What to plant with Carya – Hickories

Companion Planting with Carya – Hickories


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Carya, commonly known as hickories, are deciduous trees that are valued for their attractive, compound leaves, nuts, and strong, durable wood. They can be an excellent addition to a large landscape or woodland garden. When selecting companion plants for hickories, consider the following options:

Understory trees and large shrubs: Plant species like Cornus (dogwood), Amelanchier (serviceberry), Hamamelis (witch hazel), or Viburnum can add diversity and provide seasonal interest beneath the hickory canopy.

Shade-tolerant perennials: Select perennials that thrive in dappled shade or part sun, such as Hosta, Heuchera (coral bells), Helleborus (Lenten rose), or Geranium macrorrhizum (bigroot geranium).

Ferns: Ferns like Dryopteris (wood fern), Matteuccia struthiopteris (ostrich fern), or Polystichum (sword fern) can add texture and provide a natural, woodland feel beneath hickory trees.

Groundcovers: Use shade-tolerant groundcovers like Epimedium (barrenwort), Pachysandra (Japanese spurge), Vinca minor (periwinkle), or Galium odoratum (sweet woodruff) to cover the soil and prevent erosion.

Spring ephemerals: Early-blooming woodland plants like Trillium, Erythronium (trout lily), or Sanguinaria (bloodroot) can add a pop of color in the spring before the hickory tree fully leafs out.

Bulbs: Plant shade-tolerant bulbs like Narcissus (daffodils), Scilla (squill), or Leucojum (snowflakes) to provide spring color in a woodland setting.

Native wildflowers: Incorporate native wildflowers like Mertensia (Virginia bluebells), Asarum (wild ginger), or Lobelia (cardinal flower) to support local ecosystems and create a more natural look.

Grasses and sedges: Shade-tolerant grasses like Carex (sedges), Chasmanthium (wood oats), or Deschampsia (tufted hair grass) can provide textural contrast and blend well in a woodland landscape.

Climbing plants: If you have a sturdy support structure near the hickory tree, consider adding climbing plants like Clematis or Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris (climbing hydrangea) for vertical interest.

Rhododendron and Azalea: Acid-loving shrubs like Rhododendron and Azalea can be planted beneath hickories if the soil is acidic and well-draining.

Keep in mind that hickories have deep taproots and may not appreciate too much root disturbance. Be cautious when planting around their root zone, and choose plants that have non-invasive root systems. Also, consider the specific growing conditions of your garden, such as sun exposure, soil type, and climate, when selecting companion plants for your hickory tree.

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