En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Planter boxes on a roof deck in Boston MA

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

Monday - May 20, 2013

From: South Boston , MA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Container Gardens
Title: Planter boxes on a roof deck in Boston MA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

What will grow in planter boxes on a roof deck in Boston ma? We are planning to make our own planters to sit on the framing "outside" our deck rail. We have 4 ft from the rail to the edge of the house so the boxes will likely be about 2 ft wide and 4-5 ft long. They will get extreme sun exposure (no shade all day) and conditions can get pretty windy (2 blocks to ocean in south Boston). Of corse also hoping for something with limited maintenance as it will be outside the actual railing so not fully accessible. Hoping to mask the framing cross boards that are exposed a bit. Planters can be 2 ft deep at most. And we wouldn't want anything to high to obstruct the water view. (Planter depth can be variable. Height including planter box ideally 42")

ANSWER:

First, please read this previous Mr.Smarty Plants answer on growing in pots up high. 

Next, read our How-To Article on Container Gardening with Native Plants. And please note, we don't recommend anything except plants native not only to North America but also to the area in which those plants grow naturally; in your case, Suffolk Co., MA.

Then, watch this video of our Director of Horticulture, Andrea DeLong Amaya, on Container Gardening.

Finally, let us say we think this whole idea is impractical. Consider:

1. Engineering problems. You are putting heavy weight on a surface not designed for that.

2. Drainage. Any plants in an enclosed situation must have water and must also have arrangements for that water to drain. We envision early problems with rotting wood in your roof structure.

3. Heat. All day every day sun would probably not even permit a cactus to survive.

4. Cold. In the Winter, there would only be a thin layer of framework and an inch or so of soil between the roots, the most vulnerable part of a plant to freezing, and possibly zero temperatures.

5. Why do you even want to do this? You have already said you have a stunning water view.

 

 

More Container Gardens Questions

Care of Florida Blue or Lisiantus in Houston
October 24, 2005 - I'm in Houston, Texas and I'm growing, for the first time, Florida blues, Eustoma, purple. Since I am from California I'm not familiar with this plant. It's beautiful. How do I care for them i...
view the full question and answer

Indoor pot plants
November 20, 2007 - I just moved into a studio apt. where a lot of heat is provided. Do you have a listing of house plants suitable for warm apartments? I have four windows, all with indirect sunlight.
view the full question and answer

Evergreen plants with showy flowers for pots in Central Texas
January 14, 2009 - I'm looking for evergreen plants with showy flowers suitable for Central Texas. Plants need to do well in pots.. they will be planted in flower boxes in my very sunny porch. thanks!!!
view the full question and answer

Problem garden strip in Austin
May 22, 2014 - Currently I live in the west half of a duplex. There is a small strip of dirt about two feet wide between the wall and the sidewalk in the backyard. It faces west, meaning it only gets sunlight duri...
view the full question and answer

Patio plants suffering from heat in Austin
August 22, 2010 - My patio plants are burning up from the intense sun of Austin's August. Last year it even burned the leaves. Besides moving 40 plants to a shadier spot do you have suggestions on how to protect the...
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