What to Plant in Autumn

and Winter Containers

If your patio or decking are starting to look a little bit drab and uninspiring now that all the summer colour has come to an end, then plant up your containers with late season interest plants to add a splash of colour.  

Evergreen shrubs can give a wonderful backdrop of colour throughout the year, especially in the winter months.  Any evergreen can be grown in a container as long as it is large enough.  Conifers are the obvious choice and come in a wide range of colours, shapes and sizes - why not celebrate the Christmas period with a potted Christmas tree decorated with outdoor lights!  If using conifers in containers then choose varieties that won't grow larger than you want, however growing them in containers will reduce their growth and overall height.

Any evergreen shrub can be used in containers but there are several varieties of winter flowering shrubs, both evergreen and deciduous, that can be used too!

Late flowering shrubs will give you extra colour in your pots and containers through the autumn and winter months.  A few highly scented plants include: Hamamellis (witch hazel) which come in yellow, reds and oranges, evergreen Sarcococca (winter box/Christmas box) very highly scented white flowers, Evergreen Mahonia which have scented sulphur yellow flowers, and Viburnum tinus with pink buds opening to white however this is only mildly scented.  Scented plants in containers are always better off planted close to the house to get the most of their beauty and scent.

There are lots of other, non winter flowering, plants that make perfect additions to pots and containers which have interesting features through the Autumn and Winter.  Many have winter berries, such as Pyracantha, Cotoneaster and of course tradtional Christmas Holly. 

Colourful winter stems are also a good choice such as Dogwoods with their red, orange or bright yellow bare stems or the twisted and contorted stems of Corylus 'contorta'.

So that you maximize the colour and make the most of your containers, underplanting the shrubs with Winter hardy and evergreen plants such as winter flowering heathers, cyclamen, pansies,viola and primroses. Along side these you can use trailing plants such as Ivies and ajuga.

You can extend you containers interest into the Spring by planting bulbs such as Tete a Tete, crocus and tulips under your bedding plants which will then pop their heads through early in the year as Winter colour starts to fade.