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How To Care For Potted Evergreens In The Winter – Keep Your Plants Healthy!

Looking for the best way to protect and care for your potted evergreens this winter?

It’s hard to beat the beauty and interest that evergreens bring to the stark, barren landscape in the middle of winter. Their bright green needles can often seem like the only splash of color in a sea of winter whites and greys.

But potted evergreens take winter interest to a whole new level. Evergreens that grow in pots can be placed anywhere. In addition, they can be dressed up a bit as well with bows, wraps or even a few lights and ornaments to liven up paths, entryways, patios, porches, decks and more.

how to protect potted evergreens
Potted evergreens are perfect for sprucing up decks, porches and more. Especially for the holidays when you can deck them out with ornaments and lights!

Potted evergreens also have the advantage of filling your landscape with greenery the whole year round. The same pots that bring winter interest also add beauty in the spring, summer and fall as well. Talk about some wonderful multi-purpose landscape plants!

Unfortunately, many gardeners shy away from growing evergreens in pots because of the worry of winter care. But here’s the good news – it isn’t difficult! Nor does it have to be labor intensive or time consuming to care for the plants through the winter months.

With that in mind, here is a look at how to successfully care for your potted evergreens this winter, including a few key tips and secrets that can keep your plants healthy and strong no matter how much snow or cold you get!

How To Care For Potted Evergreens In The Winter

Selecting Evergreens That Work For Your Climate

When it comes to keeping evergreens in containers healthy and alive, it all starts with selecting the best varieties to grow for your climate.

protect evergreens in winter
When growing evergreens in containers, it’s important to select varieties that can hold up to your local climate. For best results, select evergreens that can tolerate one growing zone cooler than your area.

Evergreens that grow in pots will not have the same level of protection as ones growing in the ground. When growing directly in the landscape, the roots of evergreens are protected by the surrounding soil. Because of this, the ground freezes and thaws slowly, guarding the plant from serious injury.

When growing potted evergreens, the roots of plants are more exposed in the winter. Frigid temperatures can quickly freeze soil solid and at lower temperatures. That means any evergreen you grow needs to be able to withstand the cold even more.

Know Your Growing Zone – How To Care For Potted Evergreens In The Winter

To ensure overwintering success, select evergreens that go one lower range than your climate zone. As an example, if you live in USDA Zone 5, select evergreens to a minimum of USDA zone 4. By selecting one zone lower, your potted plants should be able to endure the winter with ease.

As for the hardiest evergreens to pick, most Junipers can handle USDA growing zones of 2 & 3 through 7. Arborvitae and many dwarf pines are good down to USDA Growing Zone 3, while Boxwoods can go as low as USDA zone 4.

Here are some excellent examples of evergreens that work well in cold climates:

  • Blue Star Juniper – Blue Star Juniper Shrubs have incredible sparkling blue foliage on branches that spread out to add big color.
  • Dwarf Mugo Pine – Dwarf Mugo Pine is a slow-growing compact shrubby pine that adds a unique look and texture.
  • Green Velvet Boxwood – Green Velvet Boxwood shrubs add thick greenery that fill pots with lasting beauty.

Give Your Plants The Space They Need – How To Care For Potted Evergreens In The Winter

No matter what type of evergreen you grow, it’s extremely important to give them plenty of growing space in their container. Especially when you are trying to protect them over the cold winter months.

For potted evergreens, that means giving them plenty of soil space around their root ball. How much space is enough? A good rule of thumb is to make sure the root ball of your plant is only 1/2 of the size of the container.

The extra soil around the root ball helps to insulate the root ball from sudden freezing and thawing. It also helps give the evergreen plenty of room to grow and expand. The added benefit is you won’t need to replant your evergreens often either!

When potting or repotting evergreens, select a container that is twice the diameter of the root ball.

Winter Watering – How To Care For Potted Evergreens In The Winter

Evergreens need water. Especially evergreens that grow in containers. And yes, even in the winter! Evergreens do not have the luxury of going dormant in the winter like many other perennial shrubs and bushes. Instead, they slow their growth down to conserve resources – but they still require moisture to survive.

One of the best things you can do for evergreens in pots is to give them a thick, fresh coat of mulch. A two to three inch top coat of mulch can help to conserve moisture throughout winter. In addition, water your evergreens in the winter months as temperatures allow.

As long as the soil is not frozen and the temperatures are above freezing, container plants should be watered lightly every seven to ten days. This will help to keep their roots and foliage hydrated, and the plant’s health in tact.

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It’s also important in the winter to make sure the drainage holes on your pots are free and clear. Ice can jam up under planters, and if excess water can’t drain away, the roots can also suffer from having too much moisture around them.

Location Matters! – How To Care For Potted Evergreens In The Winter

Finally, where you place your potted evergreens in the winter months can also play a big role in their overall health. Keep containers from being out in wide open spaces. It not only protects them from harsh winds and the elements, it also protects them from receiving too much sunlight.

In the winter, partial sun is always a better choice than full sun for evergreens in containers. Evergreen foliage can dry out quickly with winter sun. Even worse, the sun can quickly heat up the container’s soil and trick it into full growth mode. And when that happens, a sudden cold snap can then spell trouble!

care for potted evergreens
Locate your potted evergreens so that they receive some natural protection from winter winds and harsh weather.

For best results, try to locate your evergreen pots in areas that have built in protection. Against a side of the house, on a covered porch or even next to a deck are all great options. These areas will help the plant from receiving the brunt of harsh winter weather.

Here is to adding big interest to your winter landscape with potted evergreens – and to keeping them in tip-top shape all winter long! For more information on adding evergreens to your backyard, check out our article : How To Grow Holly Bushes – Add Evergreen Beauty To Your Landscape!

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