This mild autumn weather has lasted much longer than expected, but winter is coming.  Next week’s forecast shows overnight temperatures dipping below freezing, so now is a good time to winterize your outdoor containers. Glazed, cast iron, wrought iron, terracotta, concrete, wood, tin, composite/faux and plastic are all materials used in outdoor container gardening. Read on to learn how to safely store your planters and which ones can still be used over the winter months.

Which Containers Need to Be Brought in from the Cold?

Not every container is suitable for our winters.  Terracotta, plastic, wood, and thin-walled ceramic containers can crack and break when exposed to freeze/thaw cycles. For safety’s sake, plan to bring most glazed ceramics, plastic, composite and terracotta pots into a garage or basement when temperatures consistently dip below freezing.

Containers with lips, curves or depressions can be a hazard for water to collect, which can freeze and cause cracks or chips. Dry them thoroughly, flip them over so water runs off and make sure they are protected from the winter weather, like under eaves, in the garage or on the porch. If your need to leave these ornamental pots outdoors, consider placing them on top of pot feet, bricks or pallets and covering with a tarp.

How Do I Prep Containers Left Outside?

Thick-walled, high-fired glazed ceramics, concrete and cast iron containers are often the largest and heaviest containers but fortunately, they are the ones that do just fine in the winter when prepared properly.

Big containers and urns that have soil blocking the drainage hole should be cleared annually and can be left upright outdoors. If you’ve added materials to the bottom of these containers to allow for drainage, take out the existing plants and half of the soil while it is still workable.  Unused soil can be stored in a bucket in the garage or basement to use again in the spring.

Elevate pots that are left outdoors using pot feet or bricks so they are not sitting directly on the ground. Water can pool and freeze the pot to the ground, which can cause wear and tear on planters.


What Should I Do With My Bird Bath?

Unless you have a metal bird bath, or plan to use a bird bath heater, leaving bird baths outdoors in the winter can cause wear and tear. If water collects in the basin and freezes, it can cause the basin to crack.  If it’s not possible to store your bird bath in a garage, shed or covered porch, it’s best to turn the top over so water cannot collect inside.  If the bird bath cannot be disassembled or contains ornate designs, cover it with a tarp to prevent water from sitting in the basin, depressions, lips and curves.  As with other containers left outdoors, elevate the pedestal off the ground with bricks.

Winter Container Gardening

Once you’ve taken out the old plants of your winter-worthy containers along with the top 8”-10” of soil, you now have room to add winter décor!  Our Holiday Shop Porch Pots are made to drop into your existing outdoor containers and stay fresh-looking through the winter months. The greens expand way past the edge of the pot to fill yours at home. Porch pots will ready-made to pick up and go this weekend!

Our Holiday Shop also offers fresh-cut greens and winter accents to make your own custom creation at home. Our Naperville and Aurora Holiday Shops, are open 7 days a week, 10am-5pm. Our Design team also makes custom designs. For custom orders, stop in to either location or give us a call (Naperville: 630.355.4000 or Aurora 630.820.8088) to get your order in before the rush.