Choosing the right companion plant for a tree can be difficult. They have to be able to survive in partial to full shade, thanks to the cherry tree foliage. The list of plants we have compiled consists of flowers, herbs, and beautiful ground cover.
Here is a list of plants that grow well under cherry trees:
- Toad Lily
- White Clover
That said, depending on the environment, some of these plants will work better than others. We did the research and are excited to share these botanical discoveries with you!
What To Plant Under Cherry Trees
Chives are a great companion plant for under a cherry tree. They happen to bloom at the same time as the cherry blossoms, and they will attract plenty of pollinators as well. Aside from being a fantastic culinary treat, chives also repel pests and have anti-fungal properties. This means they will keep your fruit tree healthy throughout the year!
Chamomile is another plant that will attract good bugs to the ecosystem around the cherry tree. This flower will also repel unwanted creatures such as the cherry fruit fly. This flower can also be harvested and used in cooking, most commonly in the form of hot tea.
Be sure to look out for aphids and any powdery white substance. Aphids love chamomile flowers, especially if they aren't receiving enough water. The best solution to aphids is ladybugs! Ladybugs become slaughtering beasts when it comes to aphids.
Herbs like rosemary are among the most common companion plants for fruit trees. Pollinators love it, mosquitos hate it, and it makes for a lovely garnish to any dish. Rosemary cannot grow in complete shade, so be sure to place it in an area where it can get a few hours of sunlight each day. In addition, rosemary hates humidity and should be planted in a more arid location.
Lavender is an excellent plant to put on the sides or around the perimeter of a cherry tree. Similar to rosemary, lavender does not tolerate complete shade. As a result, it will need to be exposed to more sunlight between the foliage and beside the trunk.
If French Lace Lavender is available, try planting that variety. It needs less sunlight than regular lavender but has a similar look and smell.
Lovage has historically been cultivated as a medicinal plant and is now commonly used to treat inflammation and psoriasis. Although, it is not recommended to ingest the plant if you are pregnant or have any kidney issues. It is always best to consult a professional before tasting any medicinal plants!
Lovage is not often found at local nurseries, so purchasing the seeds or propagating from a starter plant may be best. Dig at least one foot into the ground to properly propagate this plant. This will ensure all the roots are uprooted and can be separated into several plants.
Cilantro is one of the best herbal garnishes in the world! One fantastic benefit of growing cilantro is that it is an independent plant. Meaning that it will die and come back every year. It is often grown under fruit trees, although it should be avoided near tomatoes. Not that tomatoes would be planted under a cherry tree, haha!
The viola flower is part of the violet family. The cherry tree enjoys slightly acidic soil, just like this flower. This flower would thrive under a cherry tree because it adapts well to many sun and shade conditions. If the tree foliage needs to get cut back, the violas will welcome the increase in sunlight. Otherwise, it is content under the shade of a fruit tree.
In addition, the flower itself is rich in vitamins and can be a colorful topping for a salad!
8. Toad Lily
When it comes to flowers that love tree shade, the toad lily takes the number one prize. These unique flowers bloom for about a month and will attract many bees and butterflies. Unfortunately, toad lilies are toxic to housepets. Opt for a different cherry tree companion plant if your pets are prone to eating flowers!
This one may surprise you, as most people think of dandelions as lame weeds. The roots of a dandelion loosen up the soil and prevent erosion. This can be especially helpful during harvesting season, when someone may be standing underneath the cherry tree. The dandelions may be able to prevent the soil from becoming too compact, which leads to an unhealthy ecosystem.
Another lovely herb on this list is oregano. This plant can take a bit of foot traffic, so don't worry if you step on a leaf or two. Oregano needs less moisture than some other herbs on this list, such as cilantro. It also may be prone to aphids, so consider introducing more ladybugs into the area. Although, it repels just about every other bug!
In that case, try using a mix of plants rather than strictly herbs or strictly flowers. It is essential to keep biodiversity in your garden to prevent monocropping, pests and to keep pollinators happy.
11. White Clover
White clover is a significant source of nitrogen for the soil. It can prevent erosion and works well as a ground cover. Ground covers are essential because they protect the topsoil from the sun, keeping the soil rich in humus and nutrients. Too much sun exposure without a ground cover will ruin the microbiological makeup of the soil. The bacteria that keep the ecosystem healthy rely on the ground cover, such as white clover.
Can You Plant Comfrey Under A Cherry Tree?
It is widely debated whether you should plant comfrey under a cherry tree. The strong and aggressive roots make it difficult to remove. While there are many benefits of having comfrey in the garden, it can quickly become a toxic plant in the garden.
Firstly, the FDA has recommended companies remove all consumable comfrey products. There is a link between ingesting this plant and developing cancerous cells. Next, the deep root system can reach nutrients from deep in the soil that other plants may not be able to access.
What Is A Guild Tree?
Guild trees, specifically fruit guild trees, are trees planted together to form mutual benefit. It is a symbiotic relationship where the plants recycle nutrients from each other. There are also shrubs, climbing plants, flowers, etc., that can be planted underneath the trees to increase the ecosystem's diversity.
Note that the plants in a guild must not compact the soil underneath the tree. We recommend planting a variety of plants, including dandelions. As was previously mentioned, dandelions will loosen the dirt with their roots and prevent compaction.
Where Did This Practice Come From?
Guild gardening and companion planting are ancient techniques based on natural ecosystems. This is also referred to as permaculture. Although indigenous people have practiced harmony in nature for centuries, the term "permaculture" only came about in the 1970s. The first person to truly globalize the idea of permaculture was Bruce [Bill] Mollison. He was an Australian researcher who studied environmental psychology before his passing in 2016.
How Does Biodiversity Increase Fruit Production?
Biodiversity is important because there will be different nutrients entering and recycling into the root systems. The cherry tree will benefit from the various sources of nitrogen, carbon, and other minerals based on the specific benefits of the plants. Biodiversity also prevents monocropping, which is basically asking for a pest to ruin your whole farm.
In addition, a multitude of plants keeps pollinators content. Increasing the bees and butterflies near the tree means the cherry blossoms will be healthy enough to produce fruit!
We hope you enjoyed learning about cherry tree companion plants as much as we did! Here are some key points to remember:
- biodiversity is key to any garden
- ladybugs are aphid-eating machines
- comfrey is only okay if it is a permanent plant settlement
Good luck on your guild tree journey, and check out these related articles for more information on fruit trees!