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What to Plant in a Rotting Tree Stump

Updated February 21, 2017

A stump does not need to be an eyesore, even if you choose to let it rot away instead of removing it. As the stump rots away in the centre, you can turn it into a growing container. Many varieties of flowers will grow in the centre of a stump, turning it into an attractive feature of your garden.

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Bulbs will grow well in a stump that is rotted out. Hollow out the rotted centre with a spade. Use a small axe to remove the denser portions until you have enough room to meet the planting depth of your bulbs. Fill the hollowed out stump with gardening soil and plant narcissus and tulip varieties according to plant instructions. Water and fertilise your bulbs as you would with any container.


If your stump is in a shady area of the yard, such as around other trees, ferns can grow well inside of it. Ferns prefer soil similar to their environment, so be sure to add some peat moss and sand when you add garden soil to the stump. Keep fern plants moist. Ferns will grow as they do in the wild and look natural in the landscape.

Blending In

Fill a rotted stump with annuals that have a lot of foliage to help the stump blend more naturally into the landscape. Impatiens and begonias are annuals that produce lush greenery in addition to colourful blooms. These plant varieties do well in containers and will thrive even if your stump is in the shade. Plant more annuals, bulbs or ferns in the ground around the stump to make it appear as part of the landscape.

Young Stumps

If the stump is too young to easily hollow out, you can try using a small axe to chip away at the trunk. An alternative to hollowing out the tree stump is to set containers on top of the flat area. Fill the containers with plants that trail, such as ferns or trailing annuals and allow the plants to drape over the sides of the stump. Over time, the stump will begin to rot and you will eventually be able to plant inside of it.

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About the Author

Bobbie Brewer has been writing since 1990, with work appearing in print and online. She covers topics related to international travel, outdoor recreation, parenting and gardening. Brewer holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from California State University, Sacramento.

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