Winter Care For Outdoor Flower Containers

By: Julie Day
Outdoor flower containers next to a bench

Outdoor flower containers need a little extra care during cold, winter weather.

Cold weather’s coming, but that doesn’t mean gardening has to come to an end! Containers are great ways to bring life and color to your landscape, and their portability means you can move them around to get the best light and warmth that winter has to offer.

Winter can be hard on both containers and plants, so follow these tips to keep your containers and plants happy and healthy even in the coldest of cold snaps:

  • Plant Early: Give fall plantings at least a month of warm weather (and warm soil) to establish roots before freezing weather sets in.
  • Flower pots for sale in store

    Choose non-porous pots.

  • Choose Non-Porous Pots: Concrete and clay pots absorb moisture, which can freeze and crack the pot. For year-round success outdoors in cold weather, use non-porous containers, such as plastic or resin.
  • Water Regularly: Desiccation, or drying out, is the biggest cause of winter damage to plants. Water your containers when they’re dry, and be sure to water before a hard freeze. The best time to water is in the morning when the soil is warming up for the day.
  • Ensure Good Drainage: On the other hand, you don’t want water collecting in the pot that can freeze, expand, and break the container, not to mention waterlog the plants! Make sure your planters have drainage holes, and choose high-quality, well draining potting soil. Don’t allow the containers to sit in a tray of water, as most cool weather plants dislike being soggy.
  • Flowers blooming in pot

    Select hardy plants.

  • Choose Hardy Plants: Containers get colder than the ground soil, so even plants that are hardy in your zone might struggle when planted outdoors in a container. For best results, look for plants rated at least one zone colder than your area.
  • Feed Slowly: Plants absorb less during cold weather, so overfeeding and overwatering doesn’t help. Use rich soil, and a slow release, balanced organic fertilizer at planting time to give a steady (but light) supply of nutrients all winter long.
  • Locate Wisely: Sunlight is weaker in winter, and winds are drier. Locate containers in the sunniest possible location, away from strong winds that can dry plants out or blow pots over.
  • Add Protection: Help protect your containers from harsh weather by grouping them together near a sheltering wall or fence.

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3 Comments on “Winter Care For Outdoor Flower Containers”

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  • Kate Hansen Says:
    September 9th, 2016 at 10:14 am

    My parents take a lot of pride in their garden, but they live in a place with a cold winter climate and are getting older so it’s harder for them to take care of it as well as they want. Consequently, I usually come over and help them with it. I like your tips on keeping your outdoor flower planters in the best condition so they make it through the winter. I think our biggest mistake is overwatering like you mentioned. We think the plants are dead, so we give them more water, but I didn’t know that could hurt them! I wonder if there are any containers that can help prevent that.


  • Official Comment:


    Ben Erickson Says:
    March 6th, 2015 at 8:23 am

    Hi Jan,
    Thanks for your tips and feedback on caring for your container plants during the winter.



  • Jan Says:
    March 5th, 2015 at 6:31 pm

    I live in Pennsylvania. Every fall when the weather gets cold, I take my potted rose trees, gerbera daisies, and geraniums into my garage to winter over. I water them once a month very minimal to keep them alive. Once the weather warms and we have those nice warm days, I prune them hard and put them outside and water really heavy. Within days I get sprouts and they grow back wonderful to enjoy another summer. Have had my potted geraniums 5 years.


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