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

Wednesday - April 20, 2011

From: New York, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Trees
Title: Summer flowering small trees for NY
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

Request recommendations about trees for terrace. Would like flowers or color in summer; not spring. (Some of my trees are twenty five feet high.) Full sun, some wind, large containers. Please recommend two or three deciduous trees.

ANSWER:

Well, this is a tough one. The mission of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is to promote the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants and landscapes.  That means that we can only recommend plants that are native to your area and have evolved in and adapted to the natural conditions in your area prior to European settlement.

That is a roundabout way of saying there are no trees native to NYC that are really adapted to life in a container in full sun and the stresses associated with it. 

You will probably have to contact a nursery professional experienced with large container planting and you should look at examples around you in the city to see what plants are doing well in containers.

That being said, you really should be considering a large shrub instead of a small tree.  Most trees bloom in the spring but shrubs tend to bloom in the summertime and there are quite a few shrubs that can attain a significant size.  They can also be pruned to be quite attractive in a container.  When you do make a selection, you will need to consider winter root hardiness and select a shrub that will survive in at least one USDA Zone colder than yours.  That is because in the wintertime, the air is actually significantly colder that the soil.

Our Native Plant Database will generate a list of plants that are native to New York.  Do a Combination Search selecting: New York/shrub/sun/dry conditions and 6-12 ft size and it generates a list of 17 plants.  If you think you can keep the container moist, your choices will be broader with 26 to choose from.

The only plant from those lists that might be remotely interesting as a container plant is:

Physocarpus opulifolius (Atlantic ninebark)

It flowers in the summertime, the seedpods are a colorful red and remain on the plant for an extended period and it turns yellow in the fall.  There are cultivated varieties that offer variation in leaf color and red fall color.

You might also have luck with small, tough northern trees like

Betula nigra (River birch)

It will survive in a container (and not attain its maximum size), but does not meet your requirement of summer flowers.

I am sorry we could not give you the answer you were looking for.  Again, we encourage you to seek advice from local landscape professionals.


Physocarpus opulifolius


Physocarpus opulifolius


Physocarpus opulifolius


Betula nigra


Betula nigra


Betula nigra

 

 

 

More Trees Questions

Mountain laurel (Sophora secundiflora) refuses to bloom
March 07, 2008 - We have a Texas Mountain Laurel that gets full sunlight, but does not bloom. It is 4-5 ft tall & 3-4 ft wide & healthy. Is there anything we can do to make it bloom next year?
view the full question and answer

Trees for clay soil from Charlotte TX
August 25, 2013 - We have an area in our yard that even Esperanzas won't grow. It is near another that does great. Six Esperanzas are planted in a north/south row about with 10' between plants, the southern most plan...
view the full question and answer

Tree with brown spots on leaves containing caterpillars
July 14, 2011 - We have a new little tree we planted in our yard and I went over to admire it and on each leaf there is a brown spot in which little worms are living. They are alive and moving around in the pocket th...
view the full question and answer

How to Identify Male and Female Texas Persimmon Trees
October 07, 2014 - I have just learned that Texas persimmon trees are either male or female. Is it possible to tell which is which when buying one? I am planting on 50 acres near Blanco. Do I need one of each? I'd ...
view the full question and answer

Ash tree shedding seeds early in IL
June 23, 2011 - I've lived in my house 13 years now and have a large and old ash tree in my backyard near my patio. The seed pods are ten-fold this year and are dropping constantly. I've never experienced this co...
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