Year-Round Plants for VERY Small Containers

Discussion in 'Small Space Gardening' started by maggie-tulliver, Jul 14, 2007.

  1. maggie-tulliver

    maggie-tulliver Member

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    Hello,

    I have a couple of oddly-shaped containers -- only about 8" x 8" footprint, but over 2 feet tall -- and would like advice on year-round plants that would work in these pots. I'm in Vancouver, with a northwest-facing balcony. Evergreens would be ideal, but any year-round outdoor plant, preferably one that grows tall, would be fine. They obviously need to be something that will grow up rather than out, and can grow deep roots rather than spreading wide. Thanks!
     
  2. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member 10 Years

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    I hope you do find some repliers who can come up with some answers, other than a giant carrot ! -- as I would like to try a similar shape of container perhaps not quite that narrow... I do have a miniature cedar I believe it is, about 8"-10" high, on the patio but planted in the ground in a kind of groundcover "landscape"; one that was not quite that miniature might look rather neat in it! The nurseries do have them. Alternatively, one of the miniature boxwoods or a Hebe trimmed as a round ball also might look interesting -- the roots perhaps would focus downward.
     
  3. KarinL

    KarinL Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    I have several tall thin pots and like the look of drooping plants growing in them, as my lot is pretty level with few walls and I have a shortage of drooping opportunities.

    Plant roots will definitely go down if that is where the soil is. I have one very tall pot (nearly 4 feet) in which I have a Lime Glow juniper, and I had to raise it up a little this spring as I hadn't packed the soil enough when planting last year and it had receded into the pot too far... I swear the rootball went down two feet. An advantage of pots like this is that they don't dry out too quickly (little surface area) so in a northwest exposure you could probably actually keep plants alive in them over summer.

    In another tall pot I have some raspberries, as they spread so much I don't like them in the garden.

    For your situation and preferences I would suggest some varieties of juniper (there are many compact upright ones, and a couple of neat spreading ones like Motherlode or Blue rug or Pancake) or a dwarfish pine. These are two conifers that are very drought-tolerant, along with yew. Looking west you've probably got enough sun to grow any of these.

    Almost any evergreen could adapt to this if it is a plant that stays smallish. And plants can be pruned.

    I also spice up those containers in which I have the drooping plants with something upright, which can be anything from lilies to any tall perennial.

    What would not work well in such a container is something like irises that needs a bit of square footage. But I can think of more plants that will work than won't.
     
  4. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member 10 Years

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    What fascinating suggestions, we can both thank KarinL. I would think the berry starter-plants would have longish tough roots which could be shaped into the container just fine -- do the growing raspberry canes actually droop over the side, or fan out, or? Photos would be nice to see. The junipers sound interesting and both effects would look really "cool", to use an overworked word. 8" x 8" is not very wide, but presumably they are a bit wider a the top; being that tall those containers would be very "freaky" to use another overworked word, and totally interesting. I can't wait to try this myself; once I finish some interior work after a spate of patio gardening which has exhausted me, I am going to try it. GardenWorks in Victoria had some tall narrow planters, not very big, about 8" in diameter and about 2 ft tall, made out of concrete with an interesting mineral sparkle in them, but no drainage holes -- presumably those can be drilled. Not tall enough to get enough soil, though... taller would be better.
     
  5. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    One of the neatest container plant gardens I ever saw was done by a lady who had a glass canister about the size of what you just described. She took rare ferns which are epiphytic and grew them in the container using the jars as tiny "green houses". Ephiphtyic plants are simply those that grow attached to wood or other plants.

    To do it, she filled the bottom with a non-calcium containing gravel to about 2 inches. On top of that she placed pieces of small logs. And to them she attached ferns such as the iridescent blue Microsorum thailandicum. The ferns can actually be "glued" on using Liquid Nails, just use a tiny dab! I'm including a link to my website which shows that fern. It can commonly be found on eBay and several internet sellers offer the species.

    By keeping water in the gravel at the bottom, the humidity remained constantly high in the container. She would take the lid off once a day to mist the plants. Other than that, she did almost nothing. One of the nice things about Microsorum thailandicum is it loves low light. If it remains in bright light, the fern looses the iridescent blue color. So that plant can be grown in just about any room in the house. But there are other small ferns that will do the same.

    The display was quite beautiful, easy to maintain, and something everyone who saw it talked about.

    http://www.exoticrainforest.com/Microsorum thailandicum pc.html
     
  6. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    I'd use something trailing that will hang down the sides of the container, and not grow upward. Anything growing taller will make a sail to catch the wind and the pots will blow over very easily. Actually, I suspect this will happen anyway even with trailing plants on windy days, but I don't see how it can be avoided.
     
  7. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member 10 Years

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    Maybe the containers are back against a wall away from the wind... Or, if they have holes in the bottom, they could be bolted to a deck or porch such as a toilet is bolted to the bathroom floor... and the drainage hole drilled out near the bottom at a side not visible to the everyday viewer...
     
  8. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member 10 Years

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    Those ferns sound wonderful. That's another interesting project to try -- thanks for the reference!
     
  9. maggie-tulliver

    maggie-tulliver Member

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    Wow -- thanks for all the terrific suggestions. The pots are actually up against the glass wind-screen thingy at the front of our balcony, so are completely sheltered from wind. (The reason we have such odd pots to begin with is that we bought them to sort of plug up a gap between the guard screen and the wall, so that our cats could go out on the balcony and not squeeze through the gap.) I think any of the suggestions made here so far would work -- now for a trip to the nursery!

    Cheers,
    maggie-tulliver
     

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