Winter Patio Plants - Growing Outdoor Winter Containers

Individually Potted Small Trees With Red Bows
patio plants
(Image credit: dmf87)

Ah, the winter doldrums. Livening up the porch or patio is a great way to fight winter blues. Winter porch plants that are hardy will add life and color to the wintry landscape. Make sure you select cold hardy patio plants that are suited to your zone. What grows in winter in Florida won't necessarily grow in the cold season in Minnesota. 

Once you have the right plants, decorating your outdoor space is fun and creates a relaxing, living vision. 

Evergreen Plants for Patios in Winter

It's always hard to watch the trees lose their leaves and perennials die back. This obviously means winter is on its way and the landscape will have very little charm until spring. Using winter patio plants is a nice way of warming up the area near the home. You can grow in the ground or make outdoor winter containers. 

Evergreen winter patio plants provide the dimension and greenery that will get you through the cold season. Even when covered in snow, your outdoor space will still appear to have some life. Select cold hardy patio plants to ensure that they will survive your region's winter temperatures. There are many species to select, as hybrids and new breeds come out annually, that are suitable for extreme cold. 

If planting in containers, make sure your plant selections can withstand even more cold than in-ground plants since plants in pots are exposed more than those growing in beds. You can protect your container plants by wrapping the pots in bubble wrap, frost fabric, or even an old quilt. 

Varieties of Cold Hardy Patio Plants

There are plenty of plants for patios in winter. Evergreen bushes, conifers, grasses, flowers, and even succulents can be part of the display. Consider plants with winter interest as well, such as those that have persistent berries or interesting bark. 

One of my favorites is a contorted filbert. There is a bronze variety with deep purple leaves during the year, fabulous catkins, and bright pink nuts. Also known as Harry Lauder's walking stick, the stems shine in winter after the leaves fall. They twine and curl in an appealing manner. Some other plants to consider might be:

  • Arborvitae – classic greenery, ease of care, and upright form
  • Yew – decorated with red berries, easy to shear, hardy
  • Boxwood – elegant, tough, many forms
  • Skimmia – male and female plants have interesting aspects
  • Wintergreen – as the name suggests, green year-round, red berries in winter
  • Heather – starts to get flowers near the end of winter, prostrate to erect varieties

Needled plants like spruce and cypress, have unique forms and winter interest. Much like a contorted filbert, a red twig dogwood has winter interest in the form of its brightly colored stems. Smaller varieties of holly will enliven the winter landscape. 

Flowering Winter Porch Plants

You don't have to wait for spring to enjoy flowers. Perfect for outdoor winter containers or growing in the ground, hardy flowering plants are ideal. Try these:

  • Cyclamen starts blooming around February in hot pink to white hues, there are also variegated foliage varieties for more punch 
  • Snowdrops, as the name would suggest, produce lovely white flowers in winter 
  • Winter pansies are a spot of cheeriness needed when cold temperatures are present and come in loads of colors 
  • Hellebores (Christmas rose) produce blooms in hues from white to dusky rose 
  • Hardy clematis drapes attractively over a trellis or any other vertical structure with white flowers decorating the vines 

Larger plants like camellia, winter honeysuckle, pieris, and witch hazel will also provide plenty of color in the cold season.

Bonnie L. Grant

Bonnie Grant is a professional landscaper with a Certification in Urban Gardening. She has been gardening and writing for 15 years. A former professional chef, she has a passion for edible landscaping.