Dear Master gardeners,
I am looking for a flowering, non-fruiting, drought-resistant native tree which can tolerate clay soil. Ideally something which will not grow much larger than 5-6m tall. This is for a rental property that the client does not want to take care of. I already have a spice bush as part of the plan. Do you have any tips for me?
Thanks for sharing your time and resources!
Thanks for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners about choosing a tree for your property.
Will the light available for your tree be the same as for the spicebush that is part pf your plan, full sun to part shade ?
In general flowering trees produce fruit of some kind if they have been pollinated – are you looking for a tree that is not a fruit tree, meaning one that produces fruit for human consumption ? I know some of these can be messy when the fruit falls to the ground, and that may be what you want to avoid.
Below are some suggestions for your consideration. All are native to southern Ontario.
Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis) produces stunning tiny rose-purple flowers which bloom profusely on bare branches in early spring before the foliage emerges. Height 5m, Spread 5m.
Grey dogwood (Cornus racemosa) produces attractive small creamy white flower clusters that emerge in the early summer. Height 5m, Spread 5m.
Serviceberry (Amelanchier laevis) produces clusters of white flowers on bare branches in early spring before the foliage emerges. It also has outstanding orange-red fall color. Height 5m, Spread 5m.
There is a wonderful non-profit program in Toronto called LEAF that is worth a look. They have a backyard tree planting program that is a great way to get a lovely native tree for your backyard. They will help you choose a tree that will do best in your conditions. Here is a link to their website :
Overall I think your clay soil will be a main consideration in choosing a tree. Here is a helpful website from the Missouri Botanical Garden that provides a list of trees including small ornamental trees that can handle clay soil :
The Toronto Master Gardeners have created a Garden Guide for flowering trees and shrubs that might be helpful. It is available on our website. Here is a link to this guide :
Finally, here are a couple of websites that provide lists of native trees and information about each tree that you might find useful :
Good luck with your search !