Hummingbird House The Garden Helper
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Container Gardening Plants
for hot climates

I have tried my hand at gardening many times, with mixed results. We recently moved to Houston Texas and live in a townhouse with a deck aproximately 9'x12' .
I would like to plant 2 or 3 large plants that would make this area feel more alive and possibly create some shade. The deck is an eastern exposure and gets the sun most of the afternoon.
What could you recommend that would be easy maintenance and not prone to pest problems?
I would also like to grow some indoor plants, low maintenance and not poisonous to my two siamese cats that love to chew on plants.
Would geraniums grow indoors?
I hope this is not an impossible request, and thank you for your help.

No request is impossible, but if you move out of Texas, and get rid of your cats, I can give you a much longer list of plants.(Just kidding!!)
The Texas sun is definately the limiting factor, but there are quite a few larger plants which can tolerate your full, hot sun...

These plants all do well in containers.

Always choose an appropriate fertilizer
  • Musa ensette is a dwarf fruited Banana which will grow 6-8 feet tall with large 2-3 foot leaves. The flowers are nothing outstanding, but it is pretty darn cool when they produce their non edible fruit.
  • Musa nana produces edible bananas. It has basically the same characteristics as Musa ensette but will grow considerably taller.
  • Palms... There are many varieties. Some need semi shade, others full sun so check with a local nursery for the best one for your area.
  • Franklinia trees naturally grow to 25 feet but in a container they will remain somewhat dwarfed. The fragrance of the blooms is awesome!!
  • Strelitzia...The Bird of Paradise won't provide any shade but the flowers are great!
  • Citrus trees... How about growing your own lemonade?
  • Giant Donkey Tails...They're my favorite hanging plant.(they are succulents)
    If you can hang a couple of them over your deck, they will thrive in your conditions.
    You (and your Hummingbirds) will love them too.
  • Cactus??? You probably see enough of them, but I like 'em.

Pest Free Plants?

As far as pests go, if you buy from a good nursery, you should get nice clean, insect free plants.
Please see How to Select Healthy Plants.
Just use care and look closely any time you get any new plants. Most pests are brought into your home on another plant.
Geraniums will do OK as a houseplant if you can keep them reasonably cool.(under 70 in the winter)To keep them blooming their best, they should be restarted from cuttings every year or two.(easy!)
Do your kittens a favor and grow them their own catnip or catmint plant...Very easy to grow, if you can talk your cats into waiting for it to mature. If your cats like storebought catnip,,,wait till they try homegrown!

For a list of Toxic House Plants please go to http://thegardenhelper.com/toxichouse.htm