En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Native plant for container on deck in Oak Grove VA

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - April 05, 2011

From: Oak Grove, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Container Gardens
Title: Native plant for container on deck in Oak Grove VA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

What VA native plant can I grow in a container on my deck that will block the view from the neighbor's deck? I am thinking columnar. This is in full sun and gets hot winds off of a bay. The plant will cook out there, even if I water it 2 times a day.

ANSWER:

You may have answered your own question when you said "the plant will cook out there." Container plants are much more susceptible to variations in temperature in a container than they would be in the ground. In the ground, the roots have the insulation of the Earth all around it. In a pot, they have a few inches of soil and a plastic or ceramic skin between them and the heat or cold.

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the areas in which those plants natively grow. Begin by reading our How-To Article Container Gardening with Native Plants.

We will look at possibilities by going to Recommended Species, clicking on Virginia on the map and, on the sidebar on the right-hand side, select "shrub" under General Appearance and "sun" under Light Requirement, and Narrow Your Search. Our of 7 shrubs on the resulting list, we found exactly one shrub that we thought might work, Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle). This plant is evergreen, graceful and open and the foliage is fragrant. If you follow the plant link above and read the webpage on this plant in our database, you will learn that it grows to from 6 to 12 ft., is an excellent screening plant, likes slightly acidic soils and sun or part shade. We have grown many of these, but have no experience with them as container plants.

Another thought we had concerned native grasses. None of them get any taller than about 3 ft., but in, say, 3 containers grouped in a row to make them taller, they would make a nice screen. Because their roots are rhizomes instead of spreading woody roots like the wax myrtle, they might fare better in the containers. We found these by going to our Native Plant Database, because we don't have very complete lists of grasses and grass-like plants in our Recommended Species. We selected "Virginia" on the drop-down menu, "grass or grass-like" under General Appearance and "sun" under Light Requirements and Submit Combination Search. From those we chose 3 possibilities:

Calamagrostis canadensis (Bluejoint) - 3 to 5 ft. tall, perennial, stands up well in Winter

Muhlenbergia capillaris (Gulf muhly) - perennial to 3 ft. tall, sun

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem) - perennial to 3 ft, sun or part shade

Beyond these plant suggestions, you may find you need to construct or have constructed some kind of screen, like a trellis, that will stand up to the winds and give you the screening you need.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Morella cerifera


Calamagrostis canadensis


Muhlenbergia capillaris


Schizachyrium scoparium

 

 

 

 

More Container Gardens Questions

Small tree for Northern California backyard
March 05, 2013 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I'm looking for a small tree for backyard (west side of house). I'm replacing a Calif.Laurel which is not doing well because it is planted on a downward slope and gets too m...
view the full question and answer

Huisaches in pots from Houston TX
May 20, 2012 - I have special (and probably weird) affinity to huisaches (acacia farnesiana). As a child I used to admire the three that elegantly guarded our backyard looking almost like fingers reaching for the s...
view the full question and answer

Winter plants for windowbox in Piedmont SC
October 26, 2012 - What kind of outdoor window box spruss can grow in upstate South Carolina in the winter months?
view the full question and answer

Sides for raised gardens
May 01, 2008 - I am wanting to put in raised gardens. What is the best product for the sides? Wood? If so, what kind? Thank you
view the full question and answer

Overwintering Cardinal Flower in Thornwood NY
October 01, 2009 - I have 6 Cardinal Flower plants in planters. They have mulch on top to keep them moist. Can they stay in the planters all winter? Do I cut the stalks before winter comes or leave as is?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center