Welcoming winter pots
Amateur Gardening|October 23, 2021
Plant up containers now to create a cheering show, using flowers, foliage and scent, at the front door throughout winter, says Hazel Sillver
Hazel Sillver

IN the bleak depths of winter, a colourful show of pot plants brightens the spirits. Whether it’s troughs of dwarf irises around the front door or large pots of bright-red dogwood on the patio, containers of winter plants inject much-needed colour – and they can be planted now.

Flowers are usually the stars of the show and many provide vital nectar for winter-foraging wildlife. Some – such as the buff-tailed bumblebee – are increasingly seen during the colder months, as a result of climate change.

Even butterflies (including the red admiral) can sometimes be spotted hunting for food in the winter sun. They adore heathers, such as ‘Katia’ (white) and ‘Furzey’ (pink), and will feed on hellebores, aconites, and snowdrops, all of which can be grown in small pots. Pollinators will also take nectar from the beautifully scented yellow flowers of mahonia – a large shrub that can be enjoyed in a big container.

Foliage plants

Other winter-flowering shrubs for a large pot include Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ and Lonicera fragrantissima, which fill the air with a heady scent. Underplant them with low-growing flowers, such as violas, and show the flowers off with a variety of foliage.

Foliage plants provide color, structure or aroma, and some – such as the dwarf pine Pinus mugo ‘Winter Gold’ and the dwarf juniperJuniperus squamata ‘Blue Star’ – produce all three. The claret elephant’s ears Bergenia ‘Bressingham Ruby’ complements the blue grass Festuca glauca Intense Blue (‘Casblue’) and the amber leaves of Libertia ixioides ‘Goldfinger’.

Group containers together

Use frost-proof pots to prevent cracking or opt for wooden containers that help to keep plants warm. Grouping containers together will also help to raise the temperature by creating a microclimate. Ensure the containers have drainage holes to prevent winter damp rotting the plants and further enhance drainage by mixing compost with grit.

If planting up containers to give as Christmas gifts, choose a festive scarlet pot or opt for festive plants, such as the holly Ilex aquifolium ‘Golden van Tol’, which has golden and green leaves and red berries. In the barren, grey days of winter, such colourful plants seem like miracles and warm our hearts.

How to plant

  • Use a pot with good drainage. If there is one large hole in the base, add pieces of broken pot to the bottom to prevent the compost washing out.

  • Use a multi-purpose organic compost or, if the plants are going to stay in the container for a long time, opt for John Innes No3.

  • Plants can be placed closer together than in a summer container, as they grow slowly in the cold. There is also less need for watering in winter.

9 winter plants for pots

For foliage

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM AMATEUR GARDENINGView All

Quick-growing annuals to sow now

There is still time in late spring to sow quick-growing hardy and half-hardy annuals straight to the soil, says Anne Swithinbank, as she describes the best ones to grow

7 mins read
Amateur Gardening
May 07, 2022

Keeping it sweet

Bob explains why now is the best time to sow sweetcorn

2 mins read
Amateur Gardening
May 07, 2022

Create a wildlife patch

Give a little space to nature’s heroes, says Ruth

2 mins read
Amateur Gardening
May 07, 2022

Autumn daisies

Sneezeweeds are tough perennials, and now is the time to plant them to attract wildlife and fill borders with warm, fiery colour in late summer and autumn, says Hazel Sillver

8 mins read
Amateur Gardening
May 07, 2022

Say hello to hostas

After disappointments, Ruth gives hostas another chance

2 mins read
Amateur Gardening
May 07, 2022

Bring me sunshine!

Sow the taste of citrus with cosmos ‘Polidor’, says Ruth

2 mins read
Amateur Gardening
May 07, 2022

Growing citrus plants

Whether you grow luscious lemons or ornate oranges, Steve and Val Bradley explain how to keep your potted citrus plants in tip-top condition throughout the year

3 mins read
Amateur Gardening
May 07, 2022

Sparring partners

Val looks at the pros and cons of gardening partnerships

3 mins read
Amateur Gardening
May 07, 2022

Start thinking about cuttings

Propagation is so easy and satisfying, says Ruth

4 mins read
Amateur Gardening
May 07, 2022

This week... lilacs

With their beautiful scented flowers, lilacs are an easy-to-grow garden classic

5 mins read
Amateur Gardening
May 07, 2022
RELATED STORIES

FIVE PROBLEMS WITH GOUACHE (AND HOW TO SOLVE THEM)

James Gurney tackles challenges specific to the medium of gouache

3 mins read
International Artist
April - May 2022

HOW TO MAKE GRADIENTS

James Gurney demonstrates how to get your colors to change gradually throughout your picture

5 mins read
International Artist
December 2021 - January 2022

NEW YACHTS

RUPERT HOLMES REPORTS ON INNOVATIVE CRUISERS AND THE LATEST FOILERS

7 mins read
Yachting World
November 2021

Familiar things

MASTER PAINTERS OF THE WORLD

3 mins read
International Artist
August - September 2021

Creating Emphasis

Working from dark to light colors, Pamela Hamilton’s pastel paintings feature the smallest and brightest marks at the focal point

6 mins read
International Artist
August - September 2021

Off the Board

Animals come to life in intricate detail through the boldness and versatility of Melissa Helene’s scratchboard art

4 mins read
International Artist
August - September 2021

Biophilia

MASTER PAINTERS OF THE WORLD

3 mins read
International Artist
August - September 2021

Klara Landrat & Her Journey with Endometriosis

Klara Landrat is an American-Israeli actress of Polish origin, producer, a writer known for her talent worldwide. She is starring in the Irish TV series – “Gods & Fighting Men” due for release in 2021.

6 mins read
Women Fitness
March 2021

Using T-Track

T-track is a versatile product that has many great uses around the shop.

3 mins read
Popular Woodworking
February 2021

Knitting a shrug-yoke top-down seamless tee shirt – part 1

Maybe you’ve never heard of a shrugyoke sweater construction. I’m not sure I’ve heard the name before, but I haven’t seen this type of design before either, so to me this is something new.

2 mins read
KNITmuch
Issue 8