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?

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
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
1 rating

Friday - January 07, 2011

From: Brooklyn, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Trees
Title: Tree for little sun and clay soil in Brooklyn
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I need help choosing a specimen shrub or small tree for difficult city conditions. Its a tricky sun exposure only getting about two hours of direct sun at the hottest time of day with clay soil and intense heat in August. I'm looking for something that has a nice form that is beneficial to birds in some way. I was thinking of Viburnum prunifolium but I'm not sure if it would thrive. Any recommendations would be appreciated! Thank You.

ANSWER:

Viburnum prunifolium (Blackhaw) likes part shade (2 to 6 hours of sun per day) and well-drained soils so I'm doubtful that it would do overwhelmingly well.  It might survive but not really thrive. 

Let me recommend the Native Species Planting Guide for New York City and Vicinity from City of New York Parks and Recreation Division as well as our New York Recommended list of commercially available species for landscaping in New York.  (In our 'Recommended' list you can use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option and choose 'Tree' or 'Shrub' from the General Appearance list and 'Shade' from the Light Requirement list to reduce the number of species to view.)  Using these two resources you can find several shrubs or small trees that will do well for your site.  Here are three recommendations that will grow in shade and almost any type of soil.  All three have berries that birds like.  The two sumacs also have colorful autumn foliage.

Cornus racemosa (Gray dogwood)

Rhus glabra (Smooth sumac)

Rhus typhina (Staghorn sumac)

You can search our National Suppliers Directory to find nurseries in your area that specialize in native plants. The guide listed above from the City of New York also shows a list of nurseries in the area that carry native plants.

Here are photos from our Image Gallery:


Cornus racemosa


Rhus glabra


Rhus typhina
 

 

 

 

 

More Trees Questions

City tree ordinance information
January 10, 2010 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I am writing to you in regards to city tree ordinances. I am a citizen of Grand Prairie, TX. and although the city is a Tree City, the city does not have a tree ordinance. T...
view the full question and answer

Lighting for the Wildflower Center from Austin
December 16, 2012 - Hello Mr Smarty, On a recent night trip to the Center, there was an oak that was beautifully lit for the holidays. It seemed to come from one ground light, but cast hundreds of glistening "stars"...
view the full question and answer

Native evergreen to replace non-native chinaberry
November 08, 2011 - Looking for a native evergreen tree to replace a fruitless Chinaberry that was 35 years old. We have clay soil for about 3 feet and then you hit rock. Suggestions would be appreciated.
view the full question and answer

Spots on non-native naval orange trees from Stockton CA
October 20, 2012 - I have two mature Navel Orange trees. One tree has developed spotty chlorophyl depleted areas that were not on the oranges when they were smaller. In addition, the oranges on both trees are smaller ,...
view the full question and answer

Plant ID in Flower Mound TX
June 23, 2009 - I have a large native tree in the back yard, leaves resembles a live oak, but evergreen,& small white flowers in the spring, very tall vase shaped tree. It had no acorns or berries.
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center