Container gardening is not just for summer!
I was going to wait until Friday for my weekly Friday Flower post, but decided this was more timely. You might want to do some last minute outdoor plantings for the holidays, using either some of my suggestions here and/or a combination of holiday greens. You can always add evergreen branches, holly, berries, magnolias or nandina to any of these suggestions!


This planter sits on our front step.


There are four essentials for creating a container garden for winter:

#1. The correct container:

If you live where the temperature falls below 32°, then you must be careful in what container to choose. A terra cotta container, set out in your garden, may well crack with a cold winter. So what kind of container is best? A synthetic, man made container is my recommendation: they are lightweight and can certainly withstand any kind of cold! Fiberglass, sandstone, vinyl, and galvanized steel are some ideas for cold-hardy planters.

Another idea is to use a ceramic glazed planter or pot. The glaze will help to protect the pot from cracking during very cold weather. I use these here in North Carolina and have never had a problem.

A fairly new kind of container is Hypertufa. Do you know about these? Made from a mix of cement, perlite and peat moss you then mold it in any shape you want. The result is a stone like, very strong and wonderfully textured container. You can find more information here and here.

#2. Soil

As usual, you need to get the soil right! I use a mix of high quality potting soil and add some Bio-Tone Starter. This should give the plants a nice start.

#3. Depth of planting and soil

If your plantIer is tall I find that it’s such a waste to fill the entire container with soil (and makes it very heavy.)  So I use an Ups-A-Daisy insert! I’ve written about them before, and again,  and use them in almost every pot I have. Very easy and practical.

#4. Your Plants

You need winter hardy plants! This will vary according to your climate. See below for some ideas, and what is doing well here in Zone 7b.


With the Ups-a-Daisy, all set to plant.



You can see the Bio-tone I use, in combination with potting soil.


The planter, finished. I used:
Flowering Kale: ‘Songbird Red’
Ajuga: ‘Silver Queen’
Ivy ‘Gold Child’






For the planter at top of post, and below, I used:

Creeping Cotoneaster ‘Tom Thumb’
Flowering Kale


Finally, I AM using these terra cotta planters below. I have them (won at an auction), they have been sitting idle and empty all summer, so I’ll risk a crack. Anyway, they are fairly protected…sitting right on my front steps where I can keep track of them.



Here are the supplies…


This planter also has:
Heuchera ‘Coco’ and ‘Sweet Tart’



Here is a good article on Choosing the Right Planter

If you want to see some really stunning outdoor holiday containers, take a look at Deborah Silver’s blog, Dirt Simple, and specifically at One Stem At a Time and At A Glance: One Stem At a Time.  Deborah runs Detroit Garden Works and does some of the most beautiful landscape and garden design anywhere. Her blog is a feast for the eyes! And yes, I’ve pinned many of these images!

I hope you’ve enjoyed, and learned from, this short visual tutorial. And I hope you will experiment with some kind of planting, whether large or small, outside for the winter.