April 6, 2007
HARDY PLANTS FOR YEAR-ROUND CONTAINERS
For those of you who have deck or balcony gardens, and your numbers are rapidly increasing in Chicago and other large cities in Zone 5, your work is much more difficult than it is for the rest of us .
Your first and foremost consideration is containers that will overwinter and can handle the freezing and thawing cycle . This eliminates ceramic or clay pots, and glazed pottery. I know, I know, they're gorgeous but short-lived if you are to overwinter plants in them. Containers made of cedar are the best rot and moisture-resistant. Those inexpensive large half whiskey barrels will last for years. Concrete planters are strong, but heavy in large sizes and not easily moved about. High quality polyurethane , colored to look like Terra Cotta, is another good choice.
Once you've selected your container, and, I must emphasize the larger the better because the more soil you have the more likely the plant is to survive.
Begin by selecting small trees . The half whiskey barrel is large enough to plant dwarf standards ( standards are trees or shrubs with a weeping or pendulous habit above a straight trunk ) such as Weeping Pussywillow, Weeping Crabapple, Weeping Cherry, Dwarf Korean Lilac and Weeping Peashrub. For a bare wall an Ornamental Espalier, a horizontally trained branching tree, such as a pear or apple is very attractive in a sunny spot.
Two other hardy standards are Rose of Sharon and Mulberry.