I have something to add to your fall garden to do list. You may protest now, but you’ll thank me in January. Pot up at least one
container with plants that are interesting in winter. Place the container somewhere you can see it from indoors and where it will
be easy to water. Do this in autumn and you’ll have a spot of color to carry you through the winter months.
Select the Right Container Material for Winter
First select a pot that can hold up to freezing temperatures. Concrete, stone, wood, fiberglass and cast iron are good choices for
winter. Avoid containers that are cracked and terra cotta because it is soft and porous. Frozen water in cracks and pores can cause
the terra cotta to chip or crack.
Cold Hardiness of Plants in Containers
Plants in containers are less cold hardy than those planted in the ground because the roots are not insulated as well. For the best
results choose plants that are suitable for regions that are at least two zones colder than your own. For example, red twig dogwood
is cold hardy to zone 4 so I can plant it in a container in my zone 7 garden and expect it to winter over. If you are not sure what
your zone is.
Using a large container will provide the roots with more soil for insulation and a layer of mulch on top will keep them extra cozy.
Be sure to keep the mulch away from the plant crown to prevent rot. The crown is the area where the stems meet the soil.
Caring for Your Winter Container Garden
Try to pot up your container in time to give the plants several weeks to get established before the first hard freeze. Water the
container once a week if the weather is dry; check on it once a month if rain is plentiful. If it gets cold enough for the soil to
freeze, you can stop watering all together. Spraying evergreens with an anti-transpirant like Wilt-Pruf will help them retain
Winter container garden recipe
Because blooms and color are minimal in winter be bold with form and texture. This plant combination contrasts vertical, round and
cascading elements. The yellow twig dogwood provides a spark of color.
‘Tempelhof’ Hinoki False Cypress (cold hardy to 0°F in a container)
‘Flaviramea’ Yellow Twig Dogwood (cold hardy -30°F in a container)
‘Rainbow’ Leucothoe (cold hardy to -10°F in a container)
‘Golden Baby’ Ivy (cold hardy to -5°F in a container)
‘Ogon’ Acorus (cold hardy to 5°F in a container)
24-inch diameter container
Cold Hardy Plant List
- Daffodil ‘February Gold’, species crocus & galanthus–Tuck a few early season bulbs into your container for late winter blooms.
- Deciduous hollies
- Dwarf evergreen hollies
- Dwarf junipers
- Dwarf spruce
- “Green Gem’ boxwood
- Ornamental cabbage
- Ornamental kale
- Yucca filamentosa
Good to Know
Gardeners who live in extremely cold areas can fake a winter container garden. Insert cut evergreen branches and berried stems into a pot filled
with soil. Spray the branches with an antitranspirant to help them stay fresh. Cover the soil with pinecones or mulch.