Plant porch pots with spruce tips and evergreens for winter interest
After a hard frost has nipped all the annuals in your containers, it's time to give them new life as winter porch pots. All it takes is some spruce tips, pine boughs or any kind of evergreen you can find to tuck into your containers. Watch the video above to see how we planted up this evergreen container at our test garden or follow the easy step-by-step instructions below to create your own!
Start with an all-weather container
First, choose an all-weather container to make your porch pot. Plastic, frost-proof ceramic, wood, fiberglass or metal all hold up well in winter weather where temperatures get below freezing. Fill the pot with potting mix, tamp it down and wet the mix so it is just damp enough to stick together and not loose or fluffy.
Smart container tip
One of the easiest ways to create a spruce tip porch pot is to use containers filled with annuals that are done for the season, as we did in the video above. Once these plants have died, pull them up and toss them in the compost pile. If the roots are really tangled together, you can leave them and simply cut off the foliage at the soil line. This actually makes the potting mix more solid and able to anchor the evergreen branches better than loose, new potting mix.
Collect or purchase evergreen branches
The next step is to collect enough evergreen branches to fill the container. You can buy spruce tips at the garden center or hardware store that look like tiny little trees and are perfect for porch pots. But if you walk around your garden, you might find enough evergreens to use in your own backyard. Prune a few branches from trees and shrubs here and there in out of the way spots where it won't leave a noticeable gap. It doesn't take a lot of branches to fill a container, especially if you use a mix of different kinds. Here are some of my favorite evergreens to use in porch pots:
Blue spruce (Picea pungens)
Stiff, straight branches with short needles with a blue cast that can create height and structure
Eastern white pine (Pinus strobus)
Long, soft-needled flexible branches that are often curved and will drape over edges of the container
Juniper (Juniperus spp. and hybrids)
Scale-like needles on stiff branches that come in many shades of green or blue-green and make a great filler
Concolor fir (Abies concolor)
Thick needles with a blue cast on stiff, upright branches great for structure and line.
Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis)
Soft, flat medium green branches with a ferny look make excellent filler or can give the arrangement height.
Arrange evergreen branches in the container
Arranging the branches in the porch pot is as simple as firmly pushing the ends of the stems a couple inches into the potting mix. It helps to trim foliage off the end of the stem so the branch will poke into the potting mix easier and stay put better.
Get creative with your evergreen arrangement
There are no hard rules to this, but you may find it easiest to start with the tallest, straightest branch, such as spruce tips or concolor fir, in the middle and add a few lower straight branches around it to create the height and structure. Tuck Eastern white pine or other curved branches low on the edges so they drape over the edge and give the arrangement some width. Fill in with chunky pieces of juniper or fluffy arborvitae, and add more spruce tips or pine branches to complete the shape. Be sure to mix up textures and colors of the evergreen for an appealing look, or try grouping each kind together like you might with summer annuals for a thriller-spiller-filler combination.
Finish porch pots with decorations
Once the greenery is in the container, you can add fun accents and plants from your own garden to dress it up for the holidays or to look timeless all winter.
- Birch logs
- Redtwig dogwood branches
- Dried hydrangeas
- Seed pods
- Ornamental grass seedheads