems and dangling, bell-shaped flowers.

It excels under Maple trees, thriving in the moist, shaded soil where its foliage turns a golden yellow in the fall, enhancing the understory’s visual appeal.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 3-8
  • Blooming Duration: Weeks
  • Blooming Period: Spring
  • Average Mature Size: 1-3 feet tall, 1-2 feet wide
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Polygonatum spp.

17. Agastache Honey Bee Blue

Agastache Honey Bee Blue (Agastache foeniculum 'Honey Bee Blue')

Agastache ‘Honey Bee Blue’ is an attractant for pollinators, with its spikes of lavender-blue flowers that thrive even in the challenging conditions beneath Maple trees.

Its minty aroma and resilient nature make it a standout addition, offering a touch of wildness and color to shaded gardens.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 5-10
  • Blooming Duration: Months
  • Blooming Period: Summer to Fall
  • Average Mature Size: 2-3 feet tall, 1-2 feet wide
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Agastache foeniculum ‘Honey Bee Blue’

18. Honesty

Honesty, with its quaint, translucent seed pods and early spring blooms, brings a unique visual texture to garden spaces under Maples.

This biennial is admired for its ability to self-seed and fill garden nooks with minimal effort, offering both color and intriguing seed pods that persist into winter.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 4-8
  • Blooming Duration: Weeks
  • Blooming Period: Spring
  • Average Mature Size: 1-3 feet tall, 1 foot wide
  • Annual or Perennial: Biennial
  • Botanical Name: Lunaria annua

19. Violas

Charming and cheerful, Violas light up the garden with their prolific, vibrant blossoms throughout cooler months.

These tough little flowers are ideal for brightening the dense shade under Maples, offering a delightful splash of color in spring and fall when many other plants are dormant.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 4-8
  • Blooming Duration: Months
  • Blooming Period: Spring and Fall
  • Average Mature Size: 6-12 inches tall, 6-12 inches wide
  • Annual or Perennial: Annual or perennial depending on the variety
  • Botanical Name: Viola spp.

20. Bugleweed

Ajuga, also known as Bugleweed, forms dense mats of glossy leaves and spikes of blue flowers, thriving even in the competitive environment under Maples.

It’s a fantastic ground cover that offers both aesthetic appeal and durability, spreading quickly to fill in gaps and reduce weeding.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 3-10
  • Blooming Duration: Weeks
  • Blooming Period: Spring
  • Average Mature Size: 4-6 inches tall, spreading
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Ajuga reptans

21. Gloriosa Daisies

Gloriosa Daisies, also called Black-Eyed Susan, light up the garden with their bold, yellow flowers and dark brown centers, thriving under the partial shade of Maple trees.

These hardy perennials bring a splash of summer color and attract pollinators, adding vibrancy and biodiversity to your garden.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 3-7
  • Blooming Duration: Months
  • Blooming Period: Summer to Fall
  • Average Mature Size: 2-3 feet tall, 1-2 feet wide
  • Annual or Perennial: Biennial or short-lived perennial
  • Botanical Name: Rudbeckia hirta

22. French strawberries

French strawberries, or fraises des bois, offer delightful little fruits and charming white blooms under the canopy of Maple trees.

This perennial is as decorative as it is tasty, providing a continuous crop of sweet, aromatic berries throughout the growing season.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 5-9
  • Blooming Duration: Months
  • Blooming Period: Spring to Fall
  • Average Mature Size: 6-12 inches tall, spreading
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Fragaria vesca

23. Coral bells

Coral Bells charm with their spectacular foliage and delicate bell-shaped flowers, making them a fantastic addition to shaded areas under Maples.

Available in a variety of colors from lime green to deep burgundy, they add a splash of color all season long and are a favorite for both ground cover and accent planting.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 4-9
  • Blooming Duration: Weeks
  • Blooming Period: Spring to Early Summer
  • Average Mature Size: 12-18 inches tall, 12-24 inches wide
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Heuchera spp.

24. Spiderwort

Thriving in partial shade, Spiderwort pops with tri-petal flowers ranging from blue to purple, which contrast beautifully against its grass-like foliage.

This resilient perennial adapts well to a variety of soil conditions under maples and is known for its ability to bloom profusely even in less-than-ideal conditions.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 4-9
  • Blooming Duration: Months
  • Blooming Period: Late Spring to Mid-Summer
  • Average Mature Size: 12-18 inches tall, 12-18 inches wide
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Tradescantia spp.

25. Hostas

Hostas are the quintessential shade garden plant, thriving under Maple trees with their lush foliage in various shades of green, blue, and variegated patterns.

They are prized for their durability and minimal care requirements, making them ideal for underplanting where other plants might struggle.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 3-9
  • Blooming Duration: Weeks
  • Blooming Period: Summer
  • Average Mature Size: 1-3 feet tall, 2-4 feet wide depending on variety
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Hosta spp.

26. Mahonias

Adding year-round interest, Mahonias feature holly-like evergreen leaves and bright blooms that turn into grape-like blue berries.

Perfect for partial shade under Maples, they offer an elegant texture and durability.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 5-9
  • Blooming Duration: Weeks
  • Blooming Period: Late Fall to Winter
  • Average Mature Size: 3-10 feet tall, 3-10 feet wide depending on variety
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Mahonia spp.

27. Lilies of the Valley

Delicate and sweetly scented white bells make Lilies of the Valley a charming choice for shady areas under Maple trees.

This vigorous perennial spreads quickly, creating a fragrant, dense carpet in late spring.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 2-7
  • Blooming Duration: Weeks
  • Blooming Period: Late Spring
  • Average Mature Size: 6-12 inches tall, spreading
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Convallaria majalis

28. Siberian Squill

Known for its stunning early spring blue flowers, Siberian Squill naturalizes beautifully under Maple trees, creating a vivid undergrowth.

This hardy bulb thrives with minimal care, brightening the garden’s understory as soon as the snow melts.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 2-8
  • Blooming Duration: Weeks
  • Blooming Period: Early Spring
  • Average Mature Size: 4-6 inches tall, spreading
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Scilla siberica

29. Hyacinth Bulbs

Spring is ushered in with the rich, fragrant blooms of Hyacinth Bulbs, creating a stunning display under the shade of Maple trees.

These bulbs are easy to grow and come in a variety of colors, making them a favorite for early spring beauty.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 4-8
  • Blooming Duration: Weeks
  • Blooming Period: Early Spring
  • Average Mature Size: 6-12 inches tall
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Hyacinthus orientalis

30. Ostrich Fern

Adding a prehistoric flair to any garden, Ostrich Ferns feature large, feathery fronds that thrive in the moist, shaded soil beneath Maple trees.

This fern spreads quickly, providing lush greenery and a dramatic texture.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 3-7
  • Blooming Duration: Non-flowering
  • Blooming Period: Non-flowering
  • Average Mature Size: 3-6 feet tall, spreading
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Matteuccia struthiopteris

31. Columbine

With its uniquely shaped flowers that attract hummingbirds, Columbine thrives in the dappled sunlight under Maple trees.

This perennial is known for its resilience and ability to self-seed, offering delightful blooms from spring to early summer.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 3-8
  • Blooming Duration: Weeks
  • Blooming Period: Spring to Early Summer
  • Average Mature Size: 1-3 feet tall, 1-2 feet wide
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Aquilegia spp.

32. Clethra ‘Hummingbird’

Chosen for its compact form and sweetly scented white flowers, Summersweet, or Clethra ‘Hummingbird’ is ideal for underplanting beneath maple trees.

This shrub attracts pollinators while adapting well to the shaded conditions, blooming reliably every summer.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 4-9
  • Blooming Duration: Months
  • Blooming Period: Summer
  • Average Mature Size: 3-4 feet tall, 3-4 feet wide
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Clethra alnifolia ‘Hummingbird’

33. Bugbane

Ideal for adding height and drama under Maple trees, Bugbane boasts tall spires of white or pinkish flowers that rise above its dark foliage in late summer.

This perennial is perfect for shaded garden corners, offering both aesthetic appeal and a pleasant fragrance.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 3-8
  • Blooming Duration: Weeks
  • Blooming Period: Late Summer to Early Fall
  • Average Mature Size: 4-6 feet tall, 2-4 feet wide
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Actaea simplex

34. Catmint

Adored for its long-lasting lavender-blue flowers, Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ is a drought-tolerant perennial that flourishes even under the dry shade of Maple trees.

Its aromatic foliage keeps pests at bay, making it not only beautiful but practical.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 3-8
  • Blooming Duration: Months
  • Blooming Period: Late Spring to Early Fall
  • Average Mature Size: 18-24 inches tall, 18-24 inches wide
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Nepeta racemosa ‘Walker’s Low’

35. Purpletop Vervain

With its tall, slender stems topped with clusters of lavender flowers, Verbena bonariensis brings a touch of whimsy and movement to garden spaces beneath Maple trees.

This perennial self-seeds prolifically, ensuring a display of blooms year after year.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 7-11
  • Blooming Duration: Months
  • Blooming Period: Summer to Frost
  • Average Mature Size: 3-6 feet tall, 1-3 feet wide
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial in warmer zones, often grown as an annual in colder climates
  • Botanical Name: Verbena bonariensis

36. Red Baneberry

Known as Red Baneberry, Actaea rubra brings a touch of intrigue with its delicate white flowers followed by striking red berries.

It thrives in the cooler, shaded conditions provided by Maple trees, adding a dramatic flair to the understory with its toxic, yet visually captivating, fruits.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 3-7
  • Blooming Duration: Weeks
  • Blooming Period: Spring
  • Average Mature Size: 1-3 feet tall, 1-2 feet wide
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Actaea rubra

37. Wood spurge

With its evergreen foliage and yellow-green flowers, Wood Spurge is a sturdy ground cover that adapts well to the dry shade under Maple trees.

Its resilient nature and year-round interest make it a valuable addition to any shaded garden palette.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 4-9
  • Blooming Duration: Weeks
  • Blooming Period: Spring
  • Average Mature Size: 1-2 feet tall, 1-2 feet wide
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Euphorbia amygdaloides

38. Hellebores

Known for their early blooms, Hellebores are perfect for extending the garden season, flowering even in the snow.

These hardy perennials are beloved for their shade tolerance and varied, often subtly colored flowers, making them a staple in the understory beneath Maple trees.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 4-9
  • Blooming Duration: Months
  • Blooming Period: Winter to Early Spring
  • Average Mature Size: 18-24 inches tall, 18-24 inches wide
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Helleborus spp.

39. Tree peony

Tree Peonies bring a touch of elegance with their large, exquisite blooms that appear in late spring.

While they prefer a bit of sunlight, they can adapt to the filtered light under Maple trees, offering a spectacular display of colors ranging from whites and pinks to deep burgundy.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 4-8
  • Blooming Duration: Weeks
  • Blooming Period: Spring
  • Average Mature Size: 4-7 feet tall, 4-6 feet wide
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Paeonia suffruticosa

40. Gray Twig Dogwood

Also known as Cornus racemosa, Gray Dogwood is a native shrub that excels in the understory of Maple trees.

It’s valued for its wildlife-friendly attributes, featuring white spring flowers, bluish-white berries, and red stem color in the winter, enhancing ecological diversity under maples.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 3-8
  • Blooming Duration: Weeks
  • Blooming Period: Spring
  • Average Mature Size: 10-15 feet tall, 10-15 feet wide
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Cornus racemosa

41. European Ginger

With its glossy, heart-shaped leaves, European Ginger is a sophisticated choice for ground cover under Maples.

It thrives in the deep shade where few other plants dare, offering a lush, evergreen carpet that’s as ornamental as it is durable.

  • USDA Growing Zone: 4-7
  • Blooming Duration: Weeks
  • Blooming Period: Spring
  • Average Mature Size: 6 inches tall, spreading slowly
  • Annual or Perennial: Perennial
  • Botanical Name: Asarum europaeum

Growing Plants Under Maple Trees Successfully

Consider the Maple Species

The type of maple significantly affects the underplanting success. Different Maples have varying root system aggressiveness and tolerance for root zone disturbance.

Planting Technique

Plant at the same time as the tree if possible, allowing both tree and underplants to establish without competition.

If the tree is already established, avoid planting close to the trunk, especially in areas dense with feeder roots. Instead, focus on the area near or beyond the drip line.

Soil and Moisture Management

Select drought-tolerant plants since Maple roots aggressively compete for moisture.

Avoid fertilizing and instead focus on general watering to support the overall ecosystem beneath the Maple canopy.

Maintenance

Some plants may require control as they establish (e.g., Vinca and Ajuga). Re-seeding plants like Verbena may need thinning to prevent overcrowding.

Innovative Solutions for Difficult Areas

For challenging areas with intense root competition or poor soil conditions, consider planting in buried pots to give annuals and less competitive plants a better growing environment.

Want More?

If you found it interesting to discover plants that flourish under Maple trees, you might also enjoy exploring options for flowering plants suitable for tree undergrowth, species that thrive under oak trees, or those that prosper in full-sun conditions beneath tree canopies.

Photo of author

Sophia Martinez

Organic & Sustainable Gardening Enthusiast

Sophia has cultivated her gardening skills over the past decade, focusing on the care of both ornamental and fruit-bearing trees. Her deep understanding of sustainable gardening practices stems from a lifelong passion for nature and plant life. Beyond her professional life, Sophia spends her leisure time engaged with the natural world. She enjoys birdwatching and nature photography, capturing the intricate beauty of the ecosystems around her.