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Tall plants for narrow bed?

Posted by amyinaustin (My Page) on
Fri, Oct 8, 10 at 16:13

I have a long narrow bed down the east side of my Austin house. It receives a ton of sun, but the soil is a fairly depleted poorly-drained clay-type.

I had intended to grow cannas down the length, but my first batch is being ravaged by *** (caterpillars? grasshoppers? this doesn't look like leaf-rollers as the young, new leaves are fine). I've also decided I'd like something a bit less thirsty. So my requirements are:

- Full sun
- Fairly drought tolerant
- Fairly pest tolerant
- Tall enough to cover the skirt of the house somewhat

For the right plant, I could amend the soil or widen the bed up to two feet. I love lavender, but I killed the only one I tried to grow and it seems they are a bit difficult. I know that morning glory grows very very well on our lot, and I considered placing a trellis against the back of the bed for morning glory and maybe creeping thyme across the front. But I think that I'd prefer some large bushes...Sage? Pride of barbados? What grows best? Something native would be perfect � thought I must admit that the Turk's cap and lantana I have nearby are pretty "weedy" looking.

I love the look of large succulents, and considered doing a row of yucca with silver ponyfoot to cover the bed. But I'm assuming yuccas are a) expensive b)require more than 2' to be happy.

Thanks for any advice!

Here is a link that might be useful: Photo of bed

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Tall plants for narrow bed?

Have you considered Nandinas? I happen to like them for difficult spots like this. Well, I like them for a lot of spots.

They are tall and narrow, won't flop, drought tolerant, white flowers in spring, red berries in winter, evergreen leaves that turn red in winter, no diseases, faithfully always there. A nick name for Nandina is 'heavenly bamboo', which I think it deserves.

RE: Tall plants for narrow bed?

I have a similar bed...we call it the Sahara. It borders concrete.

What has succeeded there that is tall? Well, it helps to have a soaker hose in it.

Flame acanthus, that purple fountain grass, I think Tithonia would be happy, if you have enough water and some shade horse tail. Mine has gone wild in a spot that gets wet from a drip in the hose. But it added interest for several years when it was really dry.
Mexican honeysuckle...doesn't look like honeysuckle but that's what was on the label.

RE: Tall plants for narrow bed?

Bush Germender (Teucrium fruticans)evergreen and easy to prune.

Red Yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora)evergreen w/soft leaves
there is also a yellow form (you have to look for this one)

Bicolor Iris (Dietes bicolor)evergreen will need some water
during our dry summers.
I suppose it also depends on how tall you want your plants to be.
Kind of a small bed for some of theses plants. The canna's
would need dividing every year.

If you can fint it "Will Fleming" Yaupon Holly (will need some supplemental water also.

RE: Tall plants for narrow bed?

I'd research all suggestions well, with particular attention to the appearance and size of the mature plant.

If you can widen the bed a couple of feet, upright rosemary might be your best bet--evergreen and some summer color. Since you're planting against a concrete foundation, you might raise the bed a little by working in some soil amendments. Gulf Stream nandina would also maintain at 30 to 36 inches without a lot of fuss and bother. No blooms or berries, though, and I haven't tried to grow it in full sun.

RE: Tall plants for narrow bed?

Thanks whitecap, I like the nandina suggestion, and I have one nearby so I know it would do fine. And I widened the bed yesterday after realizing it was impractical to fit anything very tall with so little depth. Right now I'm thinking either:
- A combination of red yucca and flame acanthus with silver ponyfoot in between
- A nandina (probably Gulf Stream)
- Bush germander or Texas sage

RE: Tall plants for narrow bed?

does it need to be evergreen? you might try something like basil. they get big and love the heat. You can also mix in cosmos for color. or sunflowers.

RE: Tall plants for narrow bed?

Standing cypress would be pretty.

RE: Tall plants for narrow bed?

Maybe clumping bamboo? After dealing with termites recently, I wouldn't plant anything too close to the foundation.

RE: Tall plants for narrow bed?

Nandina is frowned on in Austin because they are invassive and the birds love to carry the berries into the wild parklands. Clumping bamboo might do a number on your foundation. Lavender hates clay soil. Rosemary will need ammendment if the ground is clay but will not be as picky as lavendar. There are small agaves (A. parryi var truncata, A. Lophantha quadrifolia, X Manfreda Macho moca, Yucca glauca, Pale leafed yucca; Yucca pallida) that will go with the Red false yucca. Make sure you get the small one. Some of the hesperaloes that they have get large while others stay compact. The ground will need some drainage added to it.

Some salvias will love that spot. Salvia gregii, Grey oak sage salvia macrophylla, also Mexican oregano (good in beans).Firecracker fern, Maximilian sunflower.

RE: Tall plants for narrow bed?

I'd plant salvias there.

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