Postage Stamp Garden NYC
April 13, 2019 7:08 PM   Subscribe

What should I plant in a tiny NYC garden space? and any other relevant advice for a first-timer.

Hello I have a tiny outdoor south-facing space that I would like to put some plants in, however, i have no idea how to go about this. I need attractive, easy and ideally indestructible plants/flowers I can obtain for non-exorbitant prices in NYC. Any advice appreciated in terms of how/where/when I should go about doing this? As in what order should I plant things, what plants are suitable, where should I go to look/shop etc. (To be planted in soil, not planters to clarify).
posted by bquarters to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you're south facing you should have a decent amount of sun- what about sunflowers? Easy to grow from seed, tons of lovely varieties to chose from? Seed packets are much cheaper than plants too.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 7:11 PM on April 13

(My question, about my pond, is right below yours, and I'm in NYC too! what are the odds?)

I want to know how much sunlight you get and if you want annuals, perennials, or evergreens. I also want to know more about the space you have, is there a path for walking, etc.? I want to know more! Could you possibly post pictures?

That said -- my suggestion would be to go to one of the Greenmarkets. I buy tons of plants at the Union Square Greenmarket. Saturday is the best day/most plants. A great thing is that they will help you choose.

Perennials come back every year, but they generally have a relatively short flowering time so you should look around at different plants and look them up to see when they flower and for how long. Often there's a tag in the soil of each plant that gives you that basic information, plus how much sunlight the plant needs. Annuals are plants that flower all spring/summer but then die when it gets cold and you just have to pull them out and start over (but their long blooming season makes them desireable and you can get lots of them for not a lot of money). If you have a good amount of sunlight, like at least 6-8 hours a day, you can buy the annuals that are all over the place.

It would be good to have a mix of annuals and perennials. Sunflowers, as above, are nice, but hundreds of types of plants are nice. Again, I'd like to see the space. Maybe you have enough room to plant some taller plants at the boundaries of your little space, and then, as you move inward, get shorter plants, to make a nice shape.

Really you can do trial and error if you're not too worried about money. You will see what does well and doesn't.
posted by DMelanogaster at 7:21 PM on April 13 [1 favorite]

What size is tiny? How many square feet of grow space do you have?
posted by Lyn Never at 7:23 PM on April 13 [3 favorites]

If you take your cooking seriously, herbs are fun. If you are willing to build a little support, climbing plants are also amusing. They can be veggies like green beans or flowers like morning glories.
posted by SemiSalt at 4:47 AM on April 14

What do you like? Do you like grasses and perennials? Do you like small flowering shrubs? Do you want native to encourage pollinators and birds?

South facing gives you many many options, which is lovely, but I think narrowing down the aesthetics of what you want before you choose plants is going to give the best results!
posted by lydhre at 5:19 AM on April 14

I live in Philly but have a small balcony to plant on. I started with herbs because they’re easy and useful - dill, basil, and cilantro all thrived with minimal attention, so those are the ones I would recommend starting with. I’ve also had luck with annual flowers. I’ve always chosen based on what I thought looked pretty and was labeled with the right amount of sunlight. I’ve grown both flowers and herbs from seeds and starters.
posted by DoubleLune at 5:28 AM on April 14

I wouldn't do sunflowers in that space. They grow tall, the flowers are just at the top – and squirrels love them.

I would do herbs if you cook – chives and parsley are easy, basil's a little trickier (get a strain that at least claims to resist wilt). Dill is easy too but the plants get stringy and a bit raggedy – it's largely a question of form vs function, I guess, and what you use.

Or mix herbs and flowers. I'm a big fan of marigolds – they're bright, they flower all summer, and they ward pests off your other plants. A flat of marigolds (six plants) can't be too expensive. Most other annuals tend to look nice when you plant them, but become mundane once the flowers are done.
posted by zadcat at 6:31 AM on April 14

If it's anything less than 2-4 square feet, you'll get the most bang for buck out of herbs and pollinator-friendly flowers (much needed in the city!), and luckily pollinator-friendly flowers are beautiful and fun and largely undemanding, happy to be crowded together like wildflowers. With some googling you can usually find out exactly what kind of flowers are best in your very specific area (for example, I live on the migration route for two kinds of butterflies that have extremely specific tastes).

For herbs, just know that some are extremely hard to grow in a lot of climates (f'n cilantro, I should give up but I guess I love futility). But chives, sage, rosemary, parsleys (though they do not love serious heat, but re-growing or re-planting is no big deal), basils, mints (note: they'll take over, keep them restrained in their own pot) and thymes are great to have right outside your window.

If you have an entire square foot to dedicate to one single plant, you could grow a patio-variety cherry/grape tomato in a 3-5-gallon container. You must get 6-8 hours of direct sunlight (more is not necessarily better here - in the hottest part of the summer you may need to rig something to provide midday or late-afternoon shade), and you need to be very very consistent with your watering.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:09 PM on April 14

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