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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Rhamnus purshiana, Pyrus, Nyssa, Hovenia, Oxydendrum arboreum, Cornus nuttallii, Malus, Crataegus, Native plants--Care and maintenance, Quercus, Prunus, Acer

Can you recommend some tree species (deciduous) that can have wet feet but will also tolerate dry conditions in the summer? The recommendations should be trees that are not too messy (no cottonwoods or alders, please) and not too big. I would like to plant some trees near a swale in my yard - so they could be sitting in soggy ground during the winter.


Following is a list of possibilities, most of which come from Water Conserving Plants for the Pacific Northwest West of the Cascades (by the N.W. Perennial Alliance, 1993). The list includes only trees that 1) thrive in soils which are waterlogged in the winter, and, 2) grow to less than 40 feet tall.

ACER (maple):
A. buergeranum (trident maple)
A. campestre (field maple)
A. ginnala (Amur maple)
A. circinatum (vine maple)
CORNUS nuttallii (western dogwood)
C. douglasii (black hawthorn)
C. monogyna
C. phaenopyrum (Washington thorn)
C. x lavallei (Carriere hawthorn)
HOVENIA dulcis (Japanese raisin tree)
MALUS fusca (Pacific crab apple)
NYSSA sylvatica (black gum)
OXYDENDRUM arboreum (sourwood)
PRUNUS (prune/plum/cherry):
P. virginiana var. melanocarpa (chokecherry)
P. emarginata (bitter cherry)
PYRUS (pear):
P. communis (common pear)
P. pyrifolia (Chinese pear, sand pear)
QUERCUS (oak):
Q. acutissima (sawtooth oak)
Q. imbricaria (shingle oak)
RHAMNUS purshiana (cascara)

Date 2017-05-25
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Cornus florida, Cornus nuttallii, Cornus

I have a 22-year-old Eddie's White Wonder Dogwood. It bloomed the first three springs after planting and then stopped blooming until this spring.

It is planted at the edge of a woodland, facing south. It received summer water the first few years, but not since then, because Sunset Western Garden Book advised re: Cornus nuttallii, part of Eddie's cross: "Give infrequent summer water."

I did water it more last summer, as it was so hot and dry in our area. And it finally bloomed!

My question--Do you think that the bloom this spring was the result of more water during the summer, or did the tree have to reach a certain age to start blooming each spring?


There are several reasons that Dogwoods fail to flower. Flowering dogwood does need regular water, according to Sunset's 2001 edition. Other possibilities might be the age of the tree, and extreme temperatures, such as cold, which may kill the buds.

I would suggest continuing to water and see if it flowers again next season.

There is some discussion about dogwoods failing to flower on the forum of University of British Columbia Botanical Garden. Possible reasons include the age of the tree (not applicable in your case), excessive use of fertilizer, cold damage to buds, lack of sun, and more.

The book 1000 Gardening Questions & Answers (The New York Times) has a section entitled, "Why Won't It Bloom." Reasons that dogwood may not flower are similar to those described above:

    1. Overfertilizing - creates excessive foliage
    2. Excessive Shade - need at least 4 to 5 hours a day and more sun means more flowers
    3. Frosts or droughts - at the wrong time (Dogwoods need lots of moisture and we have had several years of drought)
    4. Pruning - removing the flower buds unintentionally

Date 2018-04-11
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May 23 2018 14:32:42