Underplanting – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Horticultural Terms Glossary

What is underplanting?

Underplanting refers to the practice of planting smaller, low-growing plants beneath larger trees or shrubs in a garden or landscape. These underplanted plants can serve a variety of purposes, such as adding color, texture, and interest to the space, filling in bare spots, and providing ground cover to suppress weeds. Underplanting is a common technique used in horticulture to maximize the use of space and create visually appealing and functional landscapes.

Why is underplanting important in horticulture?

Underplanting is important in horticulture for several reasons. Firstly, it helps to make the most of limited garden space by utilizing the area beneath larger plants that may otherwise be left bare. This can create a more visually appealing and dynamic landscape. Additionally, underplanted areas can provide habitat and food sources for beneficial insects, birds, and other wildlife. Underplanting also helps to improve soil health by reducing erosion, increasing organic matter, and promoting biodiversity.

How to choose plants for underplanting?

When choosing plants for underplanting, it is important to consider the growing conditions of the site, including light levels, soil type, and moisture levels. Select plants that are well-suited to the specific conditions of the area where they will be planted. Choose plants that complement the larger trees or shrubs above them in terms of color, texture, and form. Consider using a mix of evergreen and deciduous plants to provide year-round interest. Low-growing ground covers, ferns, grasses, and perennials are all popular choices for underplanting.

When is the best time to underplant?

The best time to underplant is typically in the spring or fall when the soil is moist and temperatures are mild. This allows the plants to establish themselves before the heat of summer or the cold of winter sets in. Avoid planting during extreme weather conditions, such as heatwaves or droughts, as this can stress the plants and reduce their chances of survival. Water newly planted underplants regularly to help them establish strong root systems.

Where is underplanting commonly used in landscaping?

Underplanting is commonly used in a variety of landscaping settings, including woodland gardens, shade gardens, and under trees and shrubs in mixed borders. It is also popular in urban landscapes, where space is limited and underplanting can help to maximize the use of available space. Underplanting can be used to create a naturalistic look, provide ground cover in difficult-to-maintain areas, or add seasonal interest to a garden.

How to care for underplanted areas?

Caring for underplanted areas involves regular maintenance to ensure the health and vitality of the plants. Water newly planted underplants regularly until they are established, and continue to water during dry periods. Mulch around the plants to help retain moisture, suppress weeds, and improve soil health. Prune back any overgrown plants to maintain a tidy appearance and prevent overcrowding. Fertilize as needed to provide nutrients to the plants, and monitor for pests and diseases that may affect their health. With proper care, underplanted areas can thrive and enhance the beauty of the landscape.