Containers for winter colour

By now most of your summer bedding plant displays will have largely faded and will be looking rather tired and neglected. At this time of year many people are faced with a big decision. Do you put the pots that you use for your summer displays into the garage or around the back of the shed and forget about them until bedding plant season next year? Or do you make use of them through the darker months of the year by refilling them with seasonal plants that will add a splash of colour to your garden right up until the spring?
While there may not be the range of plants available for containers at this time of year as there is during the summer months, there is still a wide variety of plants out there that can be used to add interest. At this time of year compact evergreen shrubs, heathers, grasses and ivies can be combined with smaller flowering annuals to add colour. While many of these plants will grow to be too large for their pot they should be looked on as a temporary measure that can eventually be planted out into the garden once they have served their time.
   When choosing a pot for your winter displays it is very important that you pick one with plenty of drainage holes. Waterlogged compost is probably the most common cause of plant death during the winter months. When planting up your container the first thing to do is to add a handful of large stones to the bottom of the pot, along with keeping the drainage holes open these stones will add weight to the pot and will help to weigh it down during any strong winter gales. A layer of free draining compost should then be placed on top of these stones and you can then start to introduce your plants. Starting with the largest position your plants carefully and fill any gaps with smaller plants. When planting up for winter displays it is usually a good idea to really cram the pot full of plants as this can help to make a real impact. The flowering season of your pot can also be extended into spring by pushing a few miniature bulbs down between your plants, which should emerge as your annuals are beginning to fade. When you have finished give the pot a good watering and stand it on some pot feet. The pot is now ready to be displayed, ideally in a sunny sheltered spot.
© Copyright, Highland Landscapes, Letterkenny, 2008.