Japanese Tassel Fern

The Japanese Tassel Fern grows best in partial to full shade. This means it would be perfect for underneath or beside a maple tree. Typically, it will grow to 2 feet tall and 3 feet wide. The benefits of growing a Japanese Tassel Fern include adding texture to your garden and increasing biodiversity. This plant gets its name from the way the fern leaves behave. It is also non-toxic to pets!


Hepatica flowers are a beautiful blue, white, or pink color in the spring. When it rains, these flowers may not open, yet they still look stunning under the tree. The flowers are only a couple of inches tall and grow up on a hairy stem. The petals of a hepatic flower are actually not petals - they are sepals. Underneath a maple tree, this native perennial can thrive and brighten up the garden.

Canada Violets

Canada violets are edible flowers that have heart-shaped leaves. With a stunning yellow center and white petals, this flower makes for a beautiful addition to any garden bed. Occasionally, there will be a hint of light purple in these violets. An important note is that this plant enjoys moist soil, so be sure to pair it with other plants that hydrate often.

Pennsylvania Sedge

Similar to dense grasses, Pennsylvania sedges are low to the ground and close together. This plant does very well in the shade, which is perfect for under the beautiful foliage of these trees. This perennial is usually less than a foot tall and has brown seeds at the top. Pennsylvania sedges also attract birds (who eat the brown seeds) and rarely catch plant diseases.

Grass Ground Cover

Dwarf mondo grass is a fairly short and clumped together grass. Since this grass only requires filtered sunlight, it makes a great ground cover for under the tree. Pair this together with rocks to make a stone and grass mosaic. Or, you pair it with one of the flowering options mentioned earlier.

What Not to Plant Underneath a Maple Tree?

Do not plant hostas under a maple tree! The maple tree will absolutely choke the hostas, and they will perish. Maple trees have thin, yet aggressive roots in the sense that they do not tolerate every plant underneath them. That is why it is important to choose a plant that we listed above, and definitely not hostas.