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small flowering trees for mostly shade?

Posted by mayland 7/8 atlanta (My Page) on
Wed, Mar 25, 09 at 13:51

We have a lot of tall oaks and other big trees in our front garden, so we look out onto a lot of "legs". I want to plant some smaller flowering trees near the street to help break up our view.

The area i want to plant in is on a slope, and has mostly sun in winter, but lots of shade after the big trees leaf out. I'd say it gets no more than "filtered shade" from April-Nov.

I'd like something small-ish (dogwood sized), with flowers and/or good fall color. Ideally native, or at the least, not a thug. I can probably plant 2-3 trees.

I am thinking about Amelanchier, Redbud, and Grancy Greybeard. Would any of these do better or worse than the others in these conditions?

Does anyone have any other suggestions? Taller tree-like shrubs would also be an option.

I have got smaller shrubs along the street in the same area -- Florida anise, ilex glabra, a few azaleas and camellia.


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: small flowering trees for mostly shade?

Maybe one of the bigger oakleaf hydrangeas, like 'Alice'. They can grow to 12'. Oakleafs are some of my favs.
We recently put in a bottlebrush buckeye for a similar situation, though it does get some sun in the late afternoon/evening.

RE: small flowering trees for mostly shade?

how about a red twig dogwood? also was thinking of the "Jane" magnolia, but not sure if it would get enough sun where u want to plant...

RE: small flowering trees for mostly shade?

Maybe witch hazel or Carolina silverbell?

RE: small flowering trees for mostly shade?

I have silverbell in shade and it hasn't flowered - I would suggest one of the native snowbells (Styrax) instead. A shrub that does well in shade is Mapleleaf viburnum and it also has great fall color. It doesn't get as big as a dogwood though - perhaps something to consider for an adjacent area. One viburnum that does reach tree stature is Viburnum prunifolium, but I think it needs more sun.

Alternate leaf dogwood (Cornus alternifolia) likes partial shade and has a lovely shape - fall color is ordinary.

Oakleaf hydrangea is certainly an outstanding shrub and is a good possibility.

Fringetree/Grancy greybeard can take partial sun, but would flower best with about 5 hours of sun. Fall color is ordinary. Serviceberry really wants full sun (6 or more hours) and fall color is great. Redbud can handle partial sun, fall color is ordinary.

Another idea is umbrella magnolia - Magnolia tripetala.

RE: small flowering trees for mostly shade?

These all sound wonderful, thanks so much, I wonder if I have space for one of everything!

I would really love a Grancy Greybeard so am thinking i will try to find a spot a little further uphill with slightly more sun for this one. Maybe I could squeeze in a Silverbell there too, they look really beautiful.

I do already have an Amelanchier in a sunnier spot, so i can pass on getting a second one.

For the shady area then, I will look at Styrax, Cornus alternifolia, Witchhazel (i have been wanting to plant one of these for a while too), oakleaf hydrangea (i have smaller ones elsewhere and love them), mapleleaf viburnum, and redtwig dogwood.

That Magnolia looks beautiful Esh, but I am thinking it might get a bit big - Floridata says 30-40', do you think that is likely in shade?

Eastatliens, I had thought about an Aesculus parviflora a while ago but I'm not sure I want anything that dense. They are stunning though.

Incidentally, I read on Floridata about bottlebrush buckeye and it ended with a warning that they are very toxic and ingestion can be fatal. That got me wondering whether i have any other highly toxic plants (we have 2 small kids) so I googled and discovered that my Daphne (berries) and Mtn Laurel are both listed as potentially fatal if eaten, as are Privet berries. our back yard is covered in privet berries right now from some massive old privets -- maybe i can use that to convince my husband that they must go! Time to give the kids a reminder talk about not eating any plants or berries...

Thanks for all the great suggestions, I am looking forward to planting this area.

(OT: plum)

Nippersdad, I meant to say thank you for your offer of a plum tree seedling on the other thread. I did mail-order an "AU Rubrum" tree from Johnson's in the end, which arrived last week. It is not big enough to fruit this year, but it seems better suited to growing here than the fruiting-size one i was considering. I'll see how it goes without spraying anything first, maybe I'll be lucky!

RE: small flowering trees for mostly shade?

our native azaleas would work there and are more open in habit than the shrubby evergreen type. no fall color.
also, japanese maples have outstanding fall color and the new, spring growth on some can simulate a floral effect.
'butterfly' is a pretty cream, pink and green variegated one that can brighten a shady area.. the fall color is unusual; a dull purple.

RE: small flowering trees for mostly shade?

I don't think you'll see the magnolia get that big. I have two in the backyard and they are still just about 10-12 feet now - they tend to branch out more than going UP.

RE: small flowering trees for mostly shade?

I second Esh re the umbrella magnolia. Mine have not grown quickly in the shade, are rather leggy with top knots. However, if you have a sheltered place, they have a prehistoric/exotic/tropical type of charm that is hard to beat!

Another suggestion might be a japanese magnolia; Stellata and saucer magnolias are thin in shaded conditions, but their flowers are stunning against a backdrop of bare winter branches. The star magnolias have an intoxicating fragrance as well (when they are allowed to bloom, they are subject to early frosts).

RE: small flowering trees for mostly shade?

Well, i'm liking the umbrella magnolia idea! And perhaps a star magnolia too. Prehistoric-looking is very charming, i agree. I have some fatsia and Acanthus that I like very much. I would love some Rodgersia but I understand our summers are too humid.

Jeff, can japanese maples really tolerate that much shade? I have 2 already that are in full sun (8-10 hrs a day in summer) and seem to be doing fine so far. Do they suffer at all in too much shade? My husband would like to buy a 3rd, so it would be an option to plant it there.

I have a couple of native azaleas in there and could add some more.

Its a big area (maybe 100 feet across and 20-30 feet uphill), so I can add quite a few things, which is helpful as I am not very decisive! Unfortunately it is covered in mondo at the moment, which is on the removal list.

RE: small flowering trees for mostly shade?

i have japanese maples in sun and shade. the ones in my woodland do fine with conditions similar to your area; winter sun under deciduous trees and bright, filtered light in summer.
those with white variegation in the foliage do better with protection from mid-day sun.

RE: forgot this

forgot to mention the rare ashe's magnolia (magnolia macrophylla subsp. asheii). large leaves and flowers like the bigleaf mags and will grow with lateral branching in shade. blooms at an early age. i purchased mine from mailorder natives nursery.

Here is a link that might be useful: floridata link

RE: small flowering trees for mostly shade?

Can anyone comment on putting a Star Magnolia in a spot with about 5 hours of full afternoon sun? It is on the northwest side of the house, so is blocked until early afternoon, then will be pretty warm all afternoon.

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