Contact Us Host an Event 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
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - April 14, 2010

From: Burbank, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Small flowering tree for Burbank IL
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Looking for a semi-dwarf flowering tree resistant to disease and insects. Current flowering crab has fire blight. What would you suggest planting. We live in a Chicago IL suburb.

ANSWER:

What you are saying is that you want a flowering crab tree that doesn't get fire blight or insects, another "designer" plant. There are three wild crabapples native to Illinois and two to the Cook County area: Malus coronaria (sweet crabapple) and Malus ioensis (prairie crabapple), which has this warning in our database: "Cedar-apple rust, apple scab, and other leaf diseases are severe." This applies to all members of this family, and since your plant is likely a much-hybridized cultivar of the Malus genus not even native to North America, that poor plant was probably doomed before it ever left the nursery. 

We will look in the Recommended Species section of our Native Plant Database for possibilities, and avoid recommending any plants that are known to be susceptible to disease. As for insects, well, you know, if you plant the bushes, they will come. Many insects are beneficials of one kind or another, and a healthy plant in the right place will often overcome damage from the others. You didn't tell us if the plant would be in sun or shade, so we will search without inserting those specifications and you can follow the plant links to the page on each plant to learn what their prime growing requirements are. Often diseases and insects will attack, or at least affect, plants that are not in the right place. That is one of the reasons that the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center will recommend only plants native to both North America and to the area in which the plant is being grown. A plant that has grown in an area for millions of years will be adapted to the rainfall, temperatures and soils of that area, and more able to withstand threats.

Every plant that we selected appears in the USDA Plant Profile for that plant as growing in or very near to Cook County. We will look at both shrubs and trees, because many shrubs are considered "shrubs or small trees," and can be trimmed to a tree-like form. None of them is evergreen, but then neither is the crabapple. We eliminated any from our list that were known to have severe disease or insect problems. Most had statements similar to this:  " Resistant to most diseases, insects and physiological problems." (Cornus racemosa (gray dogwood)

Small Flowering Shrubs for Burbank IL:

Cornus alternifolia (alternateleaf dogwood)

Cornus racemosa (gray dogwood)

Cornus sericea (redosier dogwood)

Physocarpus opulifolius (common ninebark)

Spiraea alba (white meadowsweet)

Viburnum prunifolium (blackhaw)

Small Flowering Trees for Burbank IL: 

Cercis canadensis (eastern redbud)

Prunus americana (American plum)

 

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Cornus alternifolia

Cornus racemosa

Cornus sericea

Physocarpus opulifolius

Spiraea alba

Viburnum prunifolium

Cercis canadensis

Prunus americana

 

 

More Trees Questions

Native Texas tree for anniversary in Austin
May 20, 2009 - My husband and I would like to plant a tree in our yard commemorating our 5 year anniversary (wood anniversary). What native Texas tree can we plant in June? I love Red buds and any pretty blooming ...
view the full question and answer

Bur oak defoliation
September 05, 2008 - I have a bur oak that was planted in 1993. In 2000, I had mortared stone edging (approx 5 inches deep) installed around the trunk from 4 to 6 feet away. In the last 3 years, the tree seems to be decli...
view the full question and answer

Watering Oak Trees in the Summer
July 15, 2011 - Should you water oak trees in the summer? Some people say its not good for them. But many trees seem to be withering up and dying in this heat. Especially the black jack oaks. There are also post ...
view the full question and answer

Non-native avocado trees in Rio Grande Valley from Austin
January 05, 2013 - I just read the article in the Austin American Statesman about growing avocados outdoors. Don't know if they grow here, but they certainly don't just grow in south Florida. I used to live in Wesla...
view the full question and answer

Quercus polymorpha botanical name for Mexican white oak
June 19, 2007 - What is the scientfic name for the Monterrey Oak?
view the full question and answer

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