Tree-like bush in dappled shade of maple

Roth(zone 5 MI)October 1, 2004

I'm looking for advice on a specimen flowering bush or small tree to plant in the dappled shade of a maple tree. Ideal height is 8-12 feet, with lots of seasonal interest, since the spot is near the front door. The ground is dry, though I'm willing to water every 10 days or so once the plant is established. Dappled shade is a generous term in this case; not a lot of sun gets through. Spring and winter interest are the most important, since other nearby plants have interesting summer and fall flowering and foliage. Thanks for your help!

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gardengal48

You might want to consider one of the Ribes or flowering currants. Ribes sanguineum is a west coast native that blooms in very early spring with long pendant racemes of pink or white flowers. An early hummingbird attractor! Ribes odoratum or clove currant is native to large portions of the midwest and blooms in April with yellow, spicy scented flowers and will often have some nice fall color. Both are happy in part shade and pretty drought tolerant once established.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2004 at 9:55AM
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john_mo(z5/6)

One of my favorite understory trees is serviceberry (Amelanchier). There are a number of different species with different ranges and growth forms -- some are shrubbier, others tend to be small trees (often multi-trunked). They have beautiful white flowers early in the spring, and edible (by humans and wildlife) blue berries in mid summer -- they're sometimes called Juneberries. The fall color can also be good, ranging from yellow to orange to red.

Good luck. Maples are tough competitors -- for both moisture and light.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2004 at 12:07PM
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annebert(6b/7a MD)

Witch hazel? Not sure about its water needs,though.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2004 at 1:01PM
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Roth(zone 5 MI)

Thanks for your suggestions. I have considered a witch hazel, hamamelis x intermedia "Diana," to be exact. Other options include Harry Lauder's Walking Stick or cornus kousa "Snowboy." Which variety of serviceberry tolerates quite a bit of shade?

    Bookmark   October 9, 2004 at 3:56PM
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Roth(zone 5 MI)

Gardengal48, do you know if Ribes is prohibited in Michigan? This is noted in "Dry-Land Gardening," a book on Xeriscaping. If not, it sounds like an excellent choice.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2004 at 10:26PM
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john_mo(z5/6)

The two Amelanchier species that are most widely distributed in the northeast are A. arborea (downy serviceberry) and A. laevis (Allegheny serviceberry). Both will perform better (better fruits and fall color; faster growth) in full sun, but around here A. arborea commonly occurs in the understory.

Arborea is one of the many species that prefers the elusive 'moist, but well-drained' soil. I have two young arbora in a mostly shady site on a slight slope with heavy soil -- but they are growing pretty slowly.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2004 at 9:50AM
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