Winter Hanging Baskets

plants for winter hanging basketsSummer’s spent hanging flower pots don’t have to spend all winter in the garage. Replant and revitalize them with festive cool weather-hardy plants just in time for the holidays. Hanging pots planted with combinations of conifers, leafy perennials, flowers, and groundcovers can make great natural additions to seasonal decorations. Hanging pots and baskets established in late fall add interest and color that will last long into the winter.

DIY hanging pot soil recipe

Thoroughly clean and sanitize hanging pots and hangers, selecting those that will best withstand frost and wind. Do not reuse last season’s dirt, especially if any plants showed signs of leaf spot or mildew.

Fill the pots with a lightweight soil-based container mix that you can make yourself. Combine equal parts of:

  • Potting soil
  • Perlite
  • Coconut coir fiber

Add a slow-release fertilizer if desired.

Since hanging containers are exposed to the elements, select plants that are hardy at least two zones colder than your location. (In the Washington, DC metro area, that would be USDA Zone 6B.) Choose plants in a variety of heights, leaf forms, colors and textures, which can then be planted in a container very close together. Once planted, water pots sparingly and never water in freezing weather.

The following sections include some good plants and decorative elements for winter hanging baskets and pots.

Conifers and shrubs

  • Boxwood (Buxus spp.)
  • Cypress (Cupressus spp.)
  • Dwarf Alberta Spruce (Picea glauca ‘Conica’)
  • Brown's Yew (Taxus x media ‘Brownii’)
  • Plum Yew (Podocarpus macrophyllus)
    plum hew
  • Winterberry holly (Ilex verticillata)


Pansies can bring brighter color to foliage-dense container combinations. Pansies will bloom all winter, only interrupted by heavy frost or snow. Although they may wither, they will remain alive. Try the scented (and smaller) viola, or winter flowering pansy (Viola x wittrockiana).



Coral Bells (Heuchera spp.), a rugged evergreen perennial sports smooth, wavy, or ruffled heart-shaped leaves in a variety of colors and patterns. They bloom with delicate flower spikes in the spring, but it’s the leaves that make them a great winter hanging pot specimen.


Small pots of ornamental grasses are easy to find at garden centers in the fall. Taller grasses create a vertical focal point when planted at the center of a pot.

  • Blue Fescue (Festuca glauca)
  • Purple Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum')
  • Black Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’)


Some groundcovers make good trailing accents for hanging pots, while others easily fill in to cover bare soil.

  • Algerian Ivy (Hedera canariensis)
    algerian ivy for winter hanging baskets
  • Autumn Fern (Dropteris erythrosora)
  • Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans spp.)
  • Creeping Jenny, Moneywort (Lysimachia nummularia)
    creeping jenny hanging baskets
  • Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei)


Underplant with spring bulbs, selecting shorter or dwarf varieties, such as Dwarf Iris (Iris reticulata). Taller bulb flower stems cannot withstand the wind. Fall-flowering hardy cyclamen (C. hederifolium) grows from a tuber. While easy to grow, it requires good drainage.

Ornamental decorative elements

For the holiday season, add “picks” (a small wood spike with florist wire attached) of pine cones, lady apples, or ornaments to hanging baskets. Tree branches, okra pods, bunches of rose hips, or lotus pods also make interesting accents.

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