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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - May 24, 2007

From: Dallas, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Container Gardens
Title: Choosing large containers (pots) for plants in Dallas, Texas.
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Hi, I was wondering if you could help me pick a plant for a container garden. We live in Dallas, TX. Our soil is very clay, but I thought we could do something fun in containers with sand or something. Would it be possible for us to grow blueberries or some other fruit in a shady area? I wouldn't want to bring it in when the weather gets cold (big containers).

ANSWER:

Blueberries and most other fruit-bearing plants prefer full sun to perform well. If your container garden must be in the shade, your choices for fruiting shrubs and trees will be limited. Moreover, blueberries require acid soil, so you would need to amend container's soil substantially to lower the pH. A nice choice for a shady area container would be American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana). It should be noted, though, that the fruit of this plant is not edible. Regardless of what you choose to plant in your container, you will need to amend your clayey soil to loosen it up some. Thoroughly mixing one part commercial potting mix to two parts soil is probably about right for most plants in large containers. Container-grown plants tend to dry out faster than those in the ground, so you will need to keep a close eye on them, especially during summer. In winter, container-grown plants are more susceptible to cold because the roots are much more likely to freeze in an exposed location.
 

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