Rhus typhina ‘Tiger Eyes’ for container garden

(Question)

I would like to try growing Rhus typhina ‘Tiger Eyes’ in a container on my south-facing balcony in Toronto. While I do have a bit of container gardening experience a little further south (and east), I am wondering if someone can tell me what would be an optimal size for the container in this instance? I am considering a custom-made container fabricated of aluminum (with insulation inside and good drainage holes) to 20 x 20 x 18-inches high. The other option would be a fiberglass and molded resin planter that is 20 x 20 x 20-inches. The aluminum planter can be ordered in practically any dimensions the customer chooses (and cylindrical and tapered, &c., in addition to square). Both options are expensive, but I have had trouble finding acceptable containers for less in Canada, where I am a newcomer. I should add that I know I will occasionally need to move the planted container on the balcony, and obviously the balcony situation presents its own weight considerations. Also, I don’t mind if the pot restricts the plant’s full growth size, and I have had success with in-pot root pruning to rejuvenate containerized hardy shrubs. All in all, then, does anyone know if the planters I have described are suitable with regard to dimensions and materials? Is one clearly better? And, is there some other way to give Tiger Eyes Sumac a fighting chance on a balcony? Thanks for any help you can give.

(Answer)

Horticulturist and garden writer Brian Minter describes Tiger Eyes Sumac as a good choice for growing in a container and “pretty enough to showcase in a great big pot all by itself.”  The size of each of the planters you describe would probably be fine. The plant should look like it fits without being squeezed into the container.

You might consider placing the planter on a dolly with casters if the plant needs to be rotated to take advantage of light or moved to a protected place during bad weather.

And as for whether to choose aluminium or fibreglass and moulded resin there are a few things to consider. Metal offers a contemporary look with different finishes and it will not chip, crack or break. The challenge with metal, however, is heat. Even if insulated it will still heat up whereas outdoor resin and fibreglass planters are ideal for balconies or porches where weight must be a consideration.

As with all types of planters, it is important to ensure resin planters have adequate drainage holes and air circulation around the roots. It is also important to consider the color of resin pots and exposure to the sun, as dark colors tend to absorb and retain more heat than lighter colors.

https://www.gardeningbc.com/page/brianminter48.html

https://urbanext.illinois.edu/containergardening/choosing_shape.cfm

And for a more in-depth look at balcony gardening take a look at https://torontobalconiesbloom.ca/images/stories/PDFs/BloomingOurBalconies.pdf