In the summer, we like to decorate our home and landscape with lovely container gardens full of beautiful blooms. However, when the snow starts to fly and flowers are few and far between in the Quad Cities metro area, it’s the unwavering presence of snow-dusted evergreens that keep the landscape looking alive. This year, beautify your home’s entrance with boughs of greenery and other gorgeous accents in your own custom winter porch pot.
Getting Your Winter Porch Pot Started
The first step to creating your planter is to gather all of the materials and supplies you need. Aside from the greenery, twigs, and other accents, you’ll also need a container filled with soil mix to anchor everything in. Since the branches and boughs aren’t actually rooted and growing, you have a lot of flexibility when choosing your container. Unlike container gardening, where you have to consider material and drainage, you can pick pots solely for their decorative value!
Designing a porch pot is a lot like designing a container garden. Using the thriller, filler, and spiller technique will help you make a balanced and attractive container. Thrillers are the most eye-catching element of your piece. Many factors can make them stand out—height, form, and color, to name a few. Tall sticks, bright twigs, berries, and other decorative accents are your thrillers. Your fillers will most likely be your assortment of greenery clippings. They’re nice and bushy, which helps to fill in the gaps. Spillers are generally trailing plants that spill over the edge of the pot, softening its edge. You don’t necessarily need a trailing plant; tender branches, like cedar, can drape over the side of the pot for a similar effect.
How to Build Winter Porch Pots
You can build your evergreen container one of two ways—you can either build them from back to front so that they look good from the “front” angle, or from the center out, so they look great from every angle.
If you’re displaying your porch pot in a corner or against a wall, you should start by inserting your largest boughs and anything with vertical interest near the back of the planter. Work your way forward, placing the shorter branches near the front and sides of the pot. If you’re using a few different types of greenery, make sure to space them out pretty equally, just like you would if you were planting a container garden of flowers. Make sure the greenery is dense enough to fill in the open spaces and hide all the soil. Once the greenery is all in place, you can start adding your smaller accents and embellishments and even lights.
If you’re making a hanging decoration, or simply want it to look the same from all sides, start by inserting your upright thrillers and tallest branches in the center of the container. Instead of working from back to front, work from the middle out, placing the smaller branches and spillers near the edges. Again, space greenery out evenly for a balanced and symmetrical look. Finally, add in your fun, decorative accents—they look great near the center of these kinds of arrangements.
Best Greenery for Winter Porch Pots
If you’re not up for the challenge of protecting newly planted trees through the winter, you can still incorporate the look of trees into your landscape design by adding evergreen boughs to your porch pot designs! Green boughs and branches are the perfect fresh, fragrant base of your cold season container. Here are the best evergreens in the Quad City area to use:
- Pine: As if you needed a better reason to introduce the fresh scent of pine to your porch, pine needles are fantastic options for your container. Their needles are longer than other evergreens, giving your piece a softer feel. Red Pine and Eastern White Pine are the most common in Illinois and Iowa.
- Cedar: The flat, scale-like needles of cedar branches add a delicate texture to your design. Eastern Redcedar is the most common cedar in our region and, despite the name, it adds a gorgeous bright green color.
- Arborvitae: Like cedars, the flatter foliage of arborvitae form branchlets that give a soft and dainty appearance. They’re also bright green in color, and they’re great for sprawling over the edge of your pot.
- Spruce: Spruce trees have much shorter needles than other conifers, but their dense habit makes them perfect fillers for your container—just be careful of their sharp needles when handling them. Colorado Blue Spruce is one of our favorites as it offers a stunning and unique blue-green hue. The Norway Spruce is an equally lovely true-green option.
- Junipers: Instead of cones, junipers produce dark blue berries during the cold season, adding an extra element of color to your piece. Juniper boughs are also quite fragrant.
Accents for Winter Porch Pots
Think of your winter container like a wreath, but in container garden form. Just like you would add embellishments to your wreath with decorations, there are plenty of pretty accents to make your planter pop!
- Pinecones fit right into the aesthetic of an evergreen container, and may already be nestled in between the branches of your fresh greenery. Place cones front and center to make them more of a focal point—otherwise, they’ll simply blend in.
- Sticks and branches are a nice change in form compared to bushy evergreens, adding vertical interest. We love to use porch pots as an opportunity to appreciate the gorgeous bark of some deciduous trees, like White Birch.
- Colorful twigs, especially the vivid red twigs of Red Twig Dogwood, are a natural way to add color to your container.
- Berries, such as holly, juniper, yew, or beautyberries are also gorgeous additions that provide a subtle pop of color.
- Wilt Pruf, make sure you spray your evergreen pot, garlands, and wreaths with Wilt Pruf if they will be outside for any amount of time. This will keep them from turning brown especially if we have a warmer winter than normal in the Quad Cities Area.
- Ribbons and bows can be folded decoratively and placed in the center of your piece, or you can wrap them around the planter itself. You can choose something festive for the holidays, like red plaid, and change it to something more subtle and snowy, like white or silver, in the new year.
- Hydrangea Blooms: Use your dried flowers still in the yard. Paniculata hydrangea blooms work wonders in your design
After you’ve finished the hard work of cleaning up the yard and preparing your vegetable garden for winter, it’s nice to do something fun and festive. If you’re interested in making winter porch pots, stop by Meyer Landscape & Design—we carry bundles of fresh cut greens and bright red twigs that make perfect additions to your designs or we would be happy to fill your containers for you!