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Plants that will survive in a container over the winter?

Posted by DCist 7 (Northern VA / DC) (My Page) on
Wed, May 2, 12 at 4:50

So, thanks for taking a peek.

I've redone my entire front and back yards in a an urban row-home setting. I've added lots of permeable areas, a rain garden, etc etc. Last week I built a pergola in the backyard.

Now, I want to hang plants from it. But, here's the deal: I do not want more maintenance. SO... what plants will survive in the containers (steel with coco lined with plastic) all year. I have no interest in bringing them indoors during the winter.

Anything out there? Vining or cascading habits are better.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Plants that will survive in a container over the winter?

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Wed, May 2, 12 at 7:11

I can't think of ANYTHING that will survive in a hanging basket w/o maintenance over the winter. There's always the need to ck soil moisture so your baskets don't dry out. If your question is relative to cold hardiness only, seek plants listed as hardy to USDA zones 5 and lower and you should be ok in most cases.


RE: Plants that will survive in a container over the winter?

Yes mostly concerned wild cold hardiness.

Ivy, Thyme are some suggestions I've received. Still wondering if any others have ideas

RE: Plants that will survive in a container over the winter?

You said no maintenance though, and unless you bury your containers in the ground, there will be much maintenance. Even when you bury them, it's wise to check them now and again for moisture. Burying them also prevents temperature swings, while leaving a potted plant exposed all winter subjects them to freeze-thaw cycles, which is detrimental. You also risk breaking dormancy should you get a few days of warmth in winter, leaving the plants to then be frozen.

With all that said, there is nothing that fits the bill. You have 4 options:
1. Grow tropicals and bring them in for winter (which you said no)
2. Grow plants hardy in your zone, and bury the containers for winter, with occasional checks.
3. Start fresh in spring, and deep six it all at the end of the season.
4. Get fake plants.

All in all, if you want to have containerized plants, you are going to have to invest some time for their maintenance. I try and explain this to my wife every year when she gets all kinds of stuff for the deck, and is too lazy to water them when they need it.


RE: Plants that will survive in a container over the winter?

I live in a similar zone to you and have many plants that I overwinter in hanging baskets, outside, still hanging out there all winter. They do require care in checking moisture levels and mulching well over the winter or they won't survive - as tapla and Joe point. The key, as tapla says, is to survive zone 5 or below (two USDA grades below your current one). What you don't mention is how much sun you get which would help direct suggestions, and what size baskets.

In addition to the plants already recommended - depending on your light - you might consider strawberries, the dreaded barberry, dwarf chamaecyparis (root pruning at regular intervals recomended), hardy native ferns, kinnikinnick, wintergreen, cymbalaria muralis (trailer, grow from seed - even if it dies back it reseeds sometimes too well), dwarf blueberries, cranberry (trailer!). I've grown on all of these, and kept them happy even, in 16" baskets of the type you describe. However, I do treat them to tapla's 5-1-1 mix, and repot with fresh mix every year. I look forward to hearing what you choose.

RE: Plants that will survive in a container over the winter?

Hi! I'm in British Columbia, Canada. I have to say, I leave my hanging baskets out all winter - Canadian winter - no mulch no nothing. I ignore them. What lives lives, what dies dies.
What has consistantly come back year after year:

Turk's Cap Lilies
Any kind of Pansy or Johnny Jump Up
Marigold- these actually just reseed themselves I think - but I still get them each year!

The lilies, Columbine and Chives are taller - I put them in the middle of the basket, then the Pansies and Marigolds near the edge. Each year I buy some Bacopa and stick it in the pots to flow over the side. Done.

Good Luck!

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