Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
5 ratings

Monday - August 17, 2009

From: New York, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Privacy screen for New York apartment balcony.
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Hello, I live in an apartment in New York City with an outdoor large balcony. I would like to buy evergreens to make the space more private. Do you have any suggestions on what type of plant would be best? I would need to buy plants that will survive the winter outdoors. Ideally, something with some height (maybe four feet?) and that can be planted in pots. Thanks!

ANSWER:

In general, we would discourage attempting to do what you have in mind.  While many evergreen plants grow well in containers, potted plants are particularly susceptible to freezing due to the increased exposure of the plants' roots.  The earth acts as a giant heat sink and moderates the temperature of the soil around the roots of plants in nature.  Even in areas of permafrost, roots of plants growing below the frost layer are protected.  Containerized plants growing outdoors have no such protection and will invariably sustain substantial - often fatal - freezing damage to roots.  Further exacerbating the problem is the exposed nature of apartment balconies.  As habitats, they're something akin to alpine bluffs where little grows at all and nothing grows in a lush manner.  We know of no native evergreens suitable for yearround outdoor container-growing in New York.

 

More Privacy Screening Questions

Privacy Hedge for Dripping Springs, TX
April 25, 2014 - We live in Dripping Springs, TX and are looking to find a suggestion for privacy hedges that are non-toxic to dogs, drought resistant, can handle rocky soil and full sun. We prefer flowering hedges. ...
view the full question and answer

Native evergreen vine for St. Paul MN
June 17, 2010 - I am looking for a native vine that will stay green, or at least keep its leaves, throughout the winter. The vine will be grown on a trellis between our house and our neighbor's, and we want to keep...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen tree for California screen
September 28, 2010 - Dear Mr. Smarty Pants, I need a tree for screen and privacy. Our neighbors are building a second story. We will loose our privacy and our patio will be like a fish bowl. I will plant it about 2 fee...
view the full question and answer

A nice-looking, fast-growing privacy hedge for Oregon
May 27, 2011 - Would you please suggest a fast growing option to create a privacy hedge? I need to get my husband off the boxwoods he is touting.. The ideal solution would grow to 8 feet high, look interesting all y...
view the full question and answer

Shrub to scrren house from dust from gravel road
July 28, 2013 - HI: We live in the foothills of Dobbins, California (2 hours North of Sacramento, Ca). I live on a gravel dirt road with traffic that goes about 45 miles an hour. When they drive by our house it lo...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.