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
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

Oak tree with browning leaves in Brenham TX
August 16, 2011 - I have a large oak tree in my small back yard. I also have a sprinkler so the tree has been receiving some water. Nevertheless, some of the leaves are turning brown in patches. Would drip watering ...
view the full question and answer

Texas persimmon with scorched leaves from Austin
July 11, 2013 - I planted a Texas Persimmon seedling (five gallon) in my yard in early April. It is in a sunny, well-drained spot, and I have watered it regularly since planting. All was fine until the last weekend i...
view the full question and answer

Plants poisonous to dogs from Marion TX
April 24, 2012 - Is the desert willow poisonous to dogs?
view the full question and answer

Damage from Hurricane Irene in Burgaw, NC
August 27, 2011 - We live in Burgaw, NC and have begun the clean up efforts of Hurricane Irene which has made a full grown crape myrtle lean to one side. Its a very large tree and it is not uprooted. Is there anyway ...
view the full question and answer

Small Tree for Texas Garden
November 06, 2014 - I would like to plant a small tree just 3-4 feet from my house, but I don't want to damage the foundation. Is there a small fruit or nut tree I could plant that would fit the bill? Failing that, is t...
view the full question and answer

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