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Pessimist by policy, optimist by temperament - it is possible to be both. How? By never taking an unnecessary chance and by minimizing risks you can’t avoid. This permits you to play out the game happily, untroubled by the certainty of the outcome.
Robert A. Heinlein

Patio Trees

Trees for places where you it's inconvenient to dig a hole

Could you please tell me if any of the maple, poplar, aspen or cedar trees are recommended or can grow ok in AB in containers? I also would like to know if they can winter outside or if I should bring them into my garage for the winter.

Also, I’m interested in some hostas. I didn’t get around to planting earlier in the season and not sure if I can plant any now.

Generally most trees that are hardier to 1 zone colder or are from climates that have cold winters but not much snowfall are good candidates. E.g. Our farm is zone 3. Zone 2 or Zone 1 trees are much more likely to do well. Mountain hemlock is nominally zone 3, but grows where it gets LOTS of snow in winter. I killed 500 of them learning this.

The larger the container, the better their chances in winter.  An insulated container is better. Best is a container on the ground, with insulation on the sides, but not the bottom. If on a deck, the bottom should be insulated too.

Contaner survival is a matter of how fast the roots cool.  Trees that I routinely overwinter in containers:

Tree candidates

Shrub candidates

Trees that don't work well:

Shrubs that don't work well

The Container

My tax preparer had a spruce tree on his deck in a 2 foot cube box. The box was lined with 1" of styrofoam, and had suitable drainage through the bottom. That tree was happy on the deck until it hit the deck 2 floors up. The depth is excessive. 12-16" is fine.

Having the container in firm contact with the ground will help it survive. The ground acts as a source of heat. On a deck, you can put it on a heat mat, then plug the heat mat into one of these plugs that has a thermostat set at -7 C. This will keep the roots warm enough. In this case the layering is:

If the heat mat runs, you should be able to plant anything hardy in zone 3, assuming we don't get another -53 C winter.

Typical Pine

Lodgepole Pine in our front yard.



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Sherwood's Forests is located about 75 km southwest of Edmonton, Alberta. Please refer to the map on our Contact page for directions.