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
4 ratings

Monday - August 17, 2009

From: New York, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Privacy screen for New York apartment balcony.
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Hello, I live in an apartment in New York City with an outdoor large balcony. I would like to buy evergreens to make the space more private. Do you have any suggestions on what type of plant would be best? I would need to buy plants that will survive the winter outdoors. Ideally, something with some height (maybe four feet?) and that can be planted in pots. Thanks!

ANSWER:

In general, we would discourage attempting to do what you have in mind.  While many evergreen plants grow well in containers, potted plants are particularly susceptible to freezing due to the increased exposure of the plants' roots.  The earth acts as a giant heat sink and moderates the temperature of the soil around the roots of plants in nature.  Even in areas of permafrost, roots of plants growing below the frost layer are protected.  Containerized plants growing outdoors have no such protection and will invariably sustain substantial - often fatal - freezing damage to roots.  Further exacerbating the problem is the exposed nature of apartment balconies.  As habitats, they're something akin to alpine bluffs where little grows at all and nothing grows in a lush manner.  We know of no native evergreens suitable for yearround outdoor container-growing in New York.

 

More Privacy Screening Questions

Need suggestions for a privacy screen besides Murray Cypress.
October 18, 2011 - Mr. Smarty Plants, I live in NE TX, about an hour east of Dallas on I-20. I hear interstate traffic behind my house, and have a busy street on its left side, and a school adjoining in back. I thi...
view the full question and answer

Is purple bindweed good for a screen growing on a fence?
September 12, 2012 - We cleared a bunch of dead trees and tree limbs (mostly cedars and some oaks) on our semi-rural property in Driftwood and now we're left with an undesirable view onto the neighboring property. We're...
view the full question and answer

Care of non-native Buddha Belly bamboos
November 08, 2014 - I have several budha belly bamboos. They froze down last winter. I have got them back to 5 ft. I need them around 8-10 for privacy. Any suggestions? Also how to I protect them this winter?
view the full question and answer

Plant screen for Comfort TX
November 23, 2009 - My house sits on a hill between Fredericksburg and Comfort. Darn, if my neighbors didn't build so close to my property line that I can see into their cabin when the trees drop their leaves in the f...
view the full question and answer

Plants for Liberty Hill TX in full sun
April 15, 2008 - We recently bought an acre of land in Liberty Hill, TX. We have a large planting area in the front that is devoid of any plant life. I would like to turn this into a semi shaded area with some annua...
view the full question and answer

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