Container & Urban Native Gardens

Question:

I have a roof top deck with planters in Chicago. Do you have any native plants that will work in this urban environment?

 

Answer:

Laurie, yes I believe I have some plants that may work for you.  Admittedly I have never installed natives in a roof top planter, but dry prairie species should do the trick.  I have several plants in mind that may just work for you. The plants I am recommending are showier plants that are on the hardy end of the spectrum, need less water than most plants, are shorter stature that should work better in a planter setting and are suited for sun to part sun locations. 

Really this is a subject that I want to deeper explore so that we can bring native plants to urban and apartment residents.  We are currently working on an urban/container kit that will allow natives to be brought into urban areas beautifully and successfully. This really can have a major impact on urban sustainability because of the vertical stacking effect in these high-rise buildings.  If every patio had a small native container garden can you imagine the potential!!!!!!  This is really an area that I am quite excited about.  Urban native plant reintroduction, both in residential setting, commercial, and public areas and waterways. 

 

Anyways, here are a few suggestions:

Ruellia humilis (Wild Petunia) a very tough and pretty plant, I left it outside in a 3-gallon pot for three years and never watered it, it just kept on living and flowering even though several hard winters.  This plant comes highly recommended!!!

Campanula rotundifolia (Harebell) a very pretty plant that when planted close together has an exquisite appearance when flowering, This plant is highly recommended!

Asclepias verticillata (Whorled Milkweed) probably the best native milkweed for a planter because it is short and overwinters well in pots.  Get those Monarchs reproducing with this genus being their only host plant or food for the caterpillar.

Coreopsis lanceolata (Sand Coreopsis) This plant is proven in harsh environments and can take it pretty dry if you forget to water.  IT yellow flowers are quite showy.

Opuntia humifusa (Eastern Prickly Pear) if you want to get crazy with a native cactus, but warning with the spines, see the description.  It’s yellow flowers are also quite showy!

Dalea purpurea or Petalostemum purpureum (Purple Prairie Clover) pretty purple spiked flowers provide a show mid-summer and can take it dry.

Fragaria virginiana (Wild Strawberry) With edible strawberries it is perfect for permaculture and just for snacking.

Liatris cylindracea (Dwarf Blazing Star) The best blazing star for a planter because it is shorter in stature and can take very dry conditions.

Lupinus perennis (Wild Lupine) a pretty plant that is short-medium and can take very dry conditions.  Plant this plant as an accent piece in your planter or in a clump for a focal point.

 

Well, I believe these should get you started in planting your native container garden.  They should be very solid choices both aesthetically, hardiness, and lower watering and maintenance. 

 

Happy planting!!!!!!!

Nick



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