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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.

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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.

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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!

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Wednesday - September 11, 2013

From: Ellicott City, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Shrubs, Trees
Title: Shade Tree for Baltimore Patio
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I am looking for a deep-rooted shade tree (or a tall shrub) for near my patio in Baltimore, Md. I desire shade in summer, but with minimum impact to the patio. The tree would be about 20 feet from the house. Any suggestions?

ANSWER:

The first place to go to find a list of potential plants is our Native Plant Database. Use the Combination Search feature instead of Recommended Species. This will provide a bigger selection with much more choice to narrow down. The volunteers and staff at the Wildflower Center who maintain the database have partners in different regions to help with these recommended species lists based on what is easy to access in local nurseries.
Under Combination Search, select the following categories: State – Maryland, Habit – tree, Duration – Perennial, Light Requirement – Sun, Soil Moisture – Moist, Size – 12-36 ft. You can narrow down this search further by indicating leaf retention, blooming time and bloom color too if you like.
These search criteria will give you trees to consider. Some of the trees have fruit that may have an impact on your patio (Morus rubra, Prunus serotina, Prunus virginiana) so take this into consideration. You can also redo the search for the larger trees and shrub category too. Follow each plant link to our webpage for that plant to learn its growing conditions, bloom time, etc. At the bottom of each plant webpage, under Additional Resources, there is a link to the USDA webpage for that plant. Take a look there for more specific details about suitability before you put them on your final planting list.

Some of the potential trees (12-26 ft) to consider are:

Acer spicatum (mountain maple)

Alnus incana (gray alder)

Amelanchier laevis  (Allegheny serviceberry)

Asimina triloba (pawpaw)

Pinus virginiana (Virginia pine)

Ptelea trifoliata (wafer ash)

Sassafras albidum (sassafras)

Sorbus americana (American mountain ash)

 

From the Image Gallery


Mountain maple
Acer spicatum

Gray alder
Alnus incana

Allegheny serviceberry
Amelanchier laevis

Allegheny serviceberry
Amelanchier laevis

Pawpaw
Asimina triloba

Pawpaw
Asimina triloba

Virginia pine
Pinus virginiana

Wafer ash
Ptelea trifoliata

Sassafras
Sassafras albidum

American mountain ash
Sorbus americana

American mountain ash
Sorbus americana

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