People always a search to find a way to bring color into their landscape during the wintertime. There are plants that are amazing accents to the garden but sometimes you don’t have the space or the money to add these specimens to your yard. Colorful winter container plantings are the answer!
Containers are a great way to achieve rotating color and consistency, but you may ask “What can I use in the dead of winter?” We will look at different approaches you can take with your winter container plantings - some of which can be zero cost to you with a little legwork.
Buying New Plants
Whichever approach you take the main goal is to display vibrant colors. For larger containers you can use smaller nursery stock. Check out your local nursery and see what they feature in the winter. Most of the plants will be stored away but anything with winter interest will likely be pulled to the front.
The size of your container will dictate what size plant material you can purchase. Some of the bigger containers may need a 3-5 gallon shrub in order to get the proper effect. If you do have a container this size, see if the plants you buy can find a forever home in your landscape next year. Most of the plants I will recommend next are great varieties for winter container plantings in the St. Louis area.
A container that I made this year
The old container planting adage of including a “thriller” (the main focus and height), a “filler” (plants to fill the middle layer), and a “spiller” (plants that cascade over the edge), still applies when creating colorful winter container plantings.
One of the most used “thrillers” is the Red Twig Dogwood. Its vibrant red stems give great height and color. Some other plants that can be used as the “thriller” could be Green Mountain Boxwood, Blue Spruce, or Heavenly Bamboo.
Red Twig Dogwood
There are a lot of species you can use as “filler” from dwarf evergreens to semi evergreen perennials and annuals. One of my favorite “fillers” is Carex grass. Its golden color is a great contrast to deep greens or bright reds. Other choices for “fillers” could be Helebore, Liriope, or Kale. You can even use cuttings of trees and shrubs which I will discuss later.
Carex Evergold Grass
“Spillers” can be a little harder to find for a winter container. Most of the containers I make, I usually use evergreen boughs. For a true vine English Ivy is a great option. A few small Chamaecyparis around the edge of the pot can give a good spilling effect because of its droopy appearance and also gives a great burst of gold.
Budget Friendly Options
Purchasing new plants for a winter container gives you good color and control over the types of plants you use and the quality. However, there is an option for people with limited space or who don’t have the budget to go out and buy nursery stock.
Another container that I made this year
It will take a bit of scouting but some of the most impressive winter containers I have seen, and the ones I usually produce myself, cost nothing! You can find the specimens that you want to use to fill your pot and take cuttings from them. Some of the specimens from your own or a friend’s landscape work just as well as the plant material from nursery!
A few great “thrillers” are stems of Red Twig or Yellow Twig Dogwood, the plumes from grasses, and the stems from Contorted Filibert.
Contorted Filbert stems
There are many plants that can be used as “fillers”; I really like to use deciduous holly to get a great berry show, Southern Magnolia for a deep green background, and White Pine for a soft bluish green.
Winterberry Red Holly
For “spillers” you can use Spruce or Fir boughs, Hemlocks work great too. I personally use a real Christmas tree every year and buy a slightly larger height than I need. Then I can do a little pruning to get the shape I really want. I take a lot of the branches I cut and use them in different displays.
You can really get a great container by using what Mother Nature provides you as a lot of the plants that I discussed can be easily found in the landscape. Just remember to prune responsibly and don’t trespass to get your cuttings.
Another container that I made this year
Watering Tips to Long Lasting, Colorful Winter Container Plantings
To get your container material to last as long as possible give it a good watering and continue to do so once a week until the pot freezes solid. Winter containers can provide great color accent to your landscape or just be used as a holiday decoration, however you choose to use them have fun, take pictures, and play with different combinations of plants!
Ready for some help with your winter container plantings? We service lawns in these areas: Chesterfield, Wildwood, Town & Country, Ladue, St. Albans, Ellisville, Glencoe, Ballwin and more!
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