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Richard Criley Department of Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences - page 2 / 4





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HG- 43

Enhancing your Länai, Balcony, or Patio with Container Plants

CTAHR — Aug. 2002

Watering Water until you see water draining from the bottom of the container. As a general rule, let the plant approach a slight wilting point and the soil surface dry before the next watering. Because plant water requirements vary, not every plant will need the same amount of water.

It is a good idea to put plants together that have simi- lar water requirements.

Länai plant care Fred D. Rauch and Paul R. Weissich, authors of Plants for Tropical Landscapes: A Gardener’s Guide (Univer- sity of Hawaii Press, 2000), offer some suggestions for enhancing the chances of success for länai plants:

  • Wash the foliage frequently to remove accumulated dust.

  • Water whenever the soil surface is dry—not just on a schedule.

  • Avoid letting water stand in the drainage saucer—at least more than an inch of it.

  • Fertilize regularly—liquid and slow-release fertiliz- ers are both easily applied.

  • Turn the pots about a quarter turn once a week to ex- pose all parts of the plant to maximum light.

  • Know the rules for your building, especially with re- spect to the amount of weight the länai is engineered to bear, preventing runoff of water onto the lanai be- low or onto the parking deck, and branches that over- reach your space and shed leaves onto your neighbor’s länai.

Suggested plants for use on länai and patios

Palms Young palms will be attractive for a while, but they may have to be moved out as they grow larger.

Coconut—attractive up through the first 4 or 5 leaf stage.

Fishtail palm—good dark green foliage; tends to spread out as it puts on more leaves.

Pigmy date palm—light, airy, but leaflets at base of the frond are very sharp!

Cascade palm—makes good tubbed specimen, but re- quires some protection from drying winds; good for


partially shaded environments.

Bamboo palm—good in tubs; fast growing; makes a good screen; needs some protection from drying winds.

Areca palm—one of the most common for container culture; multi-stemmed; tends to be golden yellow in high light (this is normal!); requires well drained, fertile soil and lots of water.

Bottle palm—young plants have a swollen base and stiff horizontal fronds; full sun, moderate watering.

Lady palm—slow growing, dark green; tolerates shade well; somewhat tolerant of drought and salt; excellent as potted plant; variegated forms highly prized in Ja- pan.

Manila palm—young plants are attractive as container specimens; easy to grow from seed; full sun to moder- ate shade; moderate drought and salt tolerance.

Tropical vines Many flowering vines have good tolerance of high light and winds. They do need some managing to keep them in bounds. Most vines will need some support, such as a small trellis.

Bougainvillea—vigorous; good color; avoid over-wa- tering and high-nitrogen fertilizers; prune back to stimu- late the new wood on which flowers are borne.

Pandorea—bears trumpet-shaped, rose-pink to white flowers; tends to be somewhat seasonal in its blooming.

Pink trumpet vine (Podranea)sprawling shrub with showy clusters of pink flowers much of the year; good wind and drought tolerance.

Orange trumpet vine, huapala—grows rapidly; sea- sonal display of pendent orange flowers; full sun.

Philodendron—numerous species; require shaded con- ditions without too much wind; train on trellis or pole; hanging baskets.

Stephanotis—fragrant, waxy, white flowers in spring

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