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Plant selection with strange requirements

 
 
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 06:26 pm
Here is a photo of my house:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v667/boomerangagain/house.jpg

You see that little balcony? That's Mo's room. When the weather is warm it is nice to open that door but that gives him no privacy from the street.

I would like to put a plant out there -- something tall, but it can't be too heavy because I don't know how structurally sound the balcony is.

The balcony is accessable but it's kind of a hassel so something easy care is ideal.

I was thinking of some kind of nice, plastic, footed, planter to give extra height wtihout adding weight -- something kind of like this:

http://www.homedepot.com/catalog/productImages/300/08/0893ebfc-6c1c-4ea1-82dc-0ec70c96ebb8_300.jpg


My house faces west so this balcony gets a lot of sun in the summer. I live in Portland, Oregon.

I need something tall.

Any ideas?

Thanks!
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Type: Question • Score: 10 • Views: 10,712 • Replies: 61
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 06:36 pm
@boomerang,
What about something climbing? Would you be able to rig up any kind of a trellis?

Morning glories or clematis might be nice.

It's something I think of as having a lot of height (if it has something to climb) without necessarily a lot of weight.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 06:45 pm
@boomerang,
Terrific pot.. I agree with the plastic.

Also, there are recipes for light weight soil. (I used to design roof gardens, but a long time ago - would have to look it up. Water also weighs something, so that is part of the consideration. On the other hand, presumably a human can stand there?)
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 06:48 pm
@ossobuco,
On plants, I'd have to think.. first thing that comes to mind is a Solanum ratonetti, but I'm sure there are lots of interesting possibilities.
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 06:53 pm
fountain grass for this year, they will die in the winter

then, plant morning glory and moon flower seeds that will twine up the railing.

0 Replies
 
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 06:54 pm
@sozobe,
sozobe wrote:

What about something climbing? Would you be able to rig up any kind of a trellis?

Morning glories or clematis might be nice.

It's something I think of as having a lot of height (if it has something to climb) without necessarily a lot of weight.


oops....great minds.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 06:55 pm
@ossobuco,
Nope, wrong zone for solanum..
You're in Sunset zone 6..
0 Replies
 
Rockhead
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 06:58 pm
@boomerang,
not gonna work alone, but whatever you decide on for heighth, strawberries are fun in the bottom...
0 Replies
 
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 07:10 pm
My first thought was a vine as well - morning glories to be exact! There are other vines. Grasses would work too, find some that are erect, not weeping. I think something that is vigorous in the summer, but annual (doesn't winter-over) would be good.
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 07:22 pm
Oh -- I should have said -- I don't want to put up any kind of trellis or that sort of thing. This is the exit from his room in case of fire. Whatever is out there can't impede his exit.

I will probably put some climbing stuff on the ground after we paint the house but I don't want anything covering that door.

Osso, could you add the common name or a photo? I'm not that knowledgeable about plants.

What about some kind of ornamental grass? Aren't some of them very tall and spikey? You see them along the beach so I would think they grow in poor soil and don't need a lot of water.
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 08:03 pm
@boomerang,
I was thinking of putting the trellis behind the pot and growing the vine in the pot - not against the door or wall.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 08:06 pm
@boomerang,
Two plants I'd consider, while asking for comment from the staff at a local good nursery are Laurus nobilis (sweetbay) It is a classic container plant... and gives you bay leaves. Can be kept quite small, or grow as a tree.

Another that I know less about is the Rhododendron occidentalis (western azalea), of which there are a number of varieties with different properties (colors of flowers, sizes). I'm not sure about a rhodie in a pot, but I don't see why not.. double check on that, though.

Back with photos.
ossobuco
 
  2  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 08:43 pm
@ossobuco,
The laurel bay/sweetbay/grecian laurel ---
can be kept formal or like a regular shrub. People even bonsai them.

http://www.patio-plants.co.uk/images/bay_plaited.jpg

http://www.hort.wisc.edu/mastergardener/features/vegetables/bay/L_nobilis-standardKew.jpg

 http://www.plantadvice.co.uk/photos/plants/P4170034.JPG


some Rhododendron occidentalis (western azalea/pacific rhododendron) -

http://www.callutheran.edu/wf/images/nca/nca-59.jpg


Oh, I thought of another plant - my business partner had it in a biggish pot in her patio, and it grew tall and spikey, with fabulous flowers. It's called Iris neomarica, and is not an iris, just looks like one. I see it called different things, apostle plant, walking iris, neomarica....
They might be hard to find. Hers grew quite thick in the pot, and tall, about as tall as their doorway.

http://www.bulbsociety.org/GALLERY_OF_THE_WORLDS_BULBS/GRAPHICS/Neomarica/Neomarica_longifolia/Neomarica_longifolia2.jpg This one listed as Neomarica longifolia.

http://www.plantsafari.com/Images350/Neomarica-caerulea5.jpg
This one is listed as Neomarica caerulea.



Phormium hybrids (New Zealand Flax) also come to mind and can grow in pots. They can be rambunctious in the ground, have never had one in a pot myself.




0 Replies
 
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 May, 2009 09:00 pm
wow re: the neomarica!

Rhodies can be quite happy in a pot (and azaleas). The pot should be biggish, however.

Boomer, did you mention the size of the balcony (square footage of the floor)?
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 May, 2009 07:09 am
Wow is right. I love those, osso. There are a lot of really good plant shops here so I might call around to see if anyone has those. I like those spikey leaves a lot.

The balcony is tiny, little k, maybe 2x3 -- just a bit wider than the doorway and enough room for someone to stand.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 May, 2009 01:59 pm
@boomerang,
I'm sorry - I didn't remember finding Neomarica in Sunset Western Gardens before (another year when I looked it up), but I must have looked it up under Iris. Anyway, Sunset says only indoors in your zone. Sorry for false lead. I keep thinking of Portland as just like where I lived in Humboldt, and it did freeze in my neighborhood once in a while, but barely, and I never lost a plant to it. I gather Portland freezes to lower temp. - more like here in Abq.

Apparently Phormium do grow in your zone, but they freeze... and will regrow afterwards.
I'm not sure that's such a negative, since they are pretty strong growers, and replanting one each spring might be reasonable anyway. Or, perhaps they could be wheeled inside in winter.

So, some phormium photos..

back in a bit.




ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 May, 2009 02:26 pm
@ossobuco,
An aside on Phormium.. they are relatively new on the market here in the US - I'm guessing they showed up in the mid to late eighties. When nurseries first grew and then supplied them, they way underestimated their mature growth size, to much consternation. Recent assessments of growth potential are much closer to true. Data below is for estimated growth size in ground.

This is the hybrid, Maori Chief, grows upright to 6 feet tall and wide -
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/art/pacificnw/2001/0701/plant1.jpg

Phormium cookianum/tenax hybrid, 'Maori Sunrise', to 3 feet high, 5 - 6 ft wide -
http://www.theplantfarm.ca/images/Ph.%20Maori%20Sunrise.jpg

Phormium tenax (New Zealand Flax) 'Pink Stripe' -
http://www.nwbulb.com/nwbulb/images/12149025.jpg
4 to 5 feet hight and wide

Phormium tenax 'bronze baby' -
http://www.dkimages.com/discover/previews/952/50378753.JPG
3 feet tall and wide


I suppose you have a selection of grasses at local nurseries - ask one you trust... Some of them (the grasses, well, even the nurseries) are gorgeous.
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 May, 2009 02:46 pm

Just so its not a cactus
0 Replies
 
MontereyJack
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 May, 2009 03:00 pm
Most sensible post in a long time, David.

Wisteria would be in keeping with the period of the house, trails and drapes beautifully, but I think it can get to be pretty heavy, tho that can take decades.
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 May, 2009 03:04 pm
@MontereyJack,
Wisteria is also fairly invasive.
0 Replies
 
 

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