Planting a Winter Container


The container plantings here at the Fairegarden are never satisfactory. The containers themselves, mostly colorful glazed pots and some hypertufa troughs are found to be more attractive than anything I can figure out to plant in them. For a round up of the containers, click here, here, and for the how to post on making the hypertufa trough, here.


Annuals are fun, but need more watering and feeding than I am willing to do to keep them nice. I want plant it and forget it types. Miniature evergreens fit the bill for some of them, with some sedums and hardy perennials doing well. But they just don’t look that good to my eyes, there is no wow to them.

november-28-2008-thanksgiving-005
There are three large containers in the line of sight from my cozy, comfy lazyboy in the addition, two turquoise and one dark green. In the past, they have been planted with lemon cypress trees, Cupressus macrocarpa ‘Goldcrest’ from the grocery, sold as miniature Christmas trees.


I loved the way they looked and sometimes added violas in winter and summer annuals for the warmer months. The little trees were getting too large and one of them died, so the still living other two were planted in the ground. Coleus cuttings were stuck in the new potting soil and looked okay until frost zapped them.


Evergreen clippings and large grapevine balls with tiny white lights were installed in the three pots as holiday decor. It was not up to snuff and a recent visit to B.B. Barns nursery in Asheville, North Carolina found some nice kale plants, a new to me Heuchera and little violas jumping into the shopping cart for use in the empty pots.


Following the norm of tightwadedness, these plants are not nearly enough to fill the containers properly. Let us go shopping in the garden for some evergreen perennials that can be used to fill in the blanks. Free!


Several plants were dug, keeping in mind the foliage color, texture, form and leaf size. With the darkness of the Heuchera ‘Autumn Leaves’, and Redbor kale, reds were avoided and gold, blue, silver and green were sought out.


Here are the plants that were dug from the garden to add to the purchases: golden alexander, Zizia aurea, volunteer salad burnet, Sanguisorba officinalis, Dianthus volunteer of mixed parentage, lambs ear, Stachys byzantina, wooly yarrow, Achillea tomentosa, Acorus gramineus ‘Ogon’, Geranium x cantabrigiense ‘Biokovo’, Festuca glauca, Vinca minor ‘Illumination’, and seedlings of love in a mist, Nigella damascena. I do love shopping for plants in my own garden, yes, it’s another link.


After the plants were installed, rocks and small hypertufa balls, click here for instructions on making them, were placed strategically to deter the digging of devil squirrels. There will still be digging up of the plants, for the critters here are not easily deterred, but we will keep a close watch on the containers and replant. Daily, if needed.


It will be interesting and fun to watch the free plants mingle with the store boughts. Maybe this will be the time that the container plantings bring a smile over the cold months. Maybe.

Frances

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19 Responses to Planting a Winter Container

  1. Mark and Gaz says:

    Interesting to see what you came up with, very creative combinations! The first one if my favourite container but all are very nice!

    Hi Mark and Gaz, thanks for visiting. The first photo is of the plants in the box from the garden center. Spreading that wealth to three containers was the mission, and to fill in with stuff from the garden then put rocks so the squirrels don’t ruin it all.
    Frances

  2. “Shopping in the garden” is EXACTLY what the garden’s for! ;)
    great designs!

    So true, Karen, and thanks. After twelve years, the garden has turned into a super center rather than the corner grocery it started out as. I love it!
    Frances

  3. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    That tall kale is pretty. I love finding little starts to use in pots. I hope yours survive and thrive.

    Hi Lisa, thanks for stopping by. I do love that kale, it lasts well here in the ground, so should be fine in containers close to the house. If only I can keep the pots watered this should work.
    Frances

  4. I need to find some nice pots to leave out all winter to pot up some dried seedheads and boughs for display…so nice to be able to plant out some containers in winter. No such luck here, but I look forward to yours.

    Hi Donna, thanks for visiting. In front there are allium seedballs and some greenery will be added to make things festive. Such a good way to decorate for the winter.
    Frances

  5. Layanee says:

    I shopped in the garden this spring when I had so many containers to fill for a garden tour. My favorite containers were made with plants mostly from the indoor garden. I know you will enjoy watching these treasures fill out. Great idea. Sometimes we forget to see what is right there in front of us.

    Hi Layanee, thanks for sharing. Using plants from the garden makes so much sense. It might be that the purchased ones need to grow a little more to fill in, or we could use ALL plants from the garden, too. I might try that next spring.
    Frances

  6. “Shopping in the garden” is such a great idea and wandering the pathways of yours must be like hitting the aisles of Costco and finding great bargains and/or treasures!
    When the cold weather finally settles in, I’ll harvest colorful nandina branches for the leaves and the berriy clusters to put in left out pots that are easily seen from inside my house. I’ve not thought to dig live plant material, though, and make use of garden offerings that way.

    HA, Michaele! I have never been to Costco, but have heard it is quite the shopping extravaganza, so the comparison is apt. After so many years, but especially since I started allowing much more self sowing and letting the garden plant itself, it is indeed a shopping haven. The nandina berries, banished from the garden but still growing in every neighbor’s yard, are the perfect outdoor Christmas decor. Good going!
    Frances

  7. Randy says:

    Frances,
    I’m getting the urge to do more containers this Winter. Your post only inspires me more! Happy holidays!

    Hi Randy, thanks. Do plant some containers, these already are bringing smiles to the viewer from inside, and when we go outside in this nice weather.
    Frances

  8. Rose says:

    The finished pots are lovely, Frances! I usually don’t worry much about winter containers, because they don’t last through the winter here, and I hate to spend too much money on something so short-lived. But you’ve inspired me–I have the same purple ruffled kale in my vegetable garden. Next year I’m going to plant more and dig it up for free container plants! I like tightwaddedness:)

    Thanks Rose. The redbor kale is the most gorgeous of all of those winter hardy, here anyway, kales. I like your tightwaddedness!
    Frances

  9. Cindy says:

    I want to come sit in the addition with you and enjoy the view for myself! I love how creative you are with your container plantings. I need to be bolder!

    Come on over and sit a while, Cindy! I am terrible with container plantings, but am hoping this combo will prove to be a little more bold than most.
    Frances

  10. Alison says:

    I’m not a big fan of the big round ornamental kales that look like big roses and are planted everywhere for winter interest, but I really love that tall dark kale that you found for your containers. They look smashing in those turquoise containers, which turned out great with all your additions from the garden. I especially like that sweet Dianthus of unknown parentage.

    Hi Alison, thanks for stopping by. I like all of the ornamental kales, and regular edible ones, as well, but Redbor is the longest lasting here. I realized about the dianthus that if they don’t get deadheaded or sheared, they make babies! I love seeing the mix of colors and shapes and sizes of them. Most all shades of pink with some whites. A very good plant.
    Frances

  11. Dee A. Nash says:

    Your evergreens are fun. I saw some at the grocery store yesterday . . . .

    Thanks Dee. My grocery does have any yet and want to add some more along the fence on the hill. They do well here.
    Frances

  12. Lola says:

    Beautiful Frances. I love to shop in the garden [nature in my case]. I would like to know the name of the vine in the 3rd from last pic. It has the toothed edged leaf [the one close to bottom of pic]. I had that come up volunteer & thought it a weed of sorts. I also have a volunteer cedar come up that I’m thinking of using for the holidays. It has to be moved at best.

    Thanks, Lola. The toothed edge plant in the blue tub of things that were dug to go into the containers is salad burnet, Sanguisorba officinalis. It is not a vine, so might not be the same as what you have, but it does self sow. Those little cedars pop up all over here, too. They are cute and would make lovely holiday decor.
    Frances

  13. entwinedlife says:

    So enjoyed your Holiday Decor!

    Thanks!

  14. Several weeks ago I prunned my Blue Ice Cedars and started four trees in containers. They are doing well and I am so excited about plantling them in the spring. The color and fragrance of these cedars when I am on the front porch is unbelievable. Wish I could bottle and sell it (to buy more plants, of course).

    Hi Sharon, thanks for adding in here. Your cedars sound delightful, way to shop in your garden and make some free plants. I love that scent, too.
    Frances

  15. Very nice, Frances. You do have a way with your arrangements!

    Thanks PP. Perhaps these will give a better show than my usual paltry plantings.
    Frances

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