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

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

Do Maple trees and Poplars grow well in Amarillo,TX?
May 25, 2010 - Do maple trees and poplars grow well in Amarillo Texas? I love the fall reds, oranges, and yellows. If they don't grow well can you recommend some trees that have the color that will grow well?
view the full question and answer

Ornamental grasses under desert willows from Dallas, TX
September 06, 2013 - I am planning on planting 3 desert willows in full sun, below the power lines at the back of my back yard in the White Rock Lake area of Dallas. I would like to plant some ornamental grasses in the be...
view the full question and answer

What will grow under neighbor's overhanging tree in Grosse Pointe Woods MI
May 29, 2011 - My next door neighbor has a beautiful tree that is easily 60 years old and thus not going anywhere. Unfortunately, for me the roots of this tree have extended under a large corner of my back yard. Add...
view the full question and answer

Need a shade tree for front yard in Fredricksburg, TX.
July 16, 2012 - I live in Fredericksburg, Tx. I have a large front yard, but only one huge pecan tree in the front yard that is probably 18 years old. It shades half the yard. I want to plant another shade tree for t...
view the full question and answer

Apple trees for Dothan, AL
April 01, 2009 - I would like to plant early, mid and late season apple trees in my area Dothan Al.What types can I plant that will help pollinate each other? I have plenty of room and planting some crabapples trees w...
view the full question and answer

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