En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Thursday - April 03, 2008

From: Staten Island , NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Dwarf evergreen shrub for windowboxes in Staten Island , NY
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Could you recommend a dwarf evergreen shrub, not deciduous that also has pretty flowers that would thrive in a container in the northeast...area would have sun for about 4 -5 hrs per day. Is there a small evergreen that would survive in window boxes all year here? Something that would look great all year round? Any suggestions would be appreciated. Would also like to string white lights on front lawn tree all year round...do you know of a resource where I could purchase commercial quality, low voltage lighting? Thank you very much

ANSWER:

Last question first, electricity stuff is WAY our of our line. We try to ignore electricity altogether, hoping it will work and not bother us. You can probably find a good selection at any of the big home improvement stores, that seems to be the sort of thing they carry a lot of.

Your other request, for year round evergreen shrubs that will thrive in a container, is difficult. It's a little hard to tell from this USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map for the Northeast U.S., but it looks like Staten Island is in Zone 5a, which means you will have average minimum temperatures of -15 deg to -20 deg. While we may be able to find some evergreen shrubs that could, with careful pruning, remain in a windowbox for some time, remember that when a plant is in the ground, its roots are insulated by the whole Earth. When it is in a windowbox, they are insulated with a few inches of potting soil. In very low temperatures, covering the plant will do the roots no good. If the roots freeze, the plant dies. We found precisely two shrubs that are considered evergreen in New York, Gaultheria procumbens (eastern teaberry) and Ilex opaca (American holly). Neither of these will necessarily stay in bounds or permit pruning that would keep them small. There are a few conifers that stay evergreen there, but they have long, deep roots, and could not survive in a container.

We would refer you again, as we did the last time you wrote, to The Cornell University Department of Horticulture website on Trees and Shrubs for more local information.


Gaultheria procumbens

Gaultheria procumbens

Ilex opaca

Ilex opaca

 

 

 

More Shrubs Questions

Shrubs for house landscaping in Virginia
September 01, 2009 - I would like suggestions for types of shrubs to be planted in front of my house.
view the full question and answer

Support for non-native, invasive Nandina Domestica from San Antonio, TX
July 09, 2013 - I consider nandina domestica to be a perfect plant for San Antonio, but see that it is on the list of invasive plants for surrounding eco-areas. How should I respond regarding one of my favorite land...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification of shrub with thorns and purple flowers
July 05, 2011 - I have a small tree or shrub, it has very small or thin thorns on the branches. It blooms in April / May. The flowers are purple. My mother-in-law said that it has been around for over 100 years, b...
view the full question and answer

Shrubs for New Hampshire
June 25, 2009 - Will be landscaping next Spring: Do you think using 'Ilex Crenata'-Japanese Holly together with variegated Euonymus (species: fortunei) as shrub hedges in front of our house is a good combo? Do they...
view the full question and answer

How to Control Pests on Plants for Sale
May 15, 2014 - I am renting a closed spot at a flea market, and am having trouble with several infestations at once, and I am not sure how to control them. I am currently having trouble with aphids, whiteflies, and ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center