10 Plants for Creating Stunning Winter Pots and Containers

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As the days start to cool and the nights draw in, our time in the garden naturally begins to dwindle. Yet, isn’t it just lovely to catch a glimpse of a vibrant autumn or winter hue against the chill?

Imagine having a cheery container of colour by your front door, or a pot full of winter bloomers to view from your kitchen window. We’ve curated a list of plants just perfect for brightening up those winter days with a stunning display in your pots and containers.

Plants perfect for winter pots:

  1. Heuchera
  2. Mini Cyclamen
  3. Festuca Glauca
  4. Hellebores
  5. Carex Testacea
  6. Winter Heather
  7. Hebe
  8. Winter Pansies
  9. Cornus
  10. Snowdrops

Top Tip

Regularly check your winter pots’ moisture levels to prevent overwatering or underwatering in cold weather.

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1. Heuchera

Heucheras are superb for their stunning, deep foliage, perfect for adding a contrast to the other winter plants in your pot or container. They are remarkably low maintenance, happy in partial shade, and aren’t too fussy about their water — just ensure your pot has good drainage and give them a little water in dry spells.

2. Cyclamen

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The frost-hardy mini cyclamen adds a touch of cheer to your winter container display, available in whites, reds, and pinks. These compact plants can flower from late summer right until mid-spring, then can be moved to a shaded area in the garden where they will bloom year after year.

3. Festuca Glauca

Festuca Glauca, or blue fescue, has a silvery blue hue, providing a striking contrast in your winter display and making other colourful plants truly stand out. With its easy upkeep, it’s a great addition to any winter container, and can be moved to your garden in spring.

Interested in other ornamental grasses? Check out our related blog post here.

4. Helebores

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Also known as Christmas Roses, hellebores have dainty nodding flowers that add a lovely touch to your winter garden. Their flowering period typically spans from early winter right into spring, and they’re low maintenance too.

5. Carex Testacea

Also known as Prairie Fire, this ornamental grass has arching foliage that turns a warm bronze in autumn and winter. Plant it in your winter container to add a bit of life, then move it to a sunny spot in the garden come spring.

Again, if you’re curious about other ornamental grasses, check out our related blog post here.

6. Winter Heather

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Winter heathers or winter heath (erica carnea) bloom in a variety of vibrant colours. They can start flowering as early as November, peaking between January and March. Easy to maintain, they thrive in sun or partial shade and can be trimmed after flowering to retain their compact shape.

7. Hebe

Hebes are fantastic low maintenance plants for winter pots, with their neat compact evergreen foliage. They perform best in a sunny spot with good, free-draining soil. Hebes are available in a range of sizes, but the smaller varieties are particularly suitable for winter pots.

8. Winter Pansies

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A classic, winter flowering pansies are essential for adding some much-needed colour to your pots and containers at this time of year. Plant them as soon as you spot them in garden centres around September or October, and you’ll find they’re hardy against frosts and snow. With proper care, they’ll come back year after year.

9. Cornus

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Cornus, also known as dogwood, are deciduous shrubs with bright red or orange stems. They can add height and structure to your winter container display, and will shine in the low winter sun. Come spring, they can be transferred to your garden for year-round interest.

10. Snowdrops

snowdrops Spring Bulbs

Snowdrops are often the first bulbs to flower in the UK, signalling that spring is on its way. Adding snowdrop bulbs to your winter container can provide a fresh breath of life come the new year. Remember to plant your bulbs 4-5 inches deep, with the pointy end facing upwards.

For a detailed guide on planting and caring for snowdrops, see our related blog post here.

Follow the Thriller, Filler, Spiller Rule for Winter Pots

The “Thriller, Filler, Spiller” approach is a brilliant method for designing vibrant and appealing pot and container arrangements. It’s essentially the golden rule for creating visually captivating plant displays. Here’s how it breaks down:

Thriller plants are your stars of the show. These plants catch your eye due to their unique shape, towering height, or stunning blooms. Often placed at the back or in the centre of the container, thriller plants bring a dynamic element to your arrangement. In a winter pot, for instance, the brightly stemmed Cornus or strikingly flowered Hellebores could act as your thrillers.

Filler plants are the supporting actors in your arrangement, providing volume and body to your pot. Typically, these are medium-height plants with dense or bushy growth. For a winter arrangement, consider using the deep-coloured Heuchera or the vibrantly coloured winter heathers as your fillers.

Spiller plants are those that tumble or trail over the edges of your container, adding an element of softness and a cascading effect. Ivy is a classic choice for a spiller, with its evergreen foliage providing a lush, verdant draping effect that’s particularly eye-catching in the colder months. Another good winter spiller could be the frost-hardy mini cyclamen, with its low-growing habit and joyful flowers.

By following the thriller, filler, and spiller approach, you can create balanced and stunning container gardens that look great in any season.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What can I plant in pots for winter flowering?

There are several winter flowering plants you can consider for your pots. Some excellent choices include Cyclamen, Hellebores, and Winter Pansies, all of which offer a splash of colour during the cooler months. Additionally, Snowdrops and Winter Heather bloom during the winter and can provide interest and texture to your arrangement. For a pop of colour and a sign that spring is on the way, consider adding some early flowering bulbs like Snowdrops.

Q: What are the best winter pots?

When selecting pots for your winter plants, it’s crucial to consider a pot’s material and drainage. Frost-resistant materials like stone, high-quality plastic, or fibreglass are good choices as they won’t crack in freezing temperatures. In terms of size, larger pots tend to be better for winter gardening because they can hold more soil, helping to insulate the roots of your plants against frost. Make sure the pot has good drainage to prevent waterlogging, which can be damaging to many plants during winter.

Q: What bedding plants are frost hardy?

Several bedding plants can withstand the frost and add colour and texture to your garden during winter. These include Winter Pansies, which are known for their hardiness and ability to bloom in cold weather. Mini Cyclamen are also frost-hardy, and they bloom from late summer until mid-spring. Other frost-resistant options are Heuchera and Winter Heather. Regardless of their frost tolerance, remember to offer these plants some protection during particularly harsh weather spells, such as by moving the pots to a sheltered location or covering them with frost cloth.

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