Winter Container Gardens

Brighten the Dark Days of Winter

You don’t have to settle for the drab grays and browns of the winter months — create a cool container garden and you’ll have a spot of color to carry you through ’til spring!

Please remember that the majority of plants placed in containers should be considered temporary guests.* Although a shrub or perennial may be hardy in our zone when placed in the ground, planting in a container exposes the roots to much colder temperatures (and generally more stressful conditions year-round). For best over-wintering, we recommend insulating the INSIDE of your containers with several layers of large bubble wrap. More soil volume also means more protection, so when it comes to winter planters, bigger is better. Leave room for a layer of mulch at the top of the container. Try to locate container gardens away from drying winter winds. And if it snows, don’t worry—the snow acts as further insulation!

Below is a list of recommended plants for a beautiful winter container garden… 


Pansies, violas, ornamental cabbage and kale

Perennial Foliage

Acanthus (bear’s breeches)
Acorus (sweet flag)
Asarum (ginger)
Bergenia (pigsqueak)
Carex (sedge)
Chrysogonum (green and gold)
Euphorbia (wood spurge)
Ferns: autumn, Christmas, holly, tassel
Galium (sweet woodruff)
Helleborus (Lenten rose) winter flowers, too!!!
Iberis (candytuft)
Phlox, woodland and creeping
Rohdea japonica (sacred lily)
Santolina (lavender cotton)
Sedum (stonecrop)
Sempervivum (hens and chicks)
Teucrium (germander)
Veronica pectinata (blue wooly speedwell)
Viola labradorica (Labrador violet)

Evergreen Shrubs

Buxus (boxwood)
Chamaecyparis obtusa (Hinoki Falsecypress)
Chamaecyparis pisifera (Sawara or Japanese Falsecypress) “Boulevard”, “Gold Mop”
Cotoneaster salicifolius (willowleaf contoneaster) “Scarlet Leader”
Erica carnea (spring, winter, or snow heath)
Euonymous fortunei (wintercreeper)
Euonymous japonicus (Japanese euonymous)
Gaultheria procumbens (creeping wintergreen)
Ilex aquifolium (English holly)
Ilex x attenuata “Fosteri” (Foster’s holly)
Ilex crenata (Japanese holly) “Skypencil”, “Steeds”
Ilex glabra (Inkberry holly)
Ilex x meserveae (Meserve hybrids: “Blue Girl,” Blue Princess”, China Girl)
Juniperus chinensis (Chinese juniper) “Torulosa” (Hollywood juniper)
Juniperus conferta (Shore juniper) “Blue Pacific”
Juniperus horizontalis (Creeping juniper) “Blue Rug”, “Bar Harbor”
Juniperus procumbens “Nana” (dwarf Japgarden juniper)
Juniperus scopulorum (Rocky Mountain juniper) “Skyrocket”
Juniperus squamata “Blue Star”
Juniperus virginiana (Eastern Redcedar) “Grey Owl”
Leucothoe fontanesiana (fetterbush)
Mahonia aquifolium; bealei (Oregon grapeholly; Leatherleaf mahonia)
Microbiota decussate (Russian arborvitae)
Osmanthus heterophyllus (False holly) “Goshiki”
Picea abies “Nidiformis” (Bird’s nest spruce)
Picea glauca “Conica” (Dwarf Alberta spruce)
Picea pungens (Colorado spruce)
Pieris japonica (Japanese pieris)
Pinus mugo (mugo pine)
Rhododendron “Purple Gem”
Sarcoccoca (sweetbox)
Thuja occidentalis (Eastern arborvitae) “Rheingold”, “Emerald”
Thuja plicata “Whipcord” (whipcord arborvitae)

Evergreen Groundcovers

Ajuga (bugleweed)
Hedera helix (English ivy)
Liriope (monkeygrass)
Ophiopogon (mondo grass)
Pachysandra procumbens; terminalis (Allegheny spurge; Japanese spurge)
Rubus pentalobus (creeping raspberry)
Vinca minor (periwinkle)

Deciduous Shrubs

Cornus sanguinea (bloodtwig dogwood) (red stems)
Cornus sericea (redosier dogwood) (red stems)
Corylus contorta (contorted filbert, Harry Lauder’s walking stick) (curly stems)
Cytisus scoparius (Scotch broom) (green stems)
Ilex verticillata (Winterberry) (red berries)

Evergreen Herbs

Salad burnet
Winter savory

*Please note that due to the environmental stress placed on shrubs and trees planted in containers, our shrub and tree guarantee does not apply.