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By Idougal

United Kingdom Gb

I have large 2 metre long planters on top of a boundary wall and have considered planting ferns in them. I live on the north east coast therefore exposed to all weather conditions. Please advise as to whether ferns are suitable, and/or what other plants would suit.

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In containers they need particular lighting conditions a certain soil, finicky watering requirements, and most likely will not survive the freezing temperatures of winter. Other members will have suggestions for for me, many of the annual flowering plants would do quite well in your planters.

17 Apr, 2016


Thanks for that.

17 Apr, 2016


How much sun do they get, these boxes, and how deep are they? They look to be about 8 inches deep, is that right? And just how close to the coast are you? I'm wondering about the chances of salt spray, or far enough away for that not to be a problem, but close enough for temperatures to not drop so low as they do inland, that's why I'm asking.

17 Apr, 2016


There are ferns that will grow in dryer ground and full sun. Try Polysticum setiferum and Dryopteris affinis. But they will still need watering. Polypodium vulgare would probably do too, though its a lot smaller than the other two and looks best in a group of several.

If you want to give these a try it might be best to just get one of each for a year and see how they do before splashing out on a lot.

17 Apr, 2016


Because the photos are upside down, it's hard to see the height of the wall. As it's a boundary wall, I assume it's fairly high so I would include trailing plants to soften it and the planter.

I wouldn't recommend ferns. I would pick something that thrives in exposed, salt-laden coastal regions, and ferns (which are mainly woodland or heath plants) don't come into that category.

18 Apr, 2016


Rosierose - if you right click on the photos and select View Image, it takes you to an image the right way up...

18 Apr, 2016


Thanks for the helpful feedback. What hardy plants would you recommend? The planters are 14 inches deep. I'm only a few hundred metres from the beach so quite exposed.

22 Apr, 2016


That is actually a really difficult planting situation - you've got to take into account the possibility of salt in the air, together with a very exposed, windy and probably cold position.

That said, I'd look at Euonymus varieties, particularly E. fortunei ones, and dwarf varieties of three conifers - Chamaecyparis, Cupressocyparis and Pines. All three tolerate both cold windy exposed sites and salt in the air. Select some of these as a framework or skeleton for the boxes, with spaces in between - and then just add appropriate 'bedding' for the time of year, so summer plants such as trailing lobelia, surfinia petunias, calibroacha, bedding fuchsia, that sort of thing, and for the winter, rip out the summer bedding and replace with small ivies to trail over the edge and pansies for colour. If you decide to retain the ivies during summer too, its important you take them out every year or so and split the plants, including their roots, or they'll take over the whole of the troughs.

26 Apr, 2016


Thanks, that's really helpful.

2 May, 2016


Would Lophospermum hybrids (creeping gloxinia) be a suitable choice for these planters.

14 May, 2016

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