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Tuesday - November 08, 2011

From: austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Container Gardens, Shrubs
Title: A 3-6 ft. high overwintering container plant
Answered by: Guy Thompson


I live in Austin, Tx. and am looking for a plant/shrub that I can keep in a ceramic pot through out the winter. It can grow to from 3 feet to six feel.


Your choice of plants will depend upon the size of your pot and the exposure of the plant to the elements.  Assuming that you have a pot of diameter about two feet and placed in at least partial direct sun, I will recommend the following cold-hardy native plants:

For the standard conifer:  Juniperus virginiana (Eastern red cedar) or Juniperus pinchotii (Pinchot's juniper).  These species can grow much larger than six feet, but you can control their size by occasional trimming.

For evergreen broadleaf plants: Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon)Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel)Leucophyllum frutescens (Cenizo)Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle) or Rhus virens (Evergreen sumac). These are relatively slow-growing and have attractive flowers and/or fruit.

Deciduous: Ilex decidua (Possumhaw) loses its leaves in winter but has colorful red berries that persist until spring.

Some other possibilities that grow only 2-5 ft in height: Muhlenbergia lindheimeri (Lindheimer's muhly)Sabal minor (Dwarf palmetto)Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats) and rosemary (not native to this area).

You might consider an evergreen vine climbing on a small trellis: Bignonia capreolata (Crossvine)Gelsemium sempervirens (Carolina jessamine) or Lonicera sempervirens (Coral honeysuckle).

Before making your choice, check out the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center article on Container Gardening for tips.  Remember the hot, dry summers that may lie ahead and plan a system to keep the container soil watered appropriately.  All of the suggested plants are fairly drought-resistant, but some moreso than others.

Below find some images from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Image Gallery.




From the Image Gallery

Eastern red cedar
Juniperus virginiana

Pinchot's juniper
Juniperus pinchotii

Ilex vomitoria

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Leucophyllum frutescens

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Evergreen sumac
Rhus virens

Ilex decidua

Lindheimer's muhly
Muhlenbergia lindheimeri

Dwarf palmetto
Sabal minor

Inland sea oats
Chasmanthium latifolium

Bignonia capreolata

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