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Easy Outdoor Planters for Winter

Looking for easy outdoor planters for winter ideas for the holidays and beyond? Learn how to design budget-friendly and beautiful container gardens with Christmas greenery.

Winter container gardens are a great way to extend the gardening season and are much easier to create than they look.

Outdoor planters for winter are low maintenance, require minimal investment, and can last through February if properly cared for.

They are great holiday decorating ideas too as you can spruce with up with Christmas balls, bells, ribbons, and twinkle lights too.

This year, I wanted to keep my Dwarf Alberta Spruces in my front porch urns, so I underplanted them with winter greens cut from my yard with some Magnolia cuttings from the nursery.

And I love how they turned out!!!

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What Type of Planters Can Stay Outside All Winter?

Before potting up your favorite greens and flowers, it’s always a good idea to think about what you are using the outdoor planters for and whether or not they’ll be outside in winter all season long.

Because certain types of planters won’t survive the freezing and thawing temperatures of winter.

Certain pots like terra cotta and ceramic absorb moisture that expands and freezes with the rising and falling temperatures which cracks and damages containers.

Better options for winter include metal, concrete, fiberglass, resin, and wood containers.

What Do You Put in Outdoor Planters for Winter?

There are lots of fun options to make pretty winter containers for the holidays and beyond.

I always start with fresh soil because it helps anchor the branches and other festive decor. But here are some more ideas to include in your festive outdoor planters this year.

  • Fresh-cut evergreen branches
  • Oversized ornaments
  • Architectural elements
  • Christmas bells
  • Twinkle lights
  • Ribbon
  • Pine cones
outdoor planter for winter ideas with fresh cut christmas greenery from the landscape and dwarf alberata spruces with magnolia foliage

How to Make These Easy Outdoor Planters for Winter

Since my favorite black urns that flank my front door already had a dwarf alberata spruce in them, I decided to keep them and decorate around them.

Here’s how I did it.

Gather Supplies

Determine what containers you will use, then look around your landscape.

What types of evergreen shrubs or trees do you have in your yard that you can take cuttings from?

I typically use cuttings from boxwood, andromeda, rhododendron, and other evergreen trees because that’s what I have in my yard.

If you don’t have a good variety, cuttings can be purchased from the local nursery.

When choosing container greens, consider the container design thriller, filler and spiller technique.

I not only use this method for my garden container designs, but also use it when creating centerpieces.

Since evergreen plants and shrubs are all, well…green, I look for cuttings that are different shades of green, with different shaped or sized leaves and varying textures.

Easy Winter Container Design that started with black urns from lowes home improvement store, soil and dwarf alberata spruce
After cleaning out the fall annuals that were underplanted, my Dwarf Alberta Spruce is ready for a winter makeover.

Last year, I used both cuttings from my Christmas tree as well as cuttings from my yard.

And the best part?

That outdoor planter design was all free.

In other years, I’ve supplemented with more fresh greens from the local nursery to get more of a variety than I have in my yard.

close up of boxwood
A young boxwood plant from my yard. The smaller leaves and branches make great filler by adding more texture and depth.
close up of andromeda
Pieris Japonica, aka Andromeda, after a dusting of snow. These plants also make great filler by adding a yellow/greenish hue with medium sized leaves and provide more natural color when cut with these beautiful red buds.

Directions to Make This Outdoor Winter Decorating Idea

Since I wanted to keep my Dwarf Alberta Spruces as the focal point (thriller) of each winter planter, I used cuts from our Christmas tree and Cedar Branches as the spiller.

For the filler, I used cuttings from Boxwood and Andromeda shrubs.

To break up the varying shades and textures and add more interest, I like to incorporate some sort of large leaf or dried flower heads from my garden.

Oftentimes, I use Rhododenron leaves and Sedum Autumn Joy seed heads from my garden, but this year, I decided to pick up some Magnolia cuttings from the nursery instead.

5 christmas decorating trends for 2021 by cutting fresh evergreens to make outdoor planters for winter
When taking cuts, cut branches located in the back of shrubs or trees in places that are not visible if possible. Cuts should be taken at the node.

Take Cuttings for the Winter Container Garden

Once you determine what shrubs and trees you will take cuttings from, grab pruners and make sure they are clean before you using them.

I run a Clorox Wipe over them to clean and disinfect them before making cuts to avoid spreading disease and promote good plant hygiene.

If you are unfamiliar with how to take a cutting or basic pruning techniques, please see Pruning Basics.

Then make your cuts and get ready to plant. Gather your cuttings, potting soil, containers and gloves (if you use them).

Since I love rustic looking outdoor planters for winter, I don’t adorn mine with much else.

Depending on your holiday home decor decorating style, you can add berries, pinecones, ornaments, birch branches, ribbon, bows, etc. too.

The bottom line is, it’s your outdoor winter planter design so use what you love that makes you happy!

Easy Winter Container Design using fresh cut greens around a dwarf alberata spruce in a black urn

Add Fresh Soil to Containers and Start Planting

If you don’t have potting soil in your containers, add fresh soil. Then start stuffing it with the thriller, filler and spiller planting technique.

While working with the thriller, filler and spiller technique, plant in layers.

I started with the Dwarf Alberta Spruce, then surrounded it with cuttings from our Christmas tree.

To add an additional layer of texture and dimension, I tucked cedar branches on top of the Christmas tree cuts.

Not only does this add additional texture but the base looks more full.

Easy Winter Container Design by adding more christmas greens to the base of the dwarf alberata spruce in black urn planter
Easy Winter Container Garden Design using different types of christmas greenery in black urn outdoor planter with dwarf alberatia spruce

Now that the thriller and spiller features are planted, I filled in with Magnolia cuttings, Andromeda and Boxwood (in that order).

Check out my IGTV video explaining how I designed each layer.

Pro Tip: While working, stop and step back a few times to at the planter for symmetry and fullness.

Often times, I go back into the landscape and cut more so I can stuff them as much as I can until they look nice and full.

how the front porch looks with a single outdoor planter with alberata spruce and another planted with fresh christmas greenery from the garden
Before, these containers looked sad and lonely. But after, they look so warm and cozy.

How to Care for Outdoor Winter Containers

Water your outdoor planters for winter when you are done designing it.

If your container is not under a protected area like a front porch or awning, the outdoor elements should take care of them all winter long.

If your containers are under a protected area, there are two options of care: water them every now and again, or leave them be and let them dry out when they dry out.

Easy Winter Container Garden Design all finished on the front porch and ready for christmas and beyond
The containers are all done! Now I need to finish decorating my front porch!

My containers are located under the roof line and look pretty good until about mid-February.

I pull them away from the roof line during inclement weather or water them when I remember which helps them last longer.

But to be honest, I tend to forget so I pretty much just let them be.

And that’s it!

Don’t they look so much better now?

Easy Winter Container Garden Design close up with a variety of christmas greenery in black urn outdoor planter for winter with dwarf alberata spruce

Want More Winter Decorating Ideas?

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Easy Outdoor Planters for Winter close up with dwarf alberata spruce and christmas greenery in black urn container

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