There are plenty of plants that come into their own in winter, providing long-lasting colour through the chillier months of the year.
Planted in large containers, these valiant winter performers will make a huge impact in a small space and will require little maintenance. Be sure to utilise evergreens as well as plants with colourful winter stems. They can serve as interesting focal points in your containers or serve as a backdrop for winter flowers.
Take a look at some of the best plants for winter containers.
For more seasons of colour, we’ve also picked out some of our favourite autumn containers, summer containers and spring containers.
Discover 10 of the best winter containers for colour.
Cornus, carex and sedum
This zingy, low-maintenance display adds a ray of sunshine all through winter, with swaying grasses and bold uprights. Extend the display into spring by underplanting pansies with dwarf narcissi or other bulbs.
We used: Anemanthele lessoniana, Carex oshimensis ‘Evergold’, Cornus sericea ‘Flaviramea’, Sedum ‘Gold Mound’ and Viola ‘Sorbet Yellow Delight’.
Ophiopogon and cornus
This combination utilises the glossy evergreen foliage of black mondo, Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ to contrast with the pale greens of the cornus and winter heather.
We used: Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’, Cornus sericea ‘Flaviramea’ and Erica carnea ‘Aurea’.
Ideal in a sunny corner, on a wide gatepost or doorstep, this mix of hardy houseleeks adds an exotic touch. Top-dress with gravel to raise the leaves off the damp compost and prevent crown rot. Here’s how to propagate houseleeks.
We used: Sempervivum ‘Lilac Time’, Sempervivum tectorum, Sempervivum tectorum ‘Robustum’, Sempervivum ‘Rubin’, Sempervivum ‘Orange Glow’ and Sempervivum calcareum ‘Sir William Lawrence’.
This aged wooden trough has been upcycled and given a new lease of life. It’s planted up with a range of perennials and small shrubs providing flowers, scent, seedheads, berries and more. Discover more upcycled container ideas.
We used: Skimmia japonica ‘Rubella’, Gaultheria procumbens, Bergenia cordifolia, Erica carnea ‘Springwood White’, Viburnum tinus, Euonymus fortunei and eryngium seedheads.
Festuca, santolina, gautheria and ivy
Whatever the temperature, these elegant ice maidens make an eye-catching display. Replace the white-berried gaultheria with white hyacinths in spring. Remove berries that go brown to keep it looking good.
We used: Santolina chamaecyparissus, Festuca glauca ‘Intense Blue’, white-berried Gaultheria mucronata, Hedera helix ‘Glacier’, white violas.
Cyclamen, carex and skimmia
These sumptuous carmine cyclamens pop out all the more when planted alongside a the more muted carex and skimmia. A miniature ivy allowed to tumble over helps to soften any hard edges.
We used: Cyclamen ‘Mini Gem’, Skimmia japonica ‘Thereza’, Carex oshimensis ‘Evergold’, miniature ivy.
Kale, sage, rosemary and Chilean guava
The Chilean guava likes acid soil, so keep it in a pot of ericaceous compost and sink into the larger container. Keep these edibles near the kitchen door. Protect the Chilean guava from frost in a sheltered spot, porch or cool greenhouse.
We used: kale ‘Redbor’, Chilean guava (Ugni molinae), rosemary, purple sage.
Hellebore and ivy
For this container you’ll need winter-flowering hellebores, such as Helleborus x ericsmithii, Helleborus niger or Helleborus x sahinii. We’ve combined it with a variegated holly to complement the white flowers.
We used: Helleborus niger and Ilex aquifolium ‘Silver Queen’.
Nandina, heuchera and berberis
This richly coloured display provides a warm welcome on a doorstep. In spring, compost the violas and replant the rest in your borders. Here’s our step-by-step guide on how to plant up this container.
We used: Berberis x media ‘Red Jewel’, Nandina domestica ‘Fire Power’, Saxifraga ‘Blackberry and Apple Pie’, Heuchera ‘Midnight Rose’, Viola ‘Red Blotch’.
Heather, cyclamen and euphorbia
This container is packed with warm, burnished tones – perfect for midwinter colour. On sunny days, the heather might even lure in some bees taking advantage of the warmth.
We used: Carex comans, Cyclamen coum, Euphorbia amygdaloides ‘Purpurea’ and Erica ‘Mary Helen’.
As with all these containers, once the plants have outgrown their allotted space or are past their best, you can move them to a bigger container or plant them in the garden in the spring.
Winter veg and herbs for containers