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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - May 28, 2012

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Container Gardens, Vines
Title: Growing native vines in pots from Houston
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am writing in regards to your often mentioned issue of plants not doing as well in pots and in the ground. After last years drought, i moved all the plants I had that were in danger of dying of thirst into those giant plastic Home Depot pots (approximately 30 inches across) and they survived the shock, the drought, and are flowering & fruiting beautifully this year. woohoo! This year, after carefully researching on your site endless possibilities, I decided that I wanted to plant Campsis radicans (Trumpet creeper) and Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) in these same large pots every feet or so to grow over my fence. it makes it easy to water in case of another drought and controls the alleged invasivness of these plants. So, should I plant them straight in the ground or should I pot them as I originally planned? Will potting them be detrimental to the growth rate of the plants?

ANSWER:

Since you live in Houston, the likelihood that you will have problems with pots is pretty low. We warn against pots for plants that will be outside in the winter in colder parts of the country. The reason for this, of course, is that being in a pot above ground means the roots are protected from freezing only by a thin layer of potting soil and an even thinner layer of plastic or terra cotta. However, you should also realize that a plastic pot does not benefit the plants as much in the heat of Summer because there is no cooling evaporation as there is in a terra cotta pot. We would not suggest putting any pot in a hot direct sun for several hours of the day.

Beyond that, we see no real problem in your plan to put vines in large pots. You might first read our How-To Article on Container Gardening with Native Plants, if you have not already done so. Follow the plant links below to our webpages on each plant for more information on their sun requirements, soil, water, etc., all of which, as you note, you can control better with plants in a pot. At the bottom of that webpage is a link to the USDA Plant Profiles Map for that plant. We have linked you to the maps on your plants to establish that they do grow in your area.

We have no information on how big those roots are going to get, but they spread both by seeds and by suckering from underground roots. You might keep an eye on the pot, if there are roots coming out of the drainage hole in the bottom of the pot and into the soil, they may have already established themselves underground. That is where the invasive issue becomes important, they can be controlled but you have to be vigilant and don't let the roots get away from you.

Passiflora incarnata (Purple passionflower)      USDA map

Campsis radicans (Trumpet creeper)       USDA map

 

From the Image Gallery




Trumpet creeper
Campsis radicans

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