Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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
Not Yet Rated

Monday - May 18, 2009

From: Portsmouth, NH
Region: Northeast
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Non-native lilac in a pot in New Hampshire
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live in an apartment with a balcony that gets morning sun but is in the shade by 3 pm. Can I plant a lilac in a pot? What perennial would do well in New Hampshire? I love lilacs and would like to have a lilac on the balcony. HELP!!

ANSWER:

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the care and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which the plant is being grown. Plants accustomed to the climate, rainfall and soil of an area will need less water, fertilizer and maintenance. Syringa vulgaris, common lilac, is native to southeastern Europe and therefore out of our range of expertise.However, a probably more compelling reason for you not to plant a lilac in a pot on your balcony is that a lilac bush is just way too big. They can grow to 8 to 15 feet tall and 6 to 12 feet wide. Worse, they only bloom about 2 weeks in the Spring. 

Without the protection of being in the ground, the roots of a potted plant are very susceptible to freezing and you likely don't have room to bring your pots in during the winter to keep them in dormancy. We would recommend that you go to a nursery and ask for advice on what they have that will accept your planting conditions. They probably won't be native plants but since it's unlikely that potted plants on a deck will escape cultivation and invade native habitats, we doubt that is a problem. 

 

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Dwarf Form of Japanese Blueberry?
March 17, 2016 - Is there a dwarf variety of Japanese blueberry that will grow in my area? Or is it so non-native that it's not in your category?
view the full question and answer

Yellowing of non-native eggplant in Temple TX
October 28, 2009 - I planted egg plants in my raised bed garden for the first time this season. The plants are healthy and have produced a number of beautiful small white fruit with purple accent (spots). However, the f...
view the full question and answer

Care of non-native Oleander
June 11, 2008 - I want my oleanders to bloom but they keep getting attacked by tiny orange aphids that clump up on the newest growth. I read that oleanders only bloom on old growth but those orange mites/aphids are ...
view the full question and answer

Disposal of non-native invasive clerodendron
August 15, 2007 - What do you do about clerodendron that is spreading like wildfire. A friend gave me one plant before I was acquainted with invasives!!
view the full question and answer

Non-native gardenia in Cedar Park, TX
October 07, 2009 - My gardenia, which is planted in a large pot, drops the buds before they bloom. What do I need to do. I already fertilize it with gardenia food.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.