Winter Container Garden Ideas
Display plant materials in your patio and entryway containers during late fall and winter, even when frosts and freezes dominate. Depending on your winter climate, you may be able to display cool-season annuals or opt to place a hardy shrub or tree in your containers to prevent them from looking barren and lifeless, according to “Container Gardening” authors. Remember that as long as the soil is not frozen, plants still require some watering to prevent roots and leaves from dying.
Winter container gardening tips
Choose the right pot
If you live in a cold-winter area with long stretches of below-freezing temperatures, you will need to put away your terracotta, ceramic or plastic pots for the winter. These are likely to shatter if exposed to repeated freezes and thaws. Stick with pots made of wood, concrete or poly resin for your winter garden, and the larger the better. Plants are likelier to freeze in pots smaller than 14 inches in diameter.
Choose the right plants
There are many annuals that are bright spots of color through fall and into winter. Many will tolerate even mild freezing temperatures. Look for these at your garden center: pansies, stock Snapdragon, calendula, cyclamen, candytuft, nemesia etc.
Great looking perennials that take to life in a container and will brighten up your winter garden include:
coral bells, chrysanthemums, sedum, calibrachoa, primrose.
You can even mix in small evergreen shrubs to provide form and interest to a winter container. Some to look for:
dwarf Arborvitae, dwarf hollies, dwarf junipers, boxwood.
Once you have your plants, container and potting soil, it’s time to create your winter containers. Here’s an easy pot of annual beauties that will bloom well into winter.
You will need:
- 3 (4-inch) snapdragons, any variety that grows over 16 inches tall
- 1 six pack of stock
- 1 six pack of pansies
- 16-inch diameter pot
Fill your container with soil to 5 inches below the lip. Position the snapdragons in the center of the pot, placing them so they are almost touching. Add potting soil to hold snapdragons in place. Place the stock around the snapdragons, spacing them evenly. Fill in the outer ring with the pansies. Use potting soil to fill in the rest of the pot, leaving a 1-inch lip at the top. Water to settle the soil, and add more to any low spots. Set the flowers in a sunny location.
Display a decorative shrub
Regardless of your expected low temperatures, you can place a container-grown shrub inside your patio container over the winter months. Choose a plant that is winter hardy in your region, perhaps rated to withstand the conditions one zone colder, because containers in winter are subjected to more cold than plants in the ground. Choose a shrub with persistent berries (holly, for example), one that blooms in winter (such as a camellia), or displays colorful or exfoliating bark (red osier dogwood). Dwarf conifers, holly grapes, heavenly bamboo and small rhododendrons have lovely foliage. Mask the soil in the shrub’s container with mulch or decorative items, such as sprigs of evergreens, pinecones, plastic Christmas ornaments or gravel.