Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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
Not Yet Rated

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

QUESTION:

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.

ANSWER:

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

Yaupon
Ilex vomitoria

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Cenizo
Leucophyllum frutescens

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Evergreen sumac
Rhus virens

Possumhaw
Ilex decidua

Lindheimer's muhly
Muhlenbergia lindheimeri

Dwarf palmetto
Sabal minor

Inland sea oats
Chasmanthium latifolium

Crossvine
Bignonia capreolata

More Container Gardens Questions

Native Plants for a Shaded Patio Container in Missouri
April 17, 2015 - What kind of native plants would grow well in a pot on a fully shaded patio? I live in Kansas City, Missouri. The patio faces north and doesn't get any direct sunlight, but it gets lots of indirect...
view the full question and answer

Growing Plumeria in Ohio
July 15, 2008 - Can I grow plumeria in Ohio? We were in Hawaii this past week and I brought two plants home to try to grow. Thanks a bunch.
view the full question and answer

Native small tree or shrub for container in San Angelo, Texas
July 01, 2010 - We live in San Angelo TX and are looking for some type of a bush/tree that will grow in a pot in a shaded area..we would like something that would grow to be about 5-6 feel tall and be rather narrow.....
view the full question and answer

Container plant to grow in late afternoon sun
July 02, 2011 - I have a shaded brick walkway that leads to my front door. It faces west, and can get very hot late afternoon Houston sun, although it is shaded for the remainder of the day. I have been successful ...
view the full question and answer

Loss of blooms in potted plants in Hawaii
November 11, 2007 - My lanai is in strong afternoon sun and no matter what "full sun" plants I try to grow they quickly stop blooming. Plumeria, Hibiscus, Echinacea, even Bougainvillea...they continue to grow but lose...
view the full question and answer

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