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 and trees over septic tank in Killen AL
May 20, 2013 - Our church has 5year old blue rug juniper, a crape myrtle and two shrubs I can't identify planted over the septic tank which is surrounded with concrete and asphalt. I am afraid these will cause a pr...
view the full question and answer

Plant Suggestions for a Partly Sunny Steep Bank in Illinois
November 09, 2013 - I am looking to plant something on a steep clay bank on our Illinois property. It is on the edge of our dirt road with trees above the bank and is partly sunny. What would work best for that type of a...
view the full question and answer

Wax myrtle problems from Driftwood TX
September 04, 2010 - We planted 27 wax myrtles on the perimeter of our property last year and were diligent about watering them throughout the drought. They are in very rocky soil (we had to use a jackhammer to dig the ho...
view the full question and answer

Fast-growing drought-resistant hedge for California
September 03, 2013 - We're looking for a fast growing, drought resistant shrub that will grow in clay soil and can be used for a hedge around our property.
view the full question and answer

Pruning of non-native Senna bicapsularis from Ocean Springs MS
April 04, 2013 - I have 4 Senna plants (cassia bicapsularis) that I planted late last spring. They about 3-4 feet tall but are very gangly with leaves at or near the tips only. How should I prune them to encourage g...
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