The Q&A Archives: Need help finding appropriate plant for special conditions

Question: Dear Monrovia: Behneke's Nursery told me to contact you. I live on the 15th floor of the Watergate (Washington, DC), facing West, right on the river, which means extra wind and full sun. I need about 30 or so plants that are evergreen, draught resistant, and would be happy living in 2'x2'containers, that are about 2.5' high. Please give me some suggestions, which I can see on your website, and then buy from Behneke. Thank You very much.

Answer: Unfortunately I am not comfortable recommending anything for that type of location. The reason it is such a problem is that the wind will dry them out terribly in the summer and winter, the sun will reflect off the building and heat them up during sunny days both summer and winter (this is a particularly difficult stress on evergreens in winter), and the root restriction means they will be constricted on that score as well. This all adds up to being very difficult for any plant to survive, let alone stay healthy and look good. You might try some junipers as these are among the most drought and wind resistant evergreens, but honestly I would not be confident that even these could survive there long term. You might find that a local landscape architect or garden designer has worked in a location very similar to yours in terms of microclimate and has had success with something, possibly through trial and error -- if so, I would follow their lead. At this point the best I can suggest is to check with your neighbors (with a planting site that faces the same direction with similar wind and sun conditions) and see if they have had good luck with any particular plant. I'm sorry I can't be more encouraging.

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