Winter Container Gardening

Winter Container Gardening: Learn the best ways for container gardening winter plants. This form of winter gardening can add months of pleasure while most gardeners are left counting down the days till Spring.

Winter Gardening

Try to start your winter garden in the early Fall. This will give the plants roots' time to adapt and mature before the extreme cold hits. They'll need lots of sun when first planted. However, once established, the plant will require less sun....which we all know winter-time offers little.

Looking for Winter Sowing Tips?? Go Here!

One of the very first things you need to do is know your hardiness zone. If you're not 100% sure on what yours is, go here to check.

Once you know your planting zone, the easiest step, is to add 2 colder zones to that number. For example, if I live in Zone 5, I'm now looking for plants suited for Zone 3. These plants will be adaptive to colder temperatures, and should work well. Do keep in mind, that many factors still play into this strategy and the success of the plant.

For example: How long has the plant been potted before cold temperatures hit, how healthy is the plant to begin with, etc.

Containers For Winter Container Gardening

Choosing suitable containersis the next step. Unfortunately you can't just put out any container made of any material. Why? Many porous materials used to make containers will hold moisture. When freezing temperatures occur, the moisture inside the pores will freeze. When a freezing/thawing action occurs, the planter will most likely crack and be ofno good.

Also, be mindful of container size. For instance, if you have plants that will grow deep roots, make sure you have a pot that is deep enough to accommodate that growth. On the safe side, most containers should be at least 12 inches in diameter. For more help on choosing containers, go here.

Good Choices:

Thick Plastic
Half Barrels
Wooden Containers
Milk Jugs

Bad Choices:

Thin Plastic
Terra Cotta
Ceramic Containers

*As with any container, please ensure proper drainage holes are present.

Soil and Fertilizer

Any type of regular potting soil will be fine for the Winter. No special blend is needed.

As for fertilizing: If the potting soil is new, most mixes (for example: Miracle Grow Potting Mix), will have fertilizer already mixed into the soil. Miracle Grow will provide approximately 3 months worth ofnutrients. In this case, no fertilizing will be needed. Other brands may be different.... check the labeling!!!

If you are re-using potting soil from a previous planting, I recommend adding a Bulb Fertilizer. This will be a slow release formula that should last until Spring. Again, starting in early fall is best.

Either way, no fertilizer should be added to the pot 6-8 weeks before the first frost. We don't want any new growth occurring since that new growth will be damaged very easily when cold weather hits.

Winter Sowing

Learn all about this amazing form of winter gardening.

Choosing Plants

We'll need to choose plants that are cold hardy. Ones that can survive when the temperature goes below freezing. That may sound difficult, but believe it or not, there are many varieties to choose from. Here are a few examples of what one might use for winter container gardening.

Winter Container Gardening Tip:

As the temperature of winter drops, the color of Flowering Cabbage and Flowering Kale will intensify !!
Freezing temperatures, however, will kill the produce.

Also check out these great ideas for Winter Container Gardening:

  • Panolas
  • Annual Grasses
  • New Zealand Flax
  • Variegated Yucca
  • Dwarf Deciduous Hollies
  • Trailing Ivy

Winter Container Gardening Tips:

Use evergreens to enhance your winter garden. Pine cones, left-over Christmas decorations (such as spruce and red-twig dogwoods) can be used as accents within a container garden design. The soil in pots will freeze/thaw quicker in the winter-time since there is no soil around the pot acting as insulation.


Water your containers throughout the Winter only when the soil is dry. However, especially when strong cold spells are in the forecast, make sure the containers have enough water!!

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