Silicon Valley - Outdoor Potted plants

Azmordean(9-10)February 1, 2013

Evening all! I recently moved here to Silicon Valley (Mountain View specifically). My apartment has a small uncovered balcony/deck that I am thinking of putting some potted plants on to spruce up the look a bit. The balcony faces ESE and gets pretty good light, especially strong in the morning.

Ideally I am looking for plants that are easy to care for - I'm totally new to this. I also travel quite a bit, though I'd probably set up some kind of "hydrostake" watering type system for when I'm away for extended periods. Typically I am gone 1-2 weeks, but sometimes close to a month in the winter.

I am thinking of some hardy shrubs like lavender and rosemary. I am also considering small citrus trees as the idea of getting edible fruit sounds pretty neat! I am thinking specifically of a Meyer Lemon and/or an Omari Satsuma mandarin. I understand both of these are hardy and tolerant of lower temperatures.

Speaking of - temps here average low 50s (night) to upper 70s (day) in the summer with a few hot days as high as 100 and upper 30s (night) to upper 50s (day) in winter. I do get occasional freezes, from the mid 20s - low 30s, but they are very infrequent. I'd prefer to have plants I do not have to bring inside. My thought would be to put some Christmas lights or similar on the citrus trees in the winter to lend some warmth on the cooler nights.

Thoughts on this? Do these selections sound reasonable?

If I go with these - when is the optimal time to purchase / plant them?

Thanks in advance!

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Your plan sounds good to me. The Owari satsuma mandarin will tolerate temperatures into the teens. The Meyer lemon is ok with 25 degrees. What I would be concerned about is the Mix you use. Check the container gardening forum for mixes that will not water log if over watered. Al

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 9:16AM
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Yes all the plants you mentioned should thrive! I use "self-watering" containers for my balcony, bought at the Mountain View Walmart they have a tray at the bottom that holds extra water and a wick system that waters the plants without rotting the root (air still reaches them). With these containers the plants can go a week or so with no added water on my full-south facing balcony with no shade... see the link below, I found them in the outdoor garden area. I didn't make a custom mix although experienced container gardeners recommend it - I just used the nursery's mix for containers - it drains well. The citrus will need regular feeding.

I currently have potted dwarf Meyer lemon, thai lime, Sun Parasols (shrubby vine) and sweet bay topiary trees with climbing rosemary and a topiary fruitless olive tree. ALl of these I bought at Summerwinds nursery on San Antonia Rd in Mountain View - they have a great selection and helpful staff.

Welcome to the peninsula! I am in Palo Alto, been here 13 years and never want to leave.

Here is a link that might be useful: Self watering pot for balcony

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 12:29PM
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