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Help! Need productive shade tree advise

Posted by irisaddict 6b/7 TN (My Page) on
Sat, Aug 8, 09 at 18:18

My maple tree, whose purpose in life was to shade my new sunroom, decided to start a slow death 6 months after the room was finished. We will be taking it down over the next month and I need a shade replacement.

The tree will be planted on the SW side of the sunroom which is on the west side of the house. The sunroom is on the 2nd level, where the previous deck is so lets so the roof is about 20 feet tall.

I have started the "earn your keep" criteria for new shrubs and trees and shade alone is not enough. So, candidates so far are pecan and ENGLISH walnut. I thought about an apple but it would be too messy eventually with fallen fruit and the subsequent yellow jackets. While I would like a fast growing tree, a strong safe tree is more important.

Any suggestions would be appreciated. I would also love to hear suggestions on some shade plant ideas I could do until the tree-to-be-named-later gets big. Two I have considered are crape myrtle and hardy banana.

So thanks for reading and I look forward to your brainstorming.


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Help! Need productive shade tree advise

I have a Tulip Poplar, on the south west side of my sun room. Very fast grower, but not the strongest tree.

RE: Help! Need productive shade tree advise

I am on a similar search. My lovely maple had to be cut. My tree will be planted on the west side of the sun room.

To comment on your ideas, I have a pecan in another part of the yard and enjoy it. Mine was a mature tree 25 years ago, taller than maples and shorter than hackberries. I have also used crape myrtle to shade a west window where I didn't have enough room for a tree at a previous house. I think a rounder shrub would have been better--the crape myrtle grew straight up and didn't cast a lot of shade.

RE: Help! Need productive shade tree advise

Rose of Sharons grow pretty fast and are wider than Crepes. I would be very careful about putting a large tree so close to the house. Large limbs can come off of the hardest wood trees in a strong storm and cave in your roof or worse. Have you seen those roll out awnings? That might be the ticket to controlling the amount of sun you want at any given time.

RE: Help! Need productive shade tree advise

  • Posted by brandon7 6b (like 7b now) TN (My Page) on
    Mon, Aug 10, 09 at 9:15

Rose of Sharon (Hybiscus syriacus) typically doesn't get more than about 10' tall and 8' wide. Some Crape Myrtles (Lagerstroemia) get over 25' tall with a similar spread. Also, they can do this relatively quickly. In certain situations, most RoS can produce large amounts of annoying seedlings.

I'm not sure what to suggest for the large tree. The idea of large nuts falling all around a house doesn't appeal to me. I have a number of nut trees, but they are all planted well away from where I plan to eventually build a house.

RE: Help! Need productive shade tree advise

How about a Cornelian Cherry? Cornus mas.

It might serve double duty for you, or at least be a nice ornamental. It might be slower growing but they look nice and you could use a crape myrtle for a while as a fast growing temporary screen.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cornus mas

RE: Help! Need productive shade tree advise

So, the pecan and English walnut are still in the running.

I checked out the Cornelian cherry, a creative suggestion, at (my favorite place to see how edible things are) and learned:
"Seedlings can take up to 20 years to come into fruit. Plants produced from cuttings come into fruit when much younger, though they do not live as long as the seedlings. A very ornamental plant[1] it flowers quite early in the year and is a valuable early food for bees[13, 108]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200]."

Also, the flowers didn't do much for me. But to be fair, they are better than nut tree flowers.

RE: Help! Need productive shade tree advise

  • Posted by brandon7 6b (like 7b now) TN (My Page) on
    Fri, Aug 14, 09 at 8:42

I'm not convinced that their statement about specimens grown from cuttings being shorter lived is true. Some species are more reliably grown from seed than from grafts because of more frequent cases of graft incompatibility in grafted specimens. Of course, graft incompatibility in these cases only affects some of the specimens and can usually be considerably reduced with proper grafting technique and thorough sanitation while the graft is being performed. Barring that, I don't see any reason for the statement to be true. I would at least have to see the statement backed up by other independent sources before putting any stock into it.

There are many cultivars of Cornus mas. Some of these cultivars have been around a long time. If something was happening genetically in the plant material to significantly shorten the life expectancy of the trees, I wouldn't expect to see these old cultivars still around. If I were adding one of these trees, I'd definitely consider a cultivar. IMO, the superior characteristics available would far outweigh the unlikely likelihood of an automatically shorter lifespan.

I also like certain things about the Plants For A Future Database, but I find way too much missing information, incorrect information, and even self-contradictory information. Like many other sources, I try to re-verify any information I get from the site.

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