As the days shorten and the temperature drops a little we probably spend a little less time out in the garden and wet soil conditions can limit what we do regarding digging or mowing lawns or other gardening pursuits but thankfully we can still be creative and continue working with plants in containers - be that large pots, window boxes or even hanging baskets. Because plants don’t grow as much in the Winter there tends to be very little in the way of maintenance or looking after Winter containers and you’re as well to pack in plenty of plants into the pots as, compared to our Summer planting, they’re not going to increase in size that much over the Winter months.
Glazed Pots will stand up better to cold temperatures compared to terracotta pots - wooden planters, fibreclay and plastic are all fine for planting up this time of year. No harm to raise your pots off the ground a little using pot feet - this helps excess water to escape a bit easier and protects the pots from hard frost.
People are sometimes surprised at the amount of colour available to brighten up the dark Winter days - between bright berries, colourful foliage, evergreen shrubs and Winter flowering plants there’s a wide selection to do up pots and containers that will look very effective and will require no minding.
I’ve put together a list of planting ideas for containers that can be adapted for most circumstances or locations. The first idea is a lovely mix of bright foliage shrubs, grasses and trailing ivy - The standout shrub in this container that adds the most colour and contrast is a shrub called Leucothoe Firestar - this is a bright compact shrub with beautiful colorful leaves that really stand out in Winter, the leaves start off green and gold and as Winter approaches they develop a strong red burgundy colour. In a pot they’ll stay small and are happy to grow in partially shaded areas. The next shrub in this planting mix is Skimmia Rubella - a super shrub for Winter containers - nice dark green foliage with maroon red flower buds that hold all Winter and open up to white scented flowers in Spring, happy in shaded areas if needed. For contrasting foliage we’ve added some variegated Carex - a nice low growing grass - very easy to grow and needs very little care and also some Senecio - a dusty silver grey foliage plant that acts as a great foil to show off other colours and to finish off a nice variegated Trailing Ivy - adds some depth to the overall arrangement and very Winter hardy - so 5 or 6 plants in total - planted closely to fill the pot - we’ve used Ericaceous Compost to suit the Skimmia and Leucothoe - some stones in the bottom of the pot to ensure good drainage - this is a rich stylish arrangement - perfect for the front door or a patio area - or if you’re feeling generous a beautiful gift for any occasion.
The second planting arrangement is suitable for any medium to large pot - a blue pot would work well as the blue compliments the planting scheme which is made up of some bright variegated foliage, some soft silver plants and a couple of strong pops of colour. Euonymus Harlequin is the main stand out plant- it’s an evergreen shrub with variegated leaves with a low growing spreading habit - the leaves are a creamy white colour on the tips with slightly green leaves lower down - a great shrub for containers and very easy to grow. Next to this we have a plant called Senecio Angels Wings - beautiful large silver grey leaves with a lovely soft feel - this really stands out and acts as a great contrast against the rest of the plants in the arrangement - again an easy to grow plant that’s drought tolerant and great in containers or beds - for strong colour a pink Cyclamen and a pink heather combine nicely and we added in one extra silver plant a small Senecio that has contrasting shaped foliage to the Angel Wings and makes a great combination - a blue colour pot really suits this arrangement - and like the previous one, very little to do in the way of maintenance - don’t let them dry out but once a month or every 6 weeks might be all that’s required for watering. You can plant some low growing, scented bulbs in the pots as you are doing them up for extra Spring colour and fragrance. A few other shrubs to consider for pots would include some Boxwood - either cones or ball shaped - nice with a few battery operated lights wrapped round for Christmas or some Cordylines or Phormiums - great for coastal or windswept areas or a nice Camellia - lots of varieties showing strong buds at this time of year and flowers to come in late Winter early Spring. Having a beautiful planted arrangement at your front door can not only set off and enhance the look of your home but also give you a bit of a lift as you come in and out especially on Wintery days
A few jobs for the week ahead;
- Keep those garden Song Birds in mind - put out a good mix of different bird feed to attract a diverse range of birds - they’ll certainly appreciate it in this cold weather.
- If you plan to plant some bare root hedging now would be a good time to prepare the ground - getting rid of any weeds and grass and digging in some compost and manure to improve the soil.
- Plant Garlic, Winter Onion sets and Shallots for an early harvest next year - keep an eye on weeds and keep them under control around the vegetable beds before they become established.
- Plant up your Spring flowering bulbs November is a traditional month for planting Tulips but all bulbs - Snowdrops, Daffs, Tulips, Bluebells, Alliums and lots more varieties all great to plant now - these can give you colour from February right through to July - 6 months of colour from bulbs alone.