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A Perfect Winter Container

A Perfect Winter Container

By Pamela Crawford, author, Instant Container Gardens
Photograph courtesy of the author

Here’s an amazing container arrangement that’s ideal for late fall and early winter. I didn’t expect to like this arrangement when I planted it, but I couldn’t resist trying these glamorous cabbages in the side of a basket. I thought they would get too big and hide the pansies planted along the top edge.

Was I ever wrong! The cabbages love being planted in the sides, and grew quite politely, leaving the pansies lots of space.

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The 20" double side-planted basket from

They call the purple one ‘Dynasty Red.’ I don’t know why, when it looks more purple than red. Regardless, it looks terrific alternated with the ‘Dynasty White’ flowering cabbage.

And talk about easy! I very seldom had to do anything to this basket - not even water it! Imagine having this gorgeous arrangement outside all winter (or at least until the temperatures drop below 25 degrees) - and doing very little to keep it alive!

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Cultural Information:

Light: Light shade to full sun.

Season: Winter in most areas. These cabbages took temperatures down to the mid-20’s. The pansies took a bit more cold.

Lifespan: Five to six months in this container.

Care: Fertilize on planting day with a slow-release mix. Repeat if the leaves look yellowish or washed-out.

Water: Water when the plants show signs of wilt or the soil feels dry when you push your fingertip up to your second knuckle into the potting mix. You shouldn’t need to water much in the cool weather if you have occasional rains. But watch closely because if you water too much, it might die. Conversely, very cold weather dries it out, so be sure it’s watered before a real cold spell arrives.

Troubleshooting: The pansies went through periods of looking scraggly after really cold weather. They recovered quickly when the temperatures went up.

Quantity of Plants:

1 Juncus Grass in 1-gallon pot

10 ‘Dynasty Red’ flowering cabbage in 4.5” pots

11 ‘Dynasty White’ flowering cabbage in 4.5” pots

14 Pansies in 4.5” pots

Planting Plan: Easy. Alternate the two colors of cabbages for both side layers. Plant the Juncus grass in the center. Surround it with pansies.

Pamela Crawford, author of twelve gardening books, is considered one of the most accomplished container gardening experts in the country. In addition to designing gardens for over 1500 residences, her work has been featured on the cover of Better Homes and Gardens publications as well as in Southern Living, HGTV Magazine, Fine Gardening, Country Gardens, Country Almanac, Small Gardens, and in over three hundred newspapers. As an expert in her field, she has appeared on the Fine Living Network, and numerous local tv shows.

Pamela has an undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University and a masters degree in landscape architecture from Florida International University, where she received the prestigious "Torch Award' as an outstanding alumnus from the school of architecture.

All articles are copyrighted and remain the property of the author.

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