Winter Hardy Container Plants

Container gardening in the winter is a good way to have year-round color and foliage. There are a few things to remember when planning which plants to plant.

Be sure to choose a frost-resistant container to plant in. Plastic, fiberglass, wood, and treated terracotta are all good choices. They are less likely to split or crack as temperatures plummet.

Because rootballs are less protected in a container, picking plants two hardiness zones colder than your own will help keep your plants thriving. The North Texas region is in zone 8, so plants that thrive in zones 6 and 7 will overwinter well in zone 8.

The containers should also be raised to help prevent water log, which may lead to rot in more drought-resistant plants that don’t absorb soil-based moisture as quickly. Elevating your plants’ containers will also help reduce the risk of frost damage.

  • Boxwood Shrub

  • Coral Bells

  • Holly

  • Juniper Shrub

  • Mahonia Flower

  • Camellia (Peony) Flower

  • Cyclamen Flower

  • Verbena (Lantana) Flower

  • Loropetalum

  • Cabbage & Kale

  • Lamb's Ear

Evergreens

Evergreens are a good winter hardy plant and come in many varieties.

Boxwood

The boxwood is an example of an evergreen that does well in a container. It can be shaped and made into attractive topiaries.

Boxwood is an easy to grow shrub that can stand up to difficult climates, which makes this rough plant a good choice for winter.

Coral Bells

Coral Bells may not be what you think of when you hear ‘evergreen,’ due to its large, broad leaves. It boasts bright, versatile foliage that will stand out among the darker typical evergreen plants.

Coral Bells have a low, wide growth pattern, giving them a softer and more voluptuous appearance than many of its spikey evergreen cousins.

Holly

Holly is associated with Christmas for a reason, as it is an evergreen with a tolerance for the cold.

This plant’s festive red berries and deep green, pointy leaves make it a popular choice for winter months. Just keep in mind that, if you want it to continue flowering from one year to the next, you will need to plant “male” and “female” shrubs adjacent to each other, to ensure pollenation.

Juniper

Juniper is another evergreen that can be shaped into accents in a container. It is a drought tolerant plant with needle shaped foliage in shades of green or blue-gray.

Juniper produces waxy, blue colored berries that are used to spice various dishes, as well as the distillation of gin.

Mahonia

Mahonia is an evergreen that produces bright yellow blooms in the late winter. It has holly-like foliage that will keep your yard looking sharp even on the bleakest winter days.

Mahonia produces clusters of tart berries in a variety of colors. They are most commonly bluish purple, giving them the nickname of “Oregon grapes.”

Annuals and Perennials

Evergreens are not the only choice for winter container plants.

Camellia

Camellia is a pretty, cold weather blooming plant. It comes in a variety of colors and can be transplanted when it becomes too big for a container.

Cyclamen

Cyclamen is another blooming plant that works well in a container. It’s a hardy plant that will often bloom in winter months.

This plant produces blossoms in pink or deep scarlet, depending on the variety.

Verbena

Verbena can flower even after a frost, and is hardy to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. It has many different color options.

Verbena need regular feedings to stay healthy, and regular pruning to keep it from getting too leggy.

Loropetalum

Loropetalum, also known as Chinese fringe flower, develops a deep purple foliage in the winter. It is a blooming shrub or small tree.

This plant has white or magenta blooms that stand out against the darker foliage for a pretty contrast.

Cabbage/Kale

A different choice for a container would be to plant cabbage or kale. Cabbage gets more intensely colored after a frost. Kale grows in taller, spiky leaves for some height and darker color.

In addition to being attractive, richly colored container plants, they offer the added benefit of bringing healthful leafy greens to the dinner table once they’re ripe for harvesting.

Lamb’s Ear

Lamb’s ear is usually used as a ground cover because it spreads easily. But it can also be planted in containers. It has a velvety texture and is silver in color.

Lamb’s ear is resistant to deer and rabbits, and is drought tolerant. It may flower occasionally with lavender spikes 12-18 inches tall.

Conclusion

Choosing to use containers in your winter garden is a good option. Lots of plants can live for years in a container and can be transplanted when needed. They offer better drainage and you provide the nutrients and water. Container plants can also help reduce the amount of time and money spent and can provide year round interest.

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