Slow growing patio tree?

dottyinduncan(z8b coastal BC)February 1, 2014

Any suggestions? I have had a Cercis in the pot for the past 4 or 5 years, but it is now too big and unhappy so I need a replacement. Appreciate any thoughts.

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Bradybb WA-Zone8

A dwarf Mulberry,Girardi only gets to about six feet and is fairly slow.Mine hasn't grown much in about two years,but put out quite a bit of tasty fruit.
I have a Black Beauty also and they take awhile,but can reach thirty feet but could be pruned.The one I have is in the ground and is still small.
I just looked up pictures of the Cercis.The Mulberries will not even compete with the beauty of that in bloom.
Another one is the Cornelian Cherry,Cornus mas.I like to grow fruit,so that's why I'm mentioning these.I've read a number of times,that they need two different varieties to cross pollinate,but mine does fine.It makes a nice container plant. Brady

Cornelian Cherry in the Spring

and the Summer

This post was edited by Bradybb on Sun, Feb 2, 14 at 20:10

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 11:36PM
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dottyinduncan(z8b coastal BC)

The Mulberry looks like an interesting choice. Will check it out further.
Thanks Bradybb.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 1:19AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Do not place a mulberry where stains would be a bother.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 2:28PM
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dottyinduncan(z8b coastal BC)

Oh, thanks. That will rule it out then. Very light coloured tiles on the morning court.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 10:53PM
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mikebotann(8a SE of Seattle)

Why not a try your hand at bonsai?
My youngest daughter did this one when she was in high school about 15 years ago. It's a Juniper chinensis, 'Torulosa'. I've been taking care of it on and off since then. :-)
Mike

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 1:56PM
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PRO
George Three LLC

Ulmus x hollandica 'Jacqueline Hillier'

great bark, easy to prune to keep in check and to form. no messy at all, the leaves drop very late and are an easy cleanup.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 2:00PM
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OregonGrape

Some of the taller, tree-like manzanitas are often grown in containers. Examples include Dr. Hurd, Austin Griffiths, and Monica. You'd want to use a ligher soil (I use "cactus mix"), drill extra holes into the bottom, and put the container up on 1/2" spacers to ensure good drainage.

The only potential problem might be hardiness. The above cultivars are hardy to somewhere between 0 and 5 F in the ground. In a container, I imagine that the roots might get into trouble with consecutive lows in the low teens. I don't know how close to the coast you are or what your climate is like up there.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 5:56PM
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dottyinduncan(z8b coastal BC)

Both of these look like good candidates. I'll check them out at my favorite nursery. I live on southern Vancouver Island, not far inland so we have a fairly mild climate, hot in the summer. Thanks for the suggestions.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 2:10AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

If you want a pot to drain better you have the bottom in contact with the surface beneath it - otherwise water will "hesitate" before crossing the gap.

That is why a layer of rocks in the bottom of a pot makes the soil above wetter rather than drier, with the frequent result that the effective useful portion of the soil in a pot is the upper half only. Drainage sensitive kinds like rhododendrons often come out of pots with no roots in the bottom half for this reason.

The bottom of the pot acts as a barrier to drainage, with or without a layer of gravel above it.

Due to its vigorous growth and angularity of branching I do not find 'Jacqueline Hillier' easy to keep in a smaller space than it wants to occupy at all.

An easily obtained one that does make an interesting container specimen is the [Twisty Baby] = 'Lace Lady' black locust. In the ground it takes off but in a pot it produces a "living sculpture" of modest size - the promotion of its behavior under such circumstances having generated confusion over its growth potential when released from confinement.

This post was edited by bboy on Tue, Feb 4, 14 at 2:18

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 2:16AM
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dottyinduncan(z8b coastal BC)

bboy, Lace Lady looks interesting. Since it is poisonous, my Bambis should leave it alone so I might think of putting this in another area that gets full sun. I'll check with the nursery.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 2:26PM
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OregonGrape

Agreed that rocks in the bottom of the pot are no good. And while it certainly helps to have an object wick water away from the drainage hole(s) of your pot, you really do need good air flow underneath the pot if you're growing a plant that's sensitive to root moisture in the summer (like manzanitas). Placing a pot directly on the ground will deter evaporation from the bottom of the pot and cause problems. Additional holes in the bottom of the pot aid evaporation. It would probably be best to have the pot on spacers with a small object underneath the pot making contact with the soil above the center drainage hole. Mixing extra gravel into your potting soil helps with drainage as well.

See the info on pots and drainage here:

http://www.yerbabuenanursery.com/container_gardening.php#pots

Also, if you're growing a plant that likes dry conditions in the summer, classic terracotta pots work really well because they're gas-permeable. Glazed pots look nicer, but they retain a lot more moisture.

This post was edited by OregonGrape on Tue, Feb 4, 14 at 18:13

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 5:19PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Water stops when it encounters a difference, backs up until field capacity (saturation) is reached, then crosses the area of difference.

You also want pot bottoms in direct contact with the ground so that soil warmth helps protect the soil inside the pot from low temperatures - a plant container not in contact with the ground gets colder.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 2:54PM
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OregonGrape

Soil retains moisture in the bottom of a container when it's in constant contact with the ground and evaporation is not allowed to occur. That may be OK for many plants, but not drought-tolerant natives in the summer. Again, read what the experts have to say:

http://www.yerbabuenanursery.com/container_gardening.php#pots

The way to avoid freezing roots in the winter is to move the pot a warmer location, not to leave it on the frozen ground.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 3:44PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

I have read what the experts have to say, have been reading it for decades, and that is the basis for what I post.

And not something off of one commercial nursery's web site.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 11:50PM
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OregonGrape

My own experience in growing California salvias and manzanitas in containers tells me that the advice from the "commercial nursery" is spot-on, and that your methodology as applied to such drought-tolerant plants results in root rot and death.

You need to get past the notion that you know everything about everything, and that anybody who disagrees is wrong. Your attitude does this forum a disservice.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 1:16AM
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plantknitter(8)

I prefer that everyone here has a forum for his or her ideas.
Every idea (or attitude) can provide a service.

Then others can either take it or leave it as they prefer.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 1:57AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Yep.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 4:19PM
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mikebotann(8a SE of Seattle)

Why not have several trees? You could put them at center display when they're at their best and rotate them to the background at other times. To make it even more interesting pick some trees that require some artful pruning to hi-light their attributes... blooms, Fall color, bark, etc.
That way you could have a Plant of the Month, or quarter, or season.

Mike

    Bookmark   February 15, 2014 at 4:09PM
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mikebotann(8a SE of Seattle)

Eeldip, I like that Elm. I've never seen one of that variety before. Very interesting.
Manzanita would be a fun plant to grow. I have one planted out where it doesn't fit in my garden. I should have put it in a container and isolated it on the deck where I could prune it to look like an old growth, well grown Madrona. I know they don't move well, but in my case it might be worth a try.

I have a Mountain Hemlock, Tsuga, mertensiana, that makes for a good deck tree. It's very slow growing in a container, especially if you limit the container's size. The one pictured below is well over 25 years old and in that container since it was a one gallon size.
This one needs more pruning to make it more interesting. Make it look like it has been growing in an area with strong winds from one direction, somewhat similar to what it would experience in a lot of areas where it grows. Pruning at this scale is a lot of creative fun with very little work and cleanup.
Mike....sooo many choices!

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 1:18PM
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OregonGrape

I have a Tsuga mertensiana in the ground and have thought about purchasing another one to grow in a container on my deck. It is a fantastic small tree (small near sea level, at least).

I've heard that Western red cedar does well in containers as well.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 1:53PM
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dottyinduncan(z8b coastal BC)

I think I would like a deciduous tree, preferably one that has interesting form and colour. There are so many evergreens around here that I don't really want more. Unless they have a form or colour that adds lots of interest. Perhaps a chartreuse green colour.
I like eeldip's suggestion but have not yet visited my nursery to see whether they think some of these suggestions will do well here. It's great to have you all help me choose.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 11:26PM
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