Cold-Weather Plantings

With the correct pots, cold-tolerant plants, beautiful twigs, and evergreen boughs, you can put together beautiful containers that will last till the weather warms and even beyond. Here's how, courtesy of This Old House landscape specialist Roger Cook.

Water expands about 9 percent as it looks to ice, so even a one-time freeze might crack containers crafted from terra-cotta or other fragile, moisture-absorbing materials. Metal, plastic, and fiberglass are safe options. A number of ceramic containers can stand up to a freeze, if they've been fired at high temperature levels. And while standard concrete might break, concrete blended with polymers stands much better. Wood planters weather quite well, too.

Roger lines wire flowerpot with sheet moss, which includes color while keeping back soil. Eco-friendly coir mats, made from coconut husks, do the job equally well. Here, sheet moss forms a base for the brilliant red berries and shiny leaves of wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens). Taller variegated boxwood (1), mini juniper (Juniperus communis 'Compressa') (2), and redtwig dogwood branches (Cornus sericea) (3) line the back of the wire flowerpot.
Cold-friendly container combinations
A metal container triggers rosettes of ornamental kale (1), variegated boxwood (Buxus sempervirens 'Variegata') (2), and yellow-green dwarf hinoki cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Nana Aurea') (3). Feathery sawara incorrect cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Boulevard') (4) and shiny-leaved common boxwood (Buxus sempervirens 'Graham Blandy') (5) serve as the backdrop. Home Improvement Much of these plants likewise team up well with blue holly (Ilex x meserveae 'Blue Maid') (6).
More cold-friendly container combinations
Blue Alberta spruce (Picea glauca 'Sanders Blue') (1) towers over sawara incorrect cypress (2), Japanese rush (Acorus gramineus 'Ogon') (3), and sneaking juniper (Juniperus horizontalis 'Bar Harbor') (4) in pots flanking a door.
Plant with the coming seasons in mind
If you're starting a container cultivating from the ground up, Roger advises covering drain holes with a piece of a damaged terra-cotta pot, then bring in a little gravel and some yard material to guarantee excellent drain before you fill in with potting soil. In milder environments or where the plants will be left in pots year-round, mix in some aged compost prior to you plant, then leading with mulch to keep soil moist.

Due to the fact that Roger generally changes wintertime displays with vibrant annuals in the spring, he does not add any soil changes in the fall or even stress about loosening up the soil more than needed to fit in the roots. He also doesn't trouble to loosen twisted root balls due to the fact that the plants will not do any growing over the winter season.
Utilize an antidesiccant
To keep plant seeming fresh all season even if the roots are frozen or you're using cut branches, spray foliage with an antidesiccant. Roger likes one made from evergreen resin. Since the film slowly weathers away, he generally reapplies it once throughout the winter. In milder climates, antidesiccant sprays are just required for cut branches.
Monitor the weather condition and water as required.
As long as daytime temperature levels stay above freezing, poke a finger down into the soil sometimes and water as needed. When your finger strikes hard, frozen soil, relax.
Picking the plants
Small conifers, or needled evergreens, work particularly well in planters. You can find ones that form balls, cones, and columns, along with ranges that route-- a specifically useful routine in making up a container. The needles offer variety, too, from soft-textured cypresses
Mini conifers
Roger purchase mini conifers, that are available in balls (1), cones (2), and columns (3) that are sized right for containers.
Rugged junipers
Roger likewise plants rugged junipers (circled around), in a variety of greens as well as silvers, golds, and reds. Mini conifers grow less than 1 inch a year and peak at about 1 foot; dwarf conifers grow 1 to 6 inches a year, ending up 1 to 6 feet high. Roger utilizes spruces and false cypresses that prosper in cold environments like that of his native New England.
Other evergreens
Roger likes to blend evergreens with variegated foliage into his containers, too. Among his favorites are Euonymus japonicus 'Golden Maiden', which has shiny green leaves splashed with yellow.
Dwarf hinoki cypress
Roger likewise likes dwarf hinoki cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa) 'Golden Sprite', with yellow ideas on green foliage.
Variegated boxwood
Variegated boxwood (Buxus sempervirens 'Variegata') leaves are outlined in white.
All-green evergreens
For all-green evergreens, great options include Korean boxwood (circled around), lots of hollies, and yews.
Wintergreen
Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) includes the intense note of red berries. Roger typically selects plants in the fall with an eye to what he wishes to contribute to his perennial beds in the spring, when he readies the planters for summertime annuals. Transplanting from containers into the garden is a thrifty, time-efficient method to develop and broaden a landscape.
Hardy bloomers
Ornamental kale, a flowerlike broccoli relative that has frilly leaves splashed with numerous combinations of pink, cream, and green, does well nearly all over through early winter, though below-zero temperatures will do it in. In milder environments, there are a number of winter-flowering plants to select from, consisting of pansies, Iceland poppies, hellebores, and primroses, also referred to as Christmas roses. Ask your local nursery for recommendations.
Twigs and branches
To add a few exclamation indicate containers, embed branches such as curly pussy willow (Salix caprea 'Kilmarnock'); ones with vibrant bark, such as redtwig dogwood (Cornus sericea); types with red fruit, such as American winterberry (Ilex verticillata).

Twigs and branches
Good are cuttings of small-leaved Euonymus japonicus 'Microphyllus Butterscotch' (1) or soft-needled white pine (2).

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