Cold weather’s coming, but that doesn’t mean gardening has to come to an end! Containers are great ways to bring life and color to your landscape, and their portability means you can move them around to get the best light and warmth that winter has to offer.
Winter can be hard on both containers and plants, so follow these tips to keep your containers and plants happy and healthy even in the coldest of cold snaps:
Plant Early: Give fall plantings at least a month of warm weather (and warm soil) to establish roots before freezing weather sets in.
Choose Non-Porous Pots: Concrete and clay pots absorb moisture, which can freeze and crack the pot. For year-round success outdoors in cold weather, use non-porous containers, such as plastic or resin.
Water Regularly: Desiccation, or drying out, is the biggest cause of winter damage to plants. Water your containers when they’re dry, and be sure to water before a hard freeze. The best time to water is in the morning when the soil is warming up for the day.
Ensure Good Drainage: On the other hand, you don’t want water collecting in the pot that can freeze, expand, and break the container, not to mention waterlog the plants! Make sure your planters have drainage holes, and choose high-quality, well draining potting soil. Don’t allow the containers to sit in a tray of water, as most cool weather plants dislike being soggy.
Choose Hardy Plants: Containers get colder than the ground soil, so even plants that are hardy in your zone might struggle when planted outdoors in a container. For best results, look for plants rated at least one zone colder than your area.
Feed Slowly: Plants absorb less during cold weather, so overfeeding and overwatering doesn’t help. Use rich soil, and a slow release, balanced organic fertilizer at planting time to give a steady (but light) supply of nutrients all winter long.
Locate Wisely: Sunlight is weaker in winter, and winds are drier. Locate containers in the sunniest possible location, away from strong winds that can dry plants out or blow pots over.
Add Protection: Help protect your containers from harsh weather by grouping them together near a sheltering wall or fence.