Winter is often viewed as ‘down time’ in the garden, with little to do but wait until spring. Not so. There are many winter plants for the garden, particularly when used in seasonal pot and container displays.
Bright flowers, vivid berries, evergreen foliage and colourful stems can all be combined to great effect. With the right plants you can create a high-impact but low-maintenance scheme, to lift the spirits on even the darkest of days.
For a bee-friendly container, opt for plants with a generous supply of nectar, like crocus, hellebores and snowdrops. Sitting in a frost pocket? Try growing robust plants like Hakonechloa macra, Hylotelephium spectabile and Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’.
More on winter plants:
Browse our choice of plants for winter pots, below.
Imperata cylindrica ‘Red Baron’
Imperata cylindrica ‘Red Baron’ is a glowing-red grass, seen at its best with the sun behind it. Hardy but needs a sheltered spot.
Wintergreen, Gaultheria procumbens
Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) is a naturally festive-looking, neat, low-spreading evergreen with large red berries and reddish-tinged leaves in winter.
Winter-flowering pansies with yellow, maroon, white or purple ‘faces’ will keep flowering except in the very worst weather. But they will recover and then continue until June.
Miniature cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum) are neat, very free-flowering and nearly hardy plants. Normally sold for indoors so needs a mild sheltered spot or use temporarily.
Carex are tuft-forming evergreen perennials with green, variegated or bronze, curly or arching leaves. Very tough and contemporary, and will look good all winter.
Skimmia ‘Rubella’ is a rugged, hardy and reliable evergreen with grape-like clusters of tight pink buds throughout winter. Teams well with heathers.
Phormium is a colourful architectural evergreen with arched strap-shaped leaves in pink, purplish and bronzy shades, including stripes. A good mixer for contemporary schemes.
Ajuga is a rugged evergreen perennial that’s low-spreading with rounded purple or purple-variegated leaves depending on variety. Makes a non-traditional alternative to ivy.
Hardy sedums can be semi-trailing or short and clumpy with purple or blue-grey leaves, good for creating structural displays.
Plants with attractive winter seedheads
Should I water pots in winter?
Watering requirements vary from plant to plant, but there are some general rules to watering pots in winter. Garden plants, although stored in a cool, frost-free place are either stored dry or slightly moist to stop the roots from drying out. Keep watering house and conservatory plants, but reduce the amount of water as growth slows down in winter.