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
3 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 plants for a privacy screen in Arlington, VA.
June 22, 2011 - I am looking for a tall-growing tree/shrub to act as a privacy screen with neighbors on two existing borders, including, e.g., blocking out the neighbors tall swing set gym, deck, and other activity, ...
view the full question and answer

FAST GROWING PRIVACY PLANTS IN EL PASO, TEXAS
October 11, 2010 - Hello, First, I am totally ignorant of plants,trees planting,etc. However, I just moved to El Paso, Tx and find every home is surrounded by these hideous rock walls, which aren't nearly tall enough t...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen hedge for screen in Austin
November 02, 2008 - We are looking for a tall, fast growing, drought tolerant, evergreen hedge to run along our ~200' back property line in West Lake, west of Austin, TX. This is at the bottom of a slope, and runs th...
view the full question and answer

Screening trees for PA
March 13, 2011 - We are looking to plant some privacy trees in back of our home. Since our neighbor is directly behind us but we don't want to plant something distasteful to our neighbor. Do you have a recommendation...
view the full question and answer

Screen of Thuja Occidentalis on fire-damaged property in Bastrop TX
May 04, 2013 - I want to plant a screen of Thuja Occidentalis on the east side of our driveway. It is in the burn area of Bastrop, TX. None of our trees survived. Will Thuja Occidentalis grow here? I saw some specim...
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