15 Tips for Great Winter Pots
To get the hottest ideas for cool-weather containers, we asked the experts at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden in Columbia, South Carolina.
Rely on foliage for texture and color. While pansies, cabbage, and kale are cool-weather favorites, they may not always deliver the wow you were hoping for when presented alone.
Excellent evergreen choices for winter include yucca, ‘Dorothy Wyckoff’ Japanese andromeda, cleyera, liriope, false cypress, and windmill palm.
Don’t be shy about adding shrubs that are leafless in winter. The buds of a deciduous azalea, such as ‘Varnadoe’s Pink’ Piedmont azalea (Rhododendron canescens ‘Varnadoe’s Pink’) can be quite stunning when viewed up close.
Remember the veggies. ‘Redbor’ kale looks amazing paired with ‘Golden Mop’ false cypress and ‘Color Guard’ Adam’s needle.
Buy less, buy big, and buy quality. Regardless of your style, a plain rolled-rimmed terra-cotta pot (at least 20 inches in diameter) is always a good investment. Set it on pot feet or bricks to enable draining and prevent cracking.
Fill voids with fragrant herbs such as purple sage. They’re not only pretty but edible too.
Add interest to containers with pots of forced bulbs. At Riverbanks, greenhouse-grown tulips tucked into containers offer two weeks of show, as opposed to three days from bulbs planted in the ground.
Water as needed. You’ll have to stick your finger in the soil to decide. It should feel moist but not wet. Drip-irrigation systems are convenient but don’t always deliver the right amount of moisture, which is why Riverbanks waters all containers by hand. Don’t let plants dry out in winter, because wind + freezing temps + drought = bye-bye.