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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Trachelospermum, Landscaping drain fields, Camellia

Here is the situation: I have six inches between the cement wall and the septic drain field. I want a green screen between myself and the neighbors on the other side of the short cement wall. What can I grow that will give me a green screen and not invade the septic system pipes? All I can think of is some sort of climbing vine, but I am not familiar with which root systems could be a problem.


You have a real challenge with your situation. Most of the literature says that you should not plant any large shrub or tree within 30 feet of a septic system drain field.

Roots growing into the drain field is a serious concern. They recommend consulting an expert if you do want to plant near a drain field.

Instead, you might consider installing an attractive fence and/or using containers to grow plants in. For example, Camellias can be grown on a trellis from a container. They are evergreen, and will also flower. Another vine-like plant is star jasmine, Trachelospermum jasminoides. It is evergreen with fragrant white flowers.

Date 2018-08-15
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Failure to flower, Trachelospermum

I bought an established, white star jasmine perennial vine one year ago. I was told I could plant it in an extremely large pot and expect to enjoy blooms for about 3 years, but it has not bloomed, nor does it have any buds. It has no pests or blight of any kind. It gets full sun in the morning and partial during the day, and full again in late afternoon. It has always had sufficient water. What's wrong? When do they normally bloom? Was I given inaccurate information?


I am assuming the star jasmine is Trachelospermum jasminoides, as shown in this image from Missouri Botanical Garden.

Failure to flower can be due to a number of causes, as described in this link from University of Vermont Extension.

My top guesses for what may be causing the lack of flowers would be exposure to severe cold in the winter, or over-fertilizing with a nitrogen-heavy fertilizer. The light exposure you describe sounds fine for this plant. In the Pacific Northwest, it flowers mainly from spring to early summer. This link to a Seattle garden writer's site has cultural information appropriate for this region (I don't know where you are writing from).

Date 2019-05-16
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Berberis, Trachelospermum, Euonymus, Taxus baccata, Screens, Thuja, Nandina domestica, Hydrangea, Ilex, Hedges, Clematis, Buxus, Bamboo

Could you recommend some plants for a privacy screen that are also narrow? These would be planted in front of a fence in our backyard.


Here is some general information on plants for creating a screen.

Trees for Problem Landscape Sites -- Screening from Virginia Cooperative Extension

Bet on Hedges by local garden writer Valerie Easton.

Landscaping for Privacy: Innovative Ways to Turn Your Outdoor Space into a Peaceful Retreat by PNW author Marty Wingate.

Here is a list of narrow plants for a screen from local garden designer Chris Pfeiffer: "Fastigiate shrubs for naturally narrow hedges." Compiled by Chris Pfeiffer. 2005.

Zones 5-6:

American arborvitae 'Rheingold' (Thuja occidentalis 'Rheingold') 5'h x 3'w

Barberry 'Helmond Pillar' (Berberis thunbergii f. atropurpurea 'Helmond Pillar') 6'h x 2'w

Boxwood 'Graham Blandy' (Buxus sempervirens 'Graham Blandy') 8'h x 1-1/2' w

English yew 'Standishii' (Taxus baccata 'Standishii') 4'h x 1-1/2' w

Irish yew (Taxus baccata 'Fastigiata') 20' h x 4' w

Japanese holly Jersey pinnacle (Ilex crenata 'Jersey Pinnacle') 6' h x 4' w

Japanese holly Mariesii (Ilex crenata 'Mariesii') 3' h x 1-1/2' w

Zones 7-9, in addition to the above:

Dwarf yeddo rhaphiolepis (Rhaphiolepis umbellata Gulf GreenTM) 3-4' h x 2' w

Heavenly bamboo 'Gulf Stream' (Nandina domestica 'Gulf Stream') 4' h x 2' w

Japanese euonymus 'Green Spire' (Euonymus japonicus 'Green Spire') 15' h x 6' w

You might also consider installing a trellis to increase the height of the fence, and then growing an evergreen vine such as Clematis armandii, evergreen hydrangea (Hydrangea seemanii), or star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides).

This link is also helpful (scroll down to "Evergreen Vines" and look for appropriate height and light requirements).

You could grow bamboo, but I would recommend growing it in a container, or a series of containers, as you do not want the roots to spread. I have seen an effective bamboo screen between two houses growing in a long rectangular lined wooden trough (lined with bamboo barrier). Some species of bamboo are more tolerant of partial shade than others. Look for a clumping, rather than a running, bamboo (like Fargesia) to be on the safe side.

Growing Bamboo in Georgia

Running and Clumping Bamboos

Bamboos for hedges or tall privacy screens

Date 2019-04-18
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Morella californica, Arbutus unedo, Trachelospermum, Osmanthus, Native plants--Washington, Screens, Wisteria, Viburnum

A friend asked me about screening two large propane tanks that, unfortunately, have had to be placed in front of their home on Camano Island. She mentioned wisteria to me and I shuddered. I've seen this plant do a lot of damage to trellis and home alike. Can you recommend, instead, an evergreen solution to this problem?


I am not familiar with the size and shape of propane tanks, but perhaps evergreen shrubs might work to screen them. A concern would be the proximity to the house, and any needed clearance for paths, doorways, and windows. I think you are right to avoid Wisteria. Does your friend prefer the idea of planting vines, or would shrubs be acceptable?

Here are a few suggestions for evergreen shrubs, with links from the local web site, Great Plant Picks:

Some good information is also available about plants for screening (from Virginia Cooperative Extension) and vines, especially evergreen vines such as Trachelospermum jasminoides, which might be a good solution. Local garden writer Valerie Easton on has written helpfully about hedges, as well.

Date 2018-09-29
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