5 Shrubs for Winter Containers

Keep the landscape looking lush all winter with hardy container plantings. Evergreen shrubs provide lasting color and texture for winter-long beauty whether planted singly or combined with cool-season annuals and perennials in mixed containers. Cheerful winter containers will keep your spirits high even as temperatures plummet.

Oakland™ Holly

With a dense, pyramidal form Oakland™ Holly provides strong structure perfect for entryway containers. Bright green foliage and red winter berries add color to the landscape all winter long. Dress up containers with holiday cheer by tucking boughs of needled evergreen foliage or berry-covered branches around the base. Oakland™ Holly’s broad, sturdy foliage pairs well with colorful evergreen perennials such as Evercolor® ‘Everillo’ Carex and ‘Buttered Rum’ Heucherella.

Mountain Snow™ Pieris

For easy winter elegance fill patio pots with the graceful beauty of Mountain Snow™ Pieris. Arching stems drape gently over the sides of containers, bearing delicate flower buds. The pendulous buds contrast against dark green foliage and open to ivory blooms in spring. Plant alongside broad-leafed Heucherellas such as ‘Tapestry’ or ‘Twilight’. Also pairs well with the strappy, fine-textured foliage of EverColor® Carex varieties. Site pieris in areas protected from harsh winter winds and strong sun.

Obsession™ Nandina

This compact nandina provides a flame of color during the winter months. Fall brings a flush of red foliage that deepens to burgundy in cold weather. With dense growth and an upright habit, Obsession™ Nandina provides a stunning focal point in containers. Accent the rich foliage with the golden hues of creeping jenny or EverColor® ‘Everest’ Carex. Contrast nandina’s fine texture with the broad leaves of acanthus or ‘Buttered Rum’ Heucherella. Obsession™ is extremely versatile, tolerating full sun to full shade conditions and dry soils.

Purple Pixie® Dwarf Weeping Loropetalum

Year-long color abounds in this delightful weeping loropetalum. With cascading foliage and a compact size, Purple Pixie® is made for containers. Dramatic enough to stand alone, the dynamic purple foliage also provides endless possibilities for mixed containers. For full contrast, pair with the complementary yellow hues of ‘Lemon Lime’ Nandina or Evercolor® ‘Everillo’ Carex. The low, spreading habit also performs well as a spiller beneath upright shrubs such as October Magic® Camellias and Jubilation™ Gardenia.

'Soft Caress' Mahonia

Picture-perfect with refined foliage and winter blooms, ‘Soft Caress’ Mahonia shines no matter the season. Sinuous, elongated leaflets add fine texture and deep emerald tones to winter containers. Dress containers for the seasons by under-planting mahonia with spring bulbs or cool-season flowers. Accentuate the golden blossoms with the variegated foliage of Mojo® Pittosporum or ‘Angyo Star’ Fatshedera, or add evergreen color with ‘Cracked Ice’ Heucherella. ‘Soft Caress’ also performs well in window boxes.

Winter Container Tips

When wintering shrubs in containers, the root ball is exposed to colder temperatures than similar shrubs planted in the ground. For this reason, it is best to select plants that are hardy to temperatures two hardiness zones colder than local conditions. Be sure to choose frost-proof containers with good drainage. Terracotta can crack from freeze-thaw cycles, but glazed pottery often fares better. Metal, fiberglass, plastic, and stone stand up well to winter weather. Remember to water containers occasionally throughout the winter months.

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