How to plant containers that will brighten your winter

If you think that your garden has to go to sleep each winter, then think again.  A spot of colour and life in your outdoor space can ease the winter doldrums. Planted pots and containers can bring joy and cheer to the garden all year round, and ensure there are still plenty of plants on show throughout the darker months when little else is of interest.

So, don’t put your gardening gear away just yet and follow our tips for a fantastic, cold hardy container display.

Choosing your container

Choose a container that is both robust and durable for year-round use.  Terracotta, wooden, earthenware and glazed ceramic pots are strong enough to withstand hard winter months and will survive the many frosts, snow and cold weather without cracking.

It is important to ensure the containers you choose have large drainage hole in the bottom and pot feet or stands are an essential accessory over winter to help aiding drainage, avoid waterlogging and keep away pesky pests.

For the ultimate winter display, we recommend a large container that is at least 18 inches in diameter and can comfortably hold around 10 plants.

Planting

Light up your garden this winter with plants with colourful foliage, grasses, evergreen shrubs, and conifers which are ideal for providing height and structure in the centre of your container.  Compliment with vibrant winter bedding for a display with the wow factor.  Here are some of our favourites to plant up this season:

Flowering plants: Winter bedding plants such as pansies, violas, cyclamen and primroses to create a kaleidoscope of colour in the shorter days.

Evergreen shrubs: Viburnum, mahonia, skimmia, heucheras and hebes are great shrubs that produce some bright blooms in the dark days.   Winter-flowering heathers in wonderful shades of white, pink and purple are a valuable winter source of nectar for pollinating insects. Other attractive additions to the garden at this time include daphne, sarcococca and winter jasmine that will produce plumes of sweetly scented flowers over the winter months.

Berries:  Berries provide a distinctive Christmas twist to a Christmas container.  Plants such as callicarpa, gaultheria, holly, pyracantha and skimmia all produce clusters of shiny, bright fruits in autumn and winter to illuminate your landscape.

Spring Bulbs: These won’t flower until spring but will provide a colourful lift after a long, dark winter.  Popular flowers such as snowdrops, crocus, daffodils and tulip signal the first day of spring and can be planted in the late part of the year for a fine display in containers, when other plants are dying down.

Herbs: An aromatic and fragrant addition to your winter container displays. It’s best to choose evergreen perennials like rosemary, sage, thyme, lavender and mint are hardy enough to survive the cold weather but position them where they’ll receive some sunshine and you’ll be able to use them in your winter comfort food too.

Height and structure:  Consider using focal shrubs in your container like cordyline with its bright, spiky foliage that will create a firework effect in your display, dwarf conifers with their erect, evergreen sprays to add height, or ornamental grasses to add movement and structure.  The rainbow colours of cornus’ stems, under-planted with low winter bedding, perennials and small shrubs will guarantee to illuminate any outdoor space.

Winter care

Light is at its lowest levels over winter so we recommend you position your planted containers where they will receive maximum sunlight. It also helps to either bunch several containers together in a sheltered location, such as under an eave, next to your house, or near a south-facing wall, and then mulch for insulation. You can also protect individual pots with a horticultural fleece or bubble wrap to ensure the root balls of the plant is kept warm.

While you don’t need to feed your container plants over winter, it is recommended to check the compost regularly, as it can dry out easily in mild spells and will need watering.

We would love to know what gardening projects you have this winter, comment below and share your container displays with us and inspire others using #GardenesqueGarden

Looking for more winter garden inspiration?

Garden craft ideas to keep you entertained over the Christmas holiday:
Ways to keep your green-fingers active this winter:

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