En EspaŅol

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
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

Darkened leaves on blueberry bush
July 02, 2008 - I have a blueberry bush planted in a very large pot. It has been doing very well, producing berries and new growth. All of a sudden the leaves have begun to turn dark. I have it potted in good soil...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for containers on patio in Houston
January 30, 2010 - What native plants in Texas (I live in Houston) will do well in pots on my patio- they get about 1/2 day sunlight. Is there anything shrub-like that will live from year to year? Thank you
view the full question and answer

White specks on unknown houseplant from Ridgeway SC
June 20, 2013 - I have an unknown houseplant that seems to have some sort of pest or disease on it. It has white snowy specks atop its leaf. I bought this purple fuzzy leafed houseplant from Walmart in Winnsboro, SC ...
view the full question and answer

Blossom fall after rain on Polystachys lutea, Shrimp Lollipop
July 17, 2008 - I live in San Antonio and had previously bought shrimp lollipop plants and after the rain we had recently all the blooms fell off. So my question is did it die or should I just leave it alone?
view the full question and answer

Disappearing oranges from Satsuma orange in Austin
June 25, 2008 - I had many tiny future oranges on my Satsuma Orange Tree until a few days ago. Suddenly, all were gone except one. They weren't on the ground and the tree itself seems incredibly healthy. It is gr...
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