Winter Container Garden Ideas: How to Keep Gardening in the Winter

The weather might be turning colder, but there are still ways to keep growing in your garden. Container gardens are a great way to liven up your outside space during the winter months when many plants are dormant. By choosing the right plants, you can create a beautiful and vibrant display that will last throughout the season. Here are some winter container garden ideas to get you started.


Why Make a Winter Container Garden?

Creating a container garden can be the perfect way to experiment with different plants and flowers during the colder months. You might notice that rest of your garden is a little dreary, while many shrubs and perennial plants lie dormant in the ground. But that doesn’t mean you’ll want to dig it all up and start again.

A winter container garden allows you to fill the gaps and bring some fresh life and colour into your garden, without interrupting the more permanent planting schemes you have in place.

One of the best things about container gardens is that they can be moved around easily. This means that you can put them in a sunny spot during the day and then bring them inside at night to protect them from the cold.

Another advantage of container gardens is that they allow you to grow a greater range of plants. You might be able to try plants that wouldn’t survive in the bare soil over winter. This is because the roots are protected from the cold by being in a pot.


What Kind of Pots and Containers Can I Use Outside in the Winter?

When it comes to choosing pots and containers for your winter garden, there are a few things you need to consider. Firstly, you need to make sure that the pots and containers are big enough for the plants you want to grow. This is because, as the roots grow, they will need more space.

You also need to make sure that the pots have drainage holes in the bottom. If not, the roots will become waterlogged – especially in cold, damp weather – and this could kill the plant.

It’s also a good idea to choose pots and containers that are made from robust materials that will insulate the roots from the cold. This includes materials like wood, stone and concrete.

Terracotta, clay and ceramic pots also offer good insulation but can be prone to cracking in freezing temperatures, as frozen water expands. If you’re shopping for new containers, look out for those that are described as being frost proof.

If you can’t find any pots or containers made from these materials, you can also wrap your existing pots in bubble wrap or another kind of insulation to help protect the roots.


What Are the Best Flowers for a Winter Container Garden?

While bright colours can be hard to find during the winter, you’ll be pleased to know that there are still some flowers to be enjoyed. Here are some suggestions to warm your soul on those cold winter days…

Pansies

One of the most popular choices for winter container gardens. They are available in a wide range of colours, they flower for a long time and they are relatively easy to care for.

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Violas

Similar to pansies but tend to have smaller flowers. They are also available in a wide range of colours and will flower throughout the winter months.

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Cyclamen

Another popular choice for winter container gardens. They have striking flowers that come in a range of colours, including white, pink, red and purple.

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Hellebores

Perfect for adding some greenery to your winter container garden. They have large, leathery leaves and their flowers come in a variety of colours, including white, pink and yellow.

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Snowdrops

One of the first flowers to bloom in very early spring, so they are a welcome addition to your winter garden.

Winter-Flowering Clematis

You might be familiar with Clematis – these popular climbing plants are well-loved for their flowers in the summer. What you might not know is that there are several winter-flowering varieties, such as Clematis Cirrhosa.

For more flower garden ideas, you might like to check out this post about How to Design a Flower Garden.


Can You Grow Vegetables in a Winter Container Garden?

If you’re into growing your own, then the winter needn’t be off limits. Here are some vegetables that you could try in a winter container garden.

Lettuces

A popular choice for winter container gardens. They are quick to grow and can be harvested throughout the winter months.

Spinach

Another leafy green that does well in winter container gardens. It’s quick to grow and can potentially be harvested from autumn right through the winter.

Brussel Sprouts

Sprouts are a great option and are said to taste the best after a little frosting. Imagine hoe-gown sprouts with your Christmas dinner this year! They take a little longer to mature than some other vegetables, but they will keep in the ground through the winter months.

Carrots

These can be grown in a winter container garden and, although you won’t get a harvest until the early spring, it’s nice to know that you’ll get a head start next year.

Pak Choi

A very useful oriental, leafy vegetable. It’s quick to grow and its young leaves can be used in salads, or leave it to mature and use the stems in stir-fries.


Adding Some Greenery and Foliage in a Winter Container Garden

Besides flowers and vegetables, you might wish to add some greenery and form to your winter container garden. Various evergreen options will help to keep some interest throughout the winter. Besides just adding greenery, you might also look for interesting shapes and textures. Here are some plant ideas that might work well in a winter container garden:

Conifers

These are a good choice for adding some greenery to your winter garden. They come in a range of shapes and sizes, so you should be able to find one that will fit into your space.

Holly

This festive plant is perfect for adding some greenery to your winter garden. The dark green leaves are contrasted with the cheerful, bright red berries.

Ivy

This is another good choice for adding some greenery to your winter garden. It is a fast-growing plant that can be left to trail over the edge of a pot or container.

Boxwood

A slow-growing plant that is perfect for creating low-maintenance hedges in a winter container garden.

Carex

A type of grass that is perfect for adding some greenery to your winter garden. It is available in a range of colours, including green, yellow and brown.


Tips to Keep Your Winter Container Garden Thriving

Now that you have some ideas for what to grow in your winter container garden, here are some tips to help you keep it healthy and looking good.

Choose the Right Location

When choosing a location for your winter container garden, it’s important to think about the amount of sunlight that the area gets. A sheltered, sunny spot is usually best. Some plants, such as lettuces, spinach and Pak Choi, will need around six hours of sunlight a day, whereas others, such as cyclamen and hellebores, will be fine with partial shade.

Protect Your Plants from the Cold

If you live in an area that gets particularly cold in the winter, you might need to take some measures to protect your plants during the worst cold snaps. One option is to move your pots and containers indoors. Another option is to use gardeners’ fleece or bubble wrap to insulate your plants.

Water Carefully

One of the main problems that people face with their winter container gardens is overwatering. Plant growth is generally much reduced in the winter months and lower temperatures mean that excess water won’t evaporate as it does in the summer. It’s important to check the soil before watering to make sure that it is dry. A good rule of thumb is to water once a week, but this will vary depending on the weather and the type of plants that you are growing.

Fertilise sparingly

Just as your plants won’t be growing as quickly in the winter as they do in the spring and summer, they also won’t need as much fertiliser. It’s important to use a gentle, organic fertiliser so that you don’t damage the roots of your plants. A good rule of thumb is to fertilise once a month.

Pest and Disease Control

In the winter, there are fewer pests and diseases around than there are in the summer. However, it’s still important to be on the lookout for problems. Check your plants regularly for signs of pests and disease, such as aphids, slugs and whitefly. If you spot anything, you can treat the problem with an organic pest control product.


How to Arrange the Plants in Your Winter Containers

When it comes to arranging the plants in your winter containers, there are no hard and fast rules. However, there are a few things to bear in mind that will help you create a harmonious display.

Consider the Height of Your Plants

When choosing plants for your winter container garden, it’s important to think about the height of each plant. This will help you to create a balanced display. For example, if you have a tall plant in the centre of your pot, you might want to choose lower-growing plants to go around the edge.

Think about Colours

When choosing plants for your winter container garden, think about the colours that you want to include. Mix complementary colours together in a certain space or plant in large blocks of colour for a more dramatic effect.

Remember that the flowers may not last the whole winter, so consider combining flowers with evergreen plants or grasses that will maintain some interest after the blooms have gone.

Don’t forget Texture

Texture is another important consideration when choosing plants for your winter container garden. Mixing plants with different textures will add interest to your display. For example, you could team spiky plants, such as Holly or tall grasses to create interesting shapes.

Play around with different combinations of plants until you find a combination that you like. And don’t forget to have fun!


Final Thoughts

Creating a winter container garden is a great way to add some life to your garden during the dark months. Fill those dreary corners where other plants are dormant. Enjoy flowers and greenery or even grow some winter veggies!

Don’t forget to use solid containers and protect your plants from the cold with fleece or bubble wrap. Try to make the most of the sunny spots in the garden and during very cold snaps, consider moving vulnerable plants indoors. By choosing the right plants and taking care of them well, you can create a beautiful display that will last throughout the winter.

What’s growing in your winter garden? Do you have a favourite winter flower? Maybe you have some suggestions for us to try? Let us know in the comments!

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