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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.

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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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Monday - May 18, 2009

From: Old Orchard Beach, ME
Region: Northeast
Topic: Container Gardens
Title: Container plants for deck in Maine
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live on the ocean in Maine. Fourth floor deck. I want to plant containers and boxes with annuals that can withstand a lot of wind. We get mostly sun but some shade as well. Of course, there is the salt factor, too. Any recommendations??

ANSWER:

First, we need to explain to you that the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the planting, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which the plants are being grown. Ordinarily, to answer this question we would go to our Native Plant Database, and search on Maine, annual, and sun to part shade. When we did this, we really found very little appropriate to your purposes. We recommend native plants, because many non-natives can become invasive, taking over natural habitats, and because they are adapted to the climate, rainfall and soil of the area where they are being grown. None of these seems likely to apply in the artificial habitat you are creating. In order to raise the natives we were able to find, and because of your short growing season and the extreme conditions, you would have to start seeds indoors, and then put them in containers when it was warm enough for them to survive. So, we would recommend that you go to a local nursery and select plants already in bloom or about to bloom, plant them in good potting soil, and you should be able to enjoy the flowers until the first freeze. Few, if any, of those plants are likely to be native to Maine, so giving you a list of plants from our database is kind of pointless. As high as your garden will be, with the ocean winds, and unprotected as the plants will be in pots, you may have to experiment to even find suitable plants. Sorry we couldn't help you.

 

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