Evergreens/conifers in containers in winter, Al and others?

krismast(6 S.E. PA)September 19, 2012

Hi everyone. I recently bought some urn style pots for our front porch that I would like to sink some potted evergreens into over the winter. Here are some specs of the area. It's a brick walkway underneath an overhanging porch. It's an eastern exposure but doesn't get a lot of sun due to a three story house across the road from us. I was planning on having these trees eventually planted in gritty mix. I would like to practice root pruning in order to keep these trees year after year. I'm assuming this can be done. Here are my questions.

What evergreens would do good in my zone in containers? I would like something with more height than width that I can maintain around 4-6 feet

Does the size of the containers they are planted in make a difference?

Do evergreens need sunlight when the soil is frozen? In the spring and summer I would move them to fuller sun in my back garden.

A landscaping friend of mine suggested thuja plicata. I found some at a local nursery but they were already 7-8 feet tall. I was hoping for something shorter and more dwarfing.

Sorry for the lengthy post. I thank all of you folks for your help in advance!


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Planting on a north or east side of a home with some shelter will help evergreens avoid "winter burn", so being on the east side of your home should be fine. I don't know how much cover you have, but roots in containers get colder than in the ground. Some evergreens are more fragile than others...my wife and I have wrapped containers during severe cold snaps with blankets! Water well before your first hard freeze, but then after that if you have a warm/dry spell give more water at least once a month until March....while the tree may be dormant, it can still be growing roots and needs some water, and contrary to "dormancy" thought, evergreen trees continue to use sunlight and carbon dioxide in the air to make food during the winter. Therefore, it needs to get some sun unless you have a shade tolerant species. Speaking of which, since it sounds like you want smaller more conical/pyramidal than globe trees, you may want to consider Picea glauca 'Jean's Dilly' or Picea glauca 'Rainbow's End'. But make sure you get these dwarf or miniatures...their brothers get significantly bigger! My wife and I have about 25 container trees that we keep moving and caring for while we decide where to plant our roots for the next stage of our lives. :)

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 12:33PM
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On my previous reply I suggested shade tolerant trees. Dwarf Alberta Spruce is another one, but I didn't mention it because it can get bigger and is susceptible to an aphid-like pest. AND by shade tolerant I mean it gets light/indirect sun most of the day like dappled shade OR 4 to 6 hours of full sun. They need some sun, so hopefully your location still provides a minimum of light accordingly....even in winter.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 12:43PM
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krismast(6 S.E. PA)

Thank you very much for your reply, ngrrsn. I will try looking for the varieties you mentioned. Do you know if any of the dwarf cypresses would work like Hinoki gold? Or arborvitaes?


    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 8:51AM
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Arborvitaes need sun. We have a row of them, about 8' tall as a traffic screen. They get morning east and north sun, but big pine trees to the south and west keep them in shade most of the day. The shade sides of the tree get brown and bare; so from one side they look good, but from the other side they look bad. Plus, these are taller than what you indicated you wanted. My wife and I planted a Hinoki near our house because a nursery called it a good mid-sized tree that likes a little shade. Well, the result is that it got bigger than we thought, and looks scraggly because it doesn't get enough sun. By some shade they mean it likes some late afternoon shade...but mostly it needs sun. I think you will find better options....but these may be o.k. for a pot for a year or two? Depends on your long term goals, I guess --- but I wouldn't use these per your original post qualifications for the tree.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 2:27PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

K - late to the party & carrying questions. The most significant limiting factor will be available light. How patient are you or how deep would you say your pockets are? By that I mean, are you willing to consider a plant that only grows an inch or two per year, or are you willing to pay for a large specimen of a plant like that? There are several dwarf conifers that would be good choices that would need to me eliminated if the cost of instant gratification is more than the buyer is willing to bear. Are deer an issue where you live?

Hemlock species known to be resistant to adelgids, umbrella pine, red pine, some yews, Chamae�cyp�aris pisifera or obtusa, even A koreana (Korean fir) would work.


    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 1:56PM
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