En Español

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
1 rating

Thursday - October 02, 2008

From: Fredericksburg, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Non-Natives, Container Gardens
Title: Plants for pots outdoors in winter in Virginia
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, I was wondering what plants would be best to grow outdoors, in pots, in Virginia, in the winter? This is a lot of restrictions but we just need 2-3 plants for our office patio because we hired a disabled woman to tend to our plants during the summer and we would like to have something for her to do in the winter also. Thanks, Becca

ANSWER:

Since at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center we only deal with plants native to North America, we may not be able to find much that will grow outside under the conditions you describe and be attractive on your patio. Just for openers, read our How-To Article Container Gardening. Unfortunately, about all it says about potted plants in the winter is that they need to be protected with blankets, etc. or moved into the garage. That's probably not what you had in mind.

Much as we hate to admit it, Mr. Smarty Plants may have struck out on this one. We searched on shrubs, in hopes of something evergreen and perhaps with decorative berries, but just about all of them seemed to be deciduous in your zone, and all were going to grow up very big, at least for a pot. Just about all flowering plants native to your area are going to die back by the end of October, and not reappear again until April or so. However, we can find some websites for you that might help you select plants non-native to North America that will satisfy your needs. Since most large commercial nurseries deal in more non-natives than natives, anyway, you should be able to easily find some suitable choices. Since Fredericksburg appears to be in Zone 7a, you should be able to have some decorative plants on your patio all winter. 

DIY Network - Winter Container Basics

About.com - Tips for Fall and Winter Container Gardening

Molbak's - Plants for Fall and Winter Container Gardening

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Dry, brown leaves on non-native weeping willow
August 03, 2008 - Hello! I live in Pennsylvania I have 5 weeping willows I planted 3 years ago. All seemed well until last week I noticed suddenly one looks like it might be dying!? All the leaves are dry & brown. T...
view the full question and answer

Overwintering Ruellia brittoniana in Missouri
October 03, 2015 - I live in Missouri and have five beautiful Mexican Petunia or Ruellia brittoniana planted and established in my landscaping. With winter fast approaching, I would love advise on how to winterize the p...
view the full question and answer

Advantages of using native plants
March 28, 2015 - Hello. My question is not about a specific plant but a more general question about natives. I am writing a research paper and am interested in finding seminal research that explains why we should us...
view the full question and answer

Space between trees from Blythewood SC
April 05, 2013 - I'm planting 4 green giants in a back corner of my yard. I also have a kumquat tree to plant. I have somewhat limited space. What is the minimum spacing between the four green giants and the green gi...
view the full question and answer

Native alternatives for Japanese maple
September 05, 2007 - Hi, I am a landscaper trying to create a landscape in a shaded area with no sun. The person likes a Acer palmatum, but I am not sure it will grow there. We live in South Lake Tahoe. So I know of some ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center