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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - January 15, 2014

From: Ardmore, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Plant Lists, Planting, Trees
Title: A Native Tree for Ardmore PA
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

I am looking to plant a native tree in my back yard. The yard is small and gets mostly afternoon sun. Thank you

ANSWER:

  That’s great!  Mr Smarty Plants highly approves.  I trust you are in the planning phase, as I expect the weather in PA is not real conducive to digging and watering right now.  Here’s a bunch of resources for planting at a nice time in the spring.   The “Step-by-Step" Guides have a number of instructions on plant care, including an article from Wildflower on Transplanting Bareroot Natives.   Similarly, there is an array of “How-to” articles.  Here you can find an article on caring for your new native plants.

  Of course, you didn’t ask for this advice – but then, all you asked for is a native tree for a small, partially shaded yard.  The best resource we have for this is the lists of “Recommended Species” .  This link is to the list assembled for Pennsylvania.   This list can be sorted for Appearance, Light Requirement and Size.  Once you match this to your yard, then you can “shop” for a look or other characteristics that you like.

There are 19 trees recommended for partial shade and a 36-72 foot height [about as tall as I can imagine in what I consider a small yard].  Ones that catch my eye include: 
Acer rubrum (Red maple), which is lovely, but kind of big
Amelanchier canadensis (Canadian serviceberry)
Diospyros virginiana (Common persimmon)

For a 12-36 foot height, which may be more suitable to my idea of small, there are 10 trees recommended, here are a few candidates:
Cercis canadensis (Eastern redbud)
Ilex opaca (American holly)
Sorbus americana (American mountain ash)

 

From the Image Gallery


Red maple
Acer rubrum

Canadian serviceberry
Amelanchier canadensis

Common persimmon
Diospyros virginiana

Eastern redbud
Cercis canadensis

American holly
Ilex opaca

American mountain ash
Sorbus americana

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