Containers - Winter Care
Outdoor containers should be prepared for winter before the end of the growing season, to allow the plants to establish themselves before the winter weather conditions arrive.
September onwards (Week 35) is a good time to begin.
Containers come in a variety of materials, some better suited to winter weather than others.
For example: wooden containers are better than plastic or fibreglass types as they offer better protection to the root systems.
Terracotta or ceramic containers should be frost proof otherwise they may succumb to freezing winter temperatures.
If you decide to use wooden containers, then it is beneficial to fit a plastic liner inside to prevent the wood from rotting.
There is a wide range of plants that can be used for winter containers.
Having said that, when planting your pots there are a few things to keep in mind!
Spring flowers are colourful but are often damaged by heavy frost / snow.
Small evergreen or variegated shrubs are worth considering as these will add a touch of colour to a container.
Deciduous varieties can also add character to a container when covered with dew drop covered spiders webs, or hoar frosts!
Where containers are sited against a wall or fence it is advisable to position larger plants towards the back of the container.
With isolated containers, locate taller plants in the centre of the container.
Plants grow more slowly in winter so these can placed closer together.
Winter containers are low maintenance with only occasional watering required.
Feeding is unnecessary.
In really cold snaps, wrap containers in bubble plastic.
Raise pots from the ground to assist drainage, this also helps prevent wooden containers rotting at the base.
Choose bulbs such as Hyacinths, Narcissus Paper White and Hippeastrum and or Amaryllis to flower indoors in time for Christmas.
When purchasing the bulbs ensure that they are firm and healthy before buying, and avoid any that have started growing.
Week 40-42: Space Hyacinth, Hippeastrum and Amaryllis bulbs evenly on a layer of moist bulb fibre in a bulb bowl or pot to flower for Christmas.
Some hyacinths are specially prepared for earlier flowering and should be planted in Weeks 35-40.
Fill around with fibre to about 10mm (½”) from the pot rim, with the bulb tops just showing.
Narcissus for flowering in January / February needs to be planted to a depth of two to three times the bulb size.
Place the bulbs in cool, dark conditions, and check them regularly and make sure they are kept just moist.
Leave them until the shoots are 40-50mm (2”) high, this generally takes 8-10 weeks, depending on species / variety.
At this stage, bring the bulbs into a warm, light room (but not direct light) until flowering ends.
Premature removal from the cool, dark conditions, the fibre being kept too wet or too dry, and the bulbs being stored in too warm conditions can affect the flowering cycle.