Winter Hanging Baskets – The plants that will more readily survive the lower temperatures that winter brings. Of course, the first plants that come to mind are evergreens. Little conifers and box look quite nice as an architectural addition to winter hanging baskets and will last all year round. But just because we’re moving into winter that doesn’t mean we have to compromise on the color in our baskets, although of course our choices will be a little more limited.
There are plenty of plants that will go right through the winter and keep our houses looking beautiful, many of them flowering. Here’s a few ideas for flowering winter plants to keep your hanging baskets looking as lovely as they do in the summer.
Winter Pansies and Violas
Pansies are a great choice for baskets, being hardy enough to survive most of what winter can throw at them. They also come in a variety of colors, hard to find with other winter flowering plants. Choose the brighter colored varieties – whites, primroses, yellows and reds – to brighten dark winter days. Darker varieties, the deep blues and purples, won’t show so well without as much light to make them sing. Pansies will be happy in most soils, and follow the sun (much like sunflowers) so place them in a sunny position if you can.
Violas, with alpine genes in their history, are hardier than pansies with smaller flowers but more of them – quantity can make up for quality here. Although perhaps a little less showy, they are less likely to flop over and will also be less affected by windy weather.
Dead-head both varieties often through the winter to encourage new blooms.
Primroses (Primula Vulgaris) are native to the UK and Europe, and some more temperate Asian countries. They grow in tight-knit clumps so make a great centre piece for a winter basket or pot. Try a few different colors with some trailing ivy around the edge for a simple but effective winter basket.
The great thing about cyclamens is that you don’t have to be tending them every minute of the day to keep them in fine fettle. They’ll do pretty well left to their own devices, and let’s face it, who wants to be outside all day looking after baskets in grim winter weather? Their other great advantage is their colors – deep, bright reds, pinks and purples will bring a welcome splash of color to help you through the driest months of the year. They’ll flower all year round, even through January and February, so they make a great choice for a winter basket.
The polyanthus is, like the primrose, a member of the Primula family. They are resistant to frost, and whilst they might not flower right through the winter, they will be the first flowers in early spring, sometimes before the daffodils. Long-stemmed, they make a great centre piece for a winter basket with lower growing violas or winter pansies around them.
Sometimes known as Cape Heath, E. Gracilis is very like heather with magenta and sometimes white flowers. It will flower from early autumn right through to spring, so can make a great addition to a winter basket. Watch the position though, and the temperature. E. Gracilis isn’t as resistant to frost as some winter flowering plants and may actually have to be brought in on really cold nights.
This is a very early flowering variety, usually putting out it’s first flowers in early February. Plant some bulbs in your basket in early autumn at about twice their depth and be surprised by their appearance in the darkest days of Winter when it seems as if spring will never come! Colors range from light blue to violet so will go particularly well with some yellow pansies or primulas.
Whilst these plants are often not flowering (although some varieties of ivy will and heathers do of course) they make a great addition to any basket, adding architectural interest and variety.
Ivy. Ivy really has to be the mainstay of trailers for hanging baskets at any time of year, but they’ll add some welcome architectural interest to your winter baskets. Variegated types like Hedera will add a little interest. Either in the top around the sides, surrounding pansies and polyanthus, or peeking out of holes around the sides of the basket, ivy couldn’t be easier to grow. Don’t forget that some varieties will flower, too.
Box (Buxus). Increasingly popular in garden centre hanging baskets, Box can be an architectural centre piece and can be trimmed into all sorts of interesting shapes – if you have the time, the patience and the inclination.
Regular care of winter hanging baskets
Don’t forget to water! Even in winter your hanging baskets will dry out, especially when the winter winds hit them. Water regularly to keep them fresh and blooming, keeping the compost moist without letting it get soggy. Avoid getting the leaves and flowers wet when watering in winter since retained moisture might freeze and damage your beautiful spray of color.