Urgent help, please

kaihui(Z7 VA)November 20, 2005

I have to make a decision on how big my deck is very soon with my builder. I have a question here before I can make the decision on the deck size. Is there any chance I can grow evergreen trees in outdoor containers on t he deck? The tress can't be too big, 5 to 6 feet tall is ideal, and spread is prefer to be 2 to 3 ft. Conifers are good, but will also like to consider other trees. The containers will be made of wood, 1 ft wide, 1 ft deep (could be 1.5 ft deep if needed), and 5 ft long.

Does this kind of trees exist?

I live in central VA, zone 7.

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tabassam

I just bought a 3' variegated holly. Very showy and would look nice in a container.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2005 at 5:09PM
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aka_peggy(Central Md 6b)

1x1' is pretty small. When the weather is hot, you'll probably have to water it everyday. The larger the container the better. It's not uncommon to grow smaller conifers in containers. Familiarize yourself with bagworms. They're easy to control so long as you kill them early on. I'd definitely go with the longer deeper box.

You can grow most trees in containers as well. I have a sugar maple I started from seed about 6-7 yrs ago. It's in a pot that's 14" across and 18" deep. I abuse the heck out of it by not watering it enough. I've never fertilized it. It's presently about 6' tall and can be pruned to keep it on the small size. I'd consider plants that don't mind being on the dry side. If you have full sun, make sure you get a tree that likes full sun. Same goes for trees that prefer shade.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2005 at 11:00AM
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kaihui(Z7 VA)

Thank you bith very much. I just told the builder that I am going for a big deck (12x32) since I feel confident that I can bring lives on the deck.

Hi, Peggy, I am amazed by your success with sugar maple. Your pot is not super big, I certainly can make my wood box 18" deep as well. I don't want to make the box any wider than 12", but can make it 60" long. Is that big enough for some miniature conifers? (like Alberta Spruce?), or some hollies?

Kai

    Bookmark   November 21, 2005 at 2:36PM
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aka_peggy(Central Md 6b)

Kai, I'm pretty amazed by that maple tree myself.

Personally, I prefer hollies over alberta spruce. They're susceptible to spider mites which is hard to get rid of and you probably won't notice them until you see the damage...and they can look pretty ugly after an attack. Hollies are prettier (to me) and they don't have any serious problems. You could get a male and female so the female will get red berries that the birds love. Or, if there's a male holly in the neighborhood, you could plant 2 females. But you'll need a pollinator to get the berries. There are many types of hollies to choose from.

I think a holly would do fine in a 12X18" container...or you could go with the longer box. Make sure that you provide good drainage by adding several holes in the bottom.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2005 at 3:11PM
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kaihui(Z7 VA)

Hi, Peggy,
Thank you so much!

Would you please recommend 2 or 3 hollies? (I am ver new in gardening, and English is not my first language, many trees I know, but I just don't know their English names.). I live in central Virginia.

Kai

    Bookmark   November 21, 2005 at 3:42PM
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Larry K(7a)

Variegated false holly osmanthus 'Goshiki' is a gorgeous plant and doesn't get very big. I have one growing in a rather tough area partly under a maple and it's doing fine.

Larry

    Bookmark   November 21, 2005 at 3:43PM
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aka_peggy(Central Md 6b)

I'm not the best person to ask about recommending a holly. I have several but most of them are quite large. I would speak to someone at a local nursery and ask for recommendations. You should be aware that most are extremely slow growing. There are many dwarf's available but they're rather pricey and again...slow growing.

One thing I would consider is lining the wooden planter since the constant moisture will rot the wood after a few years.

Good luck~

    Bookmark   November 22, 2005 at 10:28AM
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kaihui(Z7 VA)

Thanks a loyt, every one. I run across a nice site.

http://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/plantfinder/Search.asp

Now, I think I know what I want from that site. Next I will work on how to find those plants.

I will also talk to local nurseries.

Kai

Here is a link that might be useful: Plant search site

    Bookmark   November 22, 2005 at 3:14PM
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tabassam

Variegated false holly osmanthus 'Goshiki' is on my 'want' list. It's beautiful and elegant. Larry, does it have fragrant flowers? Tabby

    Bookmark   November 22, 2005 at 9:26PM
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Larry K(7a)

It's supposed to have fragrant flowers but I didn't see any flowers at all this year. However, I only planted it in the spring so maybe it needs a year to settle in.

Larry

    Bookmark   November 23, 2005 at 8:13AM
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gardenpaws_VA(z7 NoVA)

Look at Foster holly - it's common as mud, but smallish, pretty, and the birds love it. Also, the blue hollies (eg Dragon Lady) would be good possibilities. There are enough hollies in people's landscaping that if you're close to your neighbors, you probably needn't worry too much about taking up deck space for a pollinator. Of course, if you want to get fancy, you could try grafting on a male branch of the appropriate species . . .

The osmanthus that Madsqopper mentioned is nice, but make sure you give it a fairly protected position. It's close to its northern limit here, and definitely does not like either very hot sun or cold blustery winds.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2005 at 1:34PM
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kaihui(Z7 VA)

Hi, Gardenpaw,
Foster Holly does look very pretty, and its attracting birds is abig bonus for me. The only thing is it can grow up to 20 ft. Will that suitable for containers?

I post a link to this message. It has the description of Foster Holly. Am I missing anything here? Maybe 20ft is its mature height if it is planted on ground, but in containers, they grow much smaller?

Thanks,

Kai

Here is a link that might be useful: Foster Holly

    Bookmark   November 23, 2005 at 2:01PM
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gardenpaws_VA(z7 NoVA)

I don't know of any upright holly that is really tiny at maturity, but the great thing about all hollies is that you can prune them hard and have them regrow. You can pretty much keep a Foster holly the size you want, providing you're willing to prune, and they're tough enough to survive being potted. BTW, your site notes that no pollinator is needed - even better!

Re pots/boxes, I would suggest 1) that you make your box just an outer shell, and keep the plantings in an inner plastic pot or tub, and 2) that you will do best using the holly as a corner planting and giving it its own, rather larger, container. 12" x 12", or even 12" x 18", is pretty small to keep a woody plant going during extreme weather in either summer or winter. Having greater length doesn't really give any benefit to one single plant growing in it.

If I had a deck and wanted a holly, I'd think about going with about a 24" cube. That would give the roots some room, some insulation, and some decent moisture-holding capabilities, and bulbs or some small flowers could be planted around the edge if wanted.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2005 at 11:42PM
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kaihui(Z7 VA)

Hi, Gardenpaws,
Thanks a lot! That's really a good news. I think I will get some Foster Hollies. They do look very pretty.

24" pot? I will see whether I can do it. I will try. Thanks a lot.

Kai

    Bookmark   November 26, 2005 at 10:26AM
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gardengranma(6a/6b MD)

My deck is about 16 feet by 8 feet and I put Banana plants and Brugmansia on the deck. It looked pretty good to me last year./ I do bring them in in the fall, so that may not be so ideal for you.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2005 at 5:43PM
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