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Winter Container Gardening

Living with smaller spaces and little room for grand gardens shouldn't stop us from enjoying the beauty of nature. It is especially true as days are shorter and skies turn gray.

Whether decks of apartments and condos or small urban plots, container gardening offers the opportunity for enjoying color, texture and structure to any gardener. Local nurseries are filled with ideas for plant combinations to brighten your outdoor spaces. Many have planted containers displayed as inspiration and to suggest combinations.


Wells Medina Nursery
8300 NE 24th St, Medina 98039
Mon-Sun 10am-5pm

Wells Medina Nursery celebrates its 40th year in 2011. Family owned and dedicated to unique varieties, exceptional quality and outstanding service, the nursery is located on 5 pastoral acres just minutes from downtown Bellevue.


Know your environment and plant wisely. Is the space for your container south facing and exposed to hot afternoon sun or northward receiving only morning sun? Is it on the deck of a high rise exposed to harsh winds? How large is the container? Knowing this information will help you determine appropriate plants. Once you have your container planted, don't forget watering. Evergreen plants are taking up water year round and harsh winter winds and periods of cold will dry out soils.

Many winter container combinations use evergreen shrubs, conifers and perennials, lasting through several seasons with little need to make major changes in spring.


  • Osmanthus, ilex, boxwood, small rhododendrons, pieris, nandina, choisya, heaths and heathers are just a few examples of evergreen shrubs that work well in containers.
  • Conifers such as cypress, pines, podocarpus, hemlocks, fir, taxus, junipers and cephalotaxus offer texture and color. Evergreen perennials also provide color and structure: heucheras, juncus, ferns, euphorbias and evergreen grasses.
  • Deciduous shrubs and small trees with interesting bark add to the variety. Japanese maples and the yellow and red twig dogwoods being noteworthy.

Wells Medina Nursery | Wells Medina Nursery | Wells Medina Nursery |


  • Sarcacocca, winter daphnes, witch hazel, hellebores, mahonias, corylopsis and camellias flower in winter, some with scent, and many attractive to hummingbirds.
  • Plants with berries add spots of color. Pyracantha, cotoneaster, acuba  and callicarpa work well.

Wells Medina Nursery | Wells Medina Nursery | Wells Medina Nursery |

When planting containers, don't forget bulbs. Now is the time to plant spring flowering bulbs. Narcissus, tulips, hyacinths and galanthus placed beneath your winter plantings will burst into color come spring.

Finally, don't be afraid to ask for suggestions. Local nurseries offer a vast range of experience to help with plant selections.

December 2010


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