Creating Winter Containers

December 7, 2023 Cassie Doolittle , Assistant Manager of Horticulture at Chatfield Farms

At Chatfield Farms, we have just finished our installation of winter containers. Whether they are glittery or natural, DIY winter containers don’t have to cost you an arm and a leg to make. Here are a few tips to help you create your own festive home displays, which are hearty enough to last throughout the holiday season.

  • Start with a foundation of greenery. We suggest using a variety of plant material types to help create layers and contrasting textures. While there are some great fresh garlands for purchase, with a little effort you can score fragrant varieties of evergreens for free. One of our favorite sources of greenery is Christmas tree lots. Most places that cut the bottoms and bag the trees have scraps for free.  Also, local tree sellers usually have a bucket of scraps that gets cleaned out before and after the weekend. Help these businesses get rid of waste, reuse and repurpose what would otherwise be thrown away, and spruce up your place in one stroke.
  • Hydrate your greenery. Once you bring your greenery home, cut off a half inch of the stems and put them in water for 24 hours. Many florists anchor their displays in floral foam, which is soaked in water. If you have fresh garland or place your branches directly into your potting soil, misting your pots with water daily can extend their life throughout the winter season. We use an anti-desiccant, such as Holiday Magic or Wilt Stop, which when sprayed onto the foliage seals the stomata to preserve the moisture.
  • Use the Thriller, Filler and Spiller Rule: Arrange your greenery around the “thriller” you have chosen for your pots. This can be anything from trellises filled with ornaments to interesting sticks found in your yard. Add more interest by using dried perennials as fillers such as sedums, yarrow and echinacea seed heads. Tired of raking up pinecones? Throw them in your pots and use a flocking spray to give them that snowy effect. Want bird activity? Create some seed wreaths or pinecone feeders with the kids to bring all the birds to the yard. (Learn more about the thrillers, fillers and spillers in this blog post.)

Don’t just leave those gorgeous planter pots barren this winter! While the garden may be sleeping, you can bring a little bit of joy to your doorstep that can last until spring.


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