En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

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


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


  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

More Planting Questions

Wildflower Meadow for Poth, TX
January 22, 2014 - I recently cleared some underbrush from a virgin pasture, with large oaks and mesquites scattered through it, and was wondering if it was too late to plant wildflowers? If not, what varieties of wildf...
view the full question and answer

Drought tolerant Plants and moving Wax myrtles in Austin
April 30, 2011 - Mr. Smarty Plants, What are the most fire resistant and drought tolerant plants for caliche soil in Austin area? I am considering relocating or removing my wax myrtle shrubs because they are ...
view the full question and answer

Progress of Habiturf lawn from Round Rock TX
April 12, 2012 - I sowed Habiturf seeds almost two weeks ago in well prepared soil--no grass or weeds, well tilled with compost. After sowing, I lightly raked the soil. I have watered twice/day, allowing it to dry s...
view the full question and answer

Plants under oak trees
April 21, 2009 - I have a large live oak (actually several) in my front yard, which basically puts the beds at the foundation of my house in full shade. I tore out the builder-boxwoods and privets, hoping to plant so...
view the full question and answer

When to plant wildflowers in California
December 10, 2013 - When is the best time to plant wildflowers in California?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center