Many commercial establishments include outdoor hanging baskets in their décor during warm months, but take them down when colder weather arrives. There are plants that can be added to these baskets for the winter that are very attractive and need limited maintenance to last until spring. If you already employ a service firm to plant and maintain your containers, ask them what they recommend for the winter.
Cool season annuals and shrubs will be quite attractive. In addition, a service can install holiday lights in the baskets, making them look great at night. For the plants to last all winter it is important to consider their placement. Baskets hanging in windy locations will dry out and are not likely to maintain healthy plants, so it may be prudent to take them down till next year. Before you decide to use winter hanging baskets, make sure that you are willing to water all year—whether by paying a service or assigning your own employees.
Though your service can recommend the best plants for your location, the choices are not as limited as you might think. If you want to choose and plant your own baskets, visit an established nursery that can make reliable recommendations and order plants for you.
The hardiest plant will always be ivy, which is available in a variety of shapes and colors. Many become brighter in winter with pink or bronze edges. Ivy grows best in winter and will look very attractive even alone. Another possibility for a vine is vinca, which if well established and maintained will last all year.
Hardy miniature evergreen shrubs will liven up your space quite well, especially in combination with a vine. A local nursery can recommend and obtain a selection for you, and will provide advice on planting and maintenance. These shrubs can include small varieties of holly and dwarf conifers.
Pansies are very colorful annuals which can last all winter in either beds or baskets if watered and deadheaded. Don’t worry about removing snow; when it melts the flowers will be there waiting. (A blanket of snow is an excellent insulator.) A wide variety of colors available means you will be able to find something you like.
Ornamental Kale, a plant often used in bed plantings in winter, is also a good choice for winter baskets. A member of the cabbage family, ornamental kale can be found in a wide variety of leaf colors and shapes; many are variegated with several colors—usually green, purple and white. Leaves also can have fringed edges or feathery shapes. When the temperature drops the colors of the leaves deepen.
If you do decide to plant your own baskets, select a strong container with good drainage and a strong hanging mechanism. Start early in the fall, so that the plants become established before really cold weather. Use a premium potting soil to fill two-thirds of the container and begin to add plants. Put all of the taller specimens in the center and add vines and pansies around the outside. (Remember that healthy pansies will likely fill in any vacant space, but you do want to make your plantings look full even at the start.) To protect your basket from evaporation, cover the open soil with green moss or a good mulch.
Now hang up your baskets and stand back and enjoy them. It is not difficult to create some brightness for the winter months.
With the endless passion for organic living, I - Ann Sanders has come up with the idea of creating A Green Hand. Being the founder and editor of A Green Hand, my goal is to provide everyone with a wide range of tips about healthy lifestyle with multiform categories including gardening, health & beauty, food recipe,...