Winter Container Gardening Basics

Pink Chrysanthemum flowers in the garden.

Surprisingly, there are great options for fall and winter container gardening—lovely types of flowers, evergreens, and shrubs to add color and form to your outdoor rooms.

Though terra cotta flower pots and other fragile materials aren’t great choices for cold weather planting, cement, wood, and metal outdoor planters can withstand freezing temperatures and provide you with four-season color.

Here are the Top 4 Issues to keep in mind:

The Basics:

  • Insulate your flower pots (use Styrofoam peanuts, or bubble wrap)
  • Put them where there will be the least amount of temperature variation (see more about this here—very important to avoid placing flower and plant pots directly on cement, for instance).
  • Group winter flowers and plants together (think crowds of people at a football game—the closer together, the more heat and protection for all).
  • Try to use types of flowers and plants (evergreens are great choices as is ornamental grass) hardy to two zones colder than the one you live in.

Winter Container Gardening Protection Tips:

  • Your flowers and plants need time to acclimate to temperatures dropping. This is especially true in small space gardening—give your pansies and other types of flowers and plants a head start by getting them into the soil when it’s still warm—early fall is best.
  • This may surprise you. The tops of plants may not your greatest concern in freezing temperatures. It’s the roots in that most susceptible to damage. Since water creates heat as it freezes, try to water before freezing temps arrive. Watering prior to the warmest part of the day is also a great idea.
  • Garden planters grouped against a wall or other structure will aid in protecting your container plantings from harsh winds (it also contributes to the “huddling together” heat retention).
  • Using larger planters than in the growing season will also help protect the roots. More area means more protection against freeze damage.

We have other winter garden advice on this site. Check out our winter garden survive and thrive guide.

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