Winter Container Garden How-To

001
To create a holiday container, select a container that complements your garden style. Fill with a lightweight mixture of soil which will make the container more portable.

002
Select cut evergreens that have a cascading form and place them around the rim of the pot.

003
Create a focal point with a contrasting evergreen especially one that holds its shape and will provide verticality. Southern Magnolia is especially good for strong textural look and with shiny leaves that have an under leaf of golden brown.

004
Insert cut stems of sparkleberry commonly called native holly (Ilex verticillata) this adds the final touch to a four-layered container that will look festive and inviting for the holidays.

005
Stem lights are optional but they do make the container come alive at night—adding sparkle and pizazz to your front door

Winter and Holiday Containers

Holiday container at front steps makes for an inviting entrance.

Holiday container at front steps makes for an inviting entrance.

Most gardeners don’t consider using planted containers for the winter months—but with the proper selection of hardy plants you can have a welcoming, colorful container flanking your front door.

The first consideration is to select a frost proof pot that has good drainage. Fiberglass, cement, lead and stone are all weather-resistant —selecting ones that are architecturally interesting as well as being compatible with the style of your home is crucial. Avoid using plastic and terra cotta as they will not hold up to the freezing and thawing that occurs during the cold months of the season.

Many small trees and shrubs with interesting bark and colorful stems can be used as strong focal points especially if the container is rather large. My preference is to use a range of interesting evergreens that have wonderful texture with varied colors—silvery blue, gold and chartreuse, grey green along with deep greens blend well and play well against each other—they can be especially wonderful covered with snow and ice. Heathers, heaths, ornamental grasses and some sedums enhance the base of the evergreens and can cascade beautifully. Consider the contrast of using tall vertical evergreens surrounded and skirted by a differing colored conifer spilling from the pot. Winter containers can be astonishing in their simplicity as well as complex in the use of contrasting and varied plants.

The overall winter landscape can be bland and devoid of color, but with some time and effort you can infuse your walkways and doorways with wonderful potted creations that enliven your home reflecting your personality and making winter a little bit more exciting.