Who says trees need to be rooted to the ground? Like Dr. Radhika Balakrishnan, you could grow them easily on your terrace. Her terrace garden is home to dwarf varieties of drumstick, lemon, allamanda, parijat and oleander trees. The saplings are planted in grow bags of 18” diameter- 24” height. Landscapist Lakshmi Sriram, who helped plant these trees-in-pots, recommends a soil mix of vermicompost, decomposed cow dung or goat peat, neem cake powder, red soil, river sand and coco peat. “Trees on the terrace require five litres of water every day, but don’t water in excess, as this would drain out nutrients from the soil,” says Lakshmi.
As a pest deterrent, give these trees a fortnightly spray of neem oil based bio-pesticide and panchagavya, mixing about 2 ml of each in a litre of water. The drumstick trees grew to a height of three feet within a year, and started yielding from the seventh month. To ensure a rich yield, you need to harvest its leaves once in 10 days.
Drumstick leaves being nutrient-rich, this is a happy proposition.
Another charm of dwarf drumstick (chedi murungai) and dwarf parijat trees is they don’t attract kambli poochi (woollen caterpillars) that attack their regular varieties. As for lemon trees, you could let its foliage grow wild. Expect a yield within a month of planting it. The dwarf allamanda grows to six or seven feet. Maximise its flower yield by continuously pruning it.
Meanwhile, the dwarf parijat starts flowering within two months of planting, and grows to a height of four to five feet. Dwarf oleander trees too flower in a matter of months, and reach a height of five to six feet.
These trees are perennial. While September is the best time to start planting on the terrace, if you want to start right away, use overhead green nets to cut off 50 per cent of the sunlight.