Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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?

Share

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - September 21, 2009

From: Fairfax, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Trees
Title: Small native flowering tree for Virginia
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Could you recommend a small flowering tree (8-10' mature size) to plant in front garden next to the house. Full sun. Something that doesn't have invasive roots that would damage the house. Thanks Sheila

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants recommends that you go to our Recommended Species page and choose Virginia from the map or pulldown menu.  This will give you a list of native plants that are commercially available and are recommended for landscaping in Virginia.  You can use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option to add your preferences for General Appearance, Light Requirement, Soil Moisture, etc.  Here are a few from that list that would meet your criteria pretty well:

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle)

Physocarpus opulifolius (common ninebark)

Robinia hispida (bristly locust)

Rhus glabra (smooth sumac)

Viburnum dentatum (southern arrowwood)

Here are a few that are a little taller than your stated preference:

Amelanchier canadensis (Canadian serviceberry)

Asimina triloba (pawpaw)

Prunus americana (American plum)

Ptelea trifoliata (common hoptree)

Sorbus americana (American mountain ash)

It will matter how close your tree is planted to your house as to whether or not the roots will harm your foundation.  You can read the recommendations from Iowa State University Extension Service for Sidewalks and Trees which bases the distance trees should be planted near pavement on the mature height of the tree. Their recommendations are:

1. trees with a mature height of less than 30 feet, 3-4 feet from pavement,
2. trees with a mature height of 30 to 50 feet, 5-6 feet from pavement,
3. trees with a mature height of greater than 50 feet, at least 8 feet from pavement.

You could consider installing some sort of root barrier between the tree and the foundation.  Here is more information about root barriers.


Morella cerifera

Elymus canadensis

Robinia hispida

Rhus glabra

Viburnum dentatum

Amelanchier canadensis

Asimina triloba

Prunus americana

Ptelea trifoliata

Sorbus americana

 

 

More Trees Questions

Twig girdlers attacking an Elm tree in Wimberly, TX.
October 27, 2009 - I was looking at my small 6' cedar elm and noticed that four (4) 1/2" limbs have circle cuts a 1/8" wide completely around them and they are dead. Is this some insect or maybe a bigger critter? I h...
view the full question and answer

Are non-native Chinese pistache poisonous to alpacas from Galt CA
October 07, 2012 - Are Chinese Pistachio trees poisonous to alpacas?
view the full question and answer

Leaves dropping from a potted Mesquite
August 11, 2014 - I have a Prosopis pubescens (Screwbean Mesquite) that I purchased at a nursery in Alpine, TX just a few miles away from me. It was a in nursery style black plastic container. The mesquite is perhaps a...
view the full question and answer

Should I purchase wax myrtle plants as liners or pots
July 18, 2011 - I want to buy some wax myrtle over internet.Place has wax myrtle "liners" They look very thin. Will these bushes grow quickly or should I spend more $ for 1 gallon plants. Just need a hedge fairly q...
view the full question and answer

How do you determine male persimmon seedlings from the females?
May 11, 2013 - I have got new persimmon seedlings about 3 inches tall this spring, and am wondering if there is any way to tell male from female at this young stage? I just don't want to plant 20 or 40 seedlings an...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.