Deck Plants/Potted Trees

samzenApril 18, 2007

I am wanting to plant a few 5-6 foot potted plant/shrub/trees to obstruct the neighboring embassy's view. There is full sun, and they do not have to be evergreen. Any suggestions (your top 5 choices) on what could grow well?

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You could plant a vine, Last year I did something similar with Morning Glory and Moonflower. This year I got a Coral Honesuckle, and some Cardinal Climber (the hummingbirds will love it!!). Christy

    Bookmark   April 18, 2007 at 1:21PM
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thistle5(z7 VA)

Potted plants will require a bit more attention than ones grown in the ground, my top 3 would be 1)Japanese maples 2)camellias (would need some shade) 3)conifers (chamaecyparis, box, pines, etc.). You could also do a potager, w/ herbs, tomatoes, peppers-but w/out an evergreen structure or extensive hardscaping, it would look pretty bare in the winter.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2007 at 5:37PM
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annebert(6b/7a MD)

I've been growing a crape myrtle and a number of hydrangeas in big pots for several years and they've done well (and survived this winter). Tardiva (which is a cultivar of peegee) hydrangea does well in quite a bit of sun. How about a small holly - I've seen plants for sale that are female with a grafted male branch so that you get berries.

In DC you're effectively zone 8. You might want to go to the Ripley garden near the Museum of Science and Industry to get other ideas. I think the gardener does tours on Tuesday afternoon, and you might get a chance to ask her advice.

Whatever oyu decide, I'd recommend not to have 5-6 of the same thing in a straight line, but different plants in clusters.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2007 at 10:06PM
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    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 8:31PM
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I have a number of lilacs in containers and they grow very well. During warm weather I have my citrus, brugmansias, plumerias and a number of other tropical/sub-tropical container trees outside. The brugs will easily reach 8' and get very full by mid summer and they can be cut way back and stored in the garage over the winter.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2007 at 6:07PM
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dgs9r(z7 Baltimore, MD)

I just posted about oleander, and then saw your reply here. I'm just starting container gardening. Do you mind sharing which tropicals you are able to grow successfully using this inside-outside method?

I would love to grow container tropicals!

    Bookmark   April 25, 2007 at 2:00PM
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thistle5(z7 VA)

I'm not Karyn, (although I'd love to hear more about your brugs, Karyn, I've never grown them & I'd love to try some), but I have grown a few tropicals that live outside in the summer & in an unheated sunporch or the garage in the winter. I have hibiscus, bird of paradise, ponytail palm, pandan palm (that's what it's supposed to be, but I'm doubtful), aloe, monstera, begonias, ficus (fiddleleaf & Belize), & alot of orchids! I also dug up my dahlias, colocasia, & dwarf Cavendish banana last fall, put them in the garage-they're outside again now, but no signs of life yet. I also have a musa basjoo, windmill palm, & about 5 figs in the ground-figs & palm look fine, no sign of the basjoo yet. I love the look of tropicals, just wish I had more space to overwinter them, if I win the lottery, I'll convert my house to a full-sized greenhouse!

    Bookmark   April 25, 2007 at 6:11PM
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Hi Deepti,
I grow just about everything in containers with no problem. Some tropicals go dormant or semi-dormant in the winter. It's not a response to the cooler temps but to the shortened hours of daylight. I have a huge variety of container plants but the biggest are the plumeria, brugmansia, iochromas, topiary jasmines, hibiscus, Madagascar palms, passifloras, citrus, papaya, the list goes on. I prefer flowering plants (especially fragrant) to foliage plants. I have a greenhouse that I use for wintering over some plants, others I keep inside the house. I have a room set up with a couple 1000 watt HID lights, humidifers and seed mats (for propagation). We don't heat the greenhouse warm enough to keep many of my tropical plants in there. The fuel cost can be prohibitive. Heating it to 55 the winter before last ran $8000 and many of my tropicals need temps around 70.

I just trimmed back some of my brugs and am rooting the cuttings to bring to the swap. Normally they are pruned in the fall but some were looking lanky so I trimmed them back the other day.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2007 at 6:37PM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

karyn1, do you have any photos of your grow room? I have a 9x11 spare bedroom with an assortment of lights: 400 watt HID, T5 high output, shop lights, compact fluorescents. It totals about 1000 watts. I do this for the same reason you do - can't afford to heat a greenhouse to the temps the tropicals would like.

My indoor/outdoor tropicals are tropical hibiscus, elephant ears, cannas, caladiums, brugmansia, dipladenia, allamanda, tropical waterlilies, umbrella palm, and dwarf papyrus.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2007 at 7:46AM
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dgs9r(z7 Baltimore, MD)

Hmm. I wonder if I could use my basement to store those containers that won't fit in the garage. I have a large, dry basement that houses our two cats, ping pong, laundry, and sundry. There's plenty of room to store containers. There's a bit of natural light; but mostly we turn on the fluorescents (several 48" tubes all over the basement) a couple of times a day when we're down there. Of course, it might be a pain to get large containers down the outside steps into the basement in the Fall, and then back up in the Spring.

Do you think there's any difference between the unheated and mostly dark garage v. the warmer basement as far as overwintering container tropicals goes? Do you differentiate between putting some tropicals in the garage v. inside the house?

Thistle, why do you dig up your dahlia's? I thought they can stay in the ground here. I just bought a bag from costco.

I want to grow plumeria, brugs, caladium, canna, jasmine, for starters, though I'll probably go overboard and add others. Has anyone tried tuberoses? I have a weakness for fragrant and flowering plants!

In NC, I had a trellis covering an entire garage wall full of confederate jasmine, and when the entire trellis bloomed each May, the perfume was unbelieveable! I don't suppose confed jasmine would grow here. It was evergreen, too, down there.

Many thanks for your replies!

    Bookmark   April 26, 2007 at 9:27AM
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Deepti I grow tuberoses but have to lift the bulbs in the fall (when I remember). I also start them inside in Feb because our season isn't long enough to get blooms on all varieties, especially the doubles. Most of my dahlia tubers freeze if I leave them in the ground though a few hardy ones will return in the spring. A dim garage that remains above freezing in the winter is fine for storing plants that go dormant like plumerias and brugs. Any tropicals that don't go completely dormant need warmth and light. I use a downstairs recroom to store most of my plants. I have a different room for the orchids and the overflow gets scattered wherever I can find the space.

Watergal here's some pics of the room in my house where I keep the plants (it's an absolute mess and I hate having them inside!) and a couple pics of the greenhouse. I can't get the entire room or greenhouse in the pics. The room in my house has a good amount of afternoon light but not enough to keep the plants healthy. It also has a stone floor so I don't worry about water. It does get quite cool down there so the heat generated from the HID lights is a plus.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2007 at 1:35PM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

karyn1, thanks for the photos!! My grow room is WAY messier than yours, so much so that I have yet to take ANY photos of it. Every year I say I'm going to straighten it up, but then more plants sneak in there. I don't mind having them in the house too much, although I would much prefer the basement or garage with a cement floor and no carpeting and no way for drips to sneak through and spot the kitchen ceiling! Not to mention that flight of stairs to drag the plants up and down...

dgs9r, as far as garage vs. basement, you must keep your tropicals above freezing all the time. Your garage may or may not meet this, depending on where it's sited, how well it's insulated, etc. Cool and dim is best for dormant tropicals. I've found they do better that way - fewer bugs, especially fewer spider mites - than warm and dim or even warm and moderate light. I keep some actively growing in a warm room with lots of grow lights, but even then they get lanky because I just can't afford enough lights for all of them.

Some tropicals can go totally dormant over the winter, some semi-dormant, some need to stay active. Do a search for "overwintering tropicals" to find some lists. Not all lists will agree, however. (I once started a very opinionated debate among tropical hibiscus experts on whether hibiscus could be stored dormant or not. Some people have done it, others say it's simply impossible or a very bad idea.)

I've just started the cool, dim room approach myself. So far it has worked well for a bougainvilla, an upright elephant ear and a lotus. I store my canna rhizomes in a dark box in a cool place. If I can steal more basement space from my husband next year, I'd like to try more types. It is just so much easier to put the pots in the basement and check the water every few weeks than it is to keep them actively growing and bug free all winter. (Black Runner elephant ears and water hyacinths will succumb to mites in my warm grow room in a matter of weeks.)

    Bookmark   April 27, 2007 at 2:24PM
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I grow in the winter:
ficus benjamin tree
sago palm
white bird of paradise
mandevilla vine

and they all survive and perk up just fine in the spring when I put them outside.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2007 at 2:42PM
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dgs9r(z7 Baltimore, MD)

Thanks to all of you for sharing your experiences with overwintering tropicals. Watergal, there must be some invention somewhere that'll allow us to take heavy pots down into the basement w/o breaking DH's and our backs.

I think I will just give the whole thing a try. Put a couple in the garage (less space there), and a few in the basement. See what survives. I'll check into "overwintering tropicals" to educate myself a bit.

Looking forward to seeing you all saturday.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2007 at 12:37PM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

deepti, saving DH's back?? Oh, no, the gardening obsession all goes on me. He gives me permission to do pretty much what I want, and doesn't complain too much about the money or the dirt and leaves on the floor, but I have to haul my own stuff. He even guilts me into helping him dig and move his darn azaleas when he decides to rearrange them.

I have seen a special handcart that has a gripper that goes over pot lips to wheel them around (Charley's Greenhouse catalog/website), but that still wouldn't solve the stair issue.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2007 at 5:29PM
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Can someone recommend a good nursery between Capitol Hill and Herndon (off the toll road) to get a crepe myrtle or a camillia for a potted patio location. Will the crepe work for a norther exposure or does it need more light? (there is a large building behind the patio so almost all of the light is indirect.) Any other suggestions for flowering trees I can pot that would work in this location?

    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 6:49PM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

I wouldn't recommend the crepe for your low light situation.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2007 at 7:25AM
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Thanks watergal. I was afraid of that.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2007 at 7:58AM
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