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GardenSMART :: Guide to Fall and Winter Container Gardening

Guide to Fall and Winter Container Gardening

By Liz Baessler, Gardening Know How

Just because the weather is getting colder doesn't mean you have to stop gardening. A light frost may mark the end of peppers and eggplants, but it's nothing to hardier plants like kale and pansies. Does the cold weather mean you don't want to trek all the way to the garden? No problem! Do some fall container gardening and keep your cold weather plants within reach. Keep reading to learn more about container gardening in cold weather.

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Photograph courtesy of Gardening Know How

Fall container gardening requires some knowledge as to what can survive. There are two groups of plants that fare well in containers when the weather cools: hardy perennials and hardy annuals.

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Hardy perennials include:

  • Ivy
  • Lambs ear
  • Sedum (Sedum sieboldii, above)
  • Coral bells
  • Bergenia
  • Creeping Jenny

Some may stay evergreen all through the winter.

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Hardy annuals will die eventually, but can last well into the autumn, and include:

Container gardening in cold weather also requires, of course, containers. Just like plants, not all containers can survive the cold. Terra cotta, ceramic, and thin plastic can crack or split, especially if it freezes and thaws again and again.

If you want to try container gardening in winter or even just fall, opt for fiberglass, stone, iron, concrete, or wood. Choosing a container that's bigger than your plant needs will make for more insulating soil and a better chance of survival.

Not all plants or containers are meant to survive the cold. If you have a hardy plant in a fragile container, put the plant in the ground and bring the container inside to safety. If you have a cold-susceptible plant that you want to save, bring it inside and see how it does as a houseplant. A hardier plant may survive in a garage or shed as long as it's given a little bit of water (not too much!) every once in awhile.


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