10 easy care evergreen pots for year round impact
Evergreen pots will give you year-round structure and impact.
And they need very little care, compared to seasonal pots. They are also very long lasting.
I originally wrote this post five years ago. And I’m growing many of these evergreen plants in pots myself. All the plants I’ve recommended are still looking good. Most are even in the same pots!
11 top plants for evergreen pots
- Dwarf mountain pine (Pinus mugo ‘Pumilio’ group)
- Korean blue fir ( Abies koreana – check that it is a dwarf variety)
- Yucca (eg Yucca gloriosa Aureovariegata)
- Phormium (all kinds)
- Fatsia, especially variegated Fatsia japonica ‘Variegata’
- Hart’s Tongue Fern (any fern whose name begins with Asplenium will be evergreen)
- Ornamental grasses. Not all are evergreen but keep their shape in winter.
- Evergreen climbers to grow in pots include Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides)
- Ivy (Hedera helix) A great trailing plant
- Barbed wire plant for an unusual texture (Calocephalus)
- Sempervivens, also called houseleeks or ‘hens and chicks’
You can also buy very young, very small evergreen shrubs and perennials for pot displays. If you plant them in winter pots, they will hardly grow until the spring comes. And even then, they may not outgrow the pot for a year or two.
But when they do outgrow their planters, you’ll be able to plant them out in the garden instead of throwing them away. See this post for more about evergreens for a brilliant winter container display.
So for year round interest here are my 10 best evergreens for pots:
Evergreen trees in pots
The classic choices of evergreen trees for pots are bay and olive trees. Both can be slightly tender, so if you have harsh winters, plant them in a sheltered spot or close to the house wall. The walls of houses in winter often retain some heat and can be good places for protecting plants.
All trees can be planted in pots. This will help keep them small as the roots are restricted. It’s a good way to grow larger tree varieties in smaller gardens. See this post for more about trees for smaller gardens.
Dwarf conifers in pots
Conifers make a surprisingly good plant for a pot. They are structural and have some wonderful shapes and shades of leaves.
The pot constricts the root growth so they won’t turn into monsters.
For tips on choosing and growing conifers, see How Conifers Can Transform Your Year-round Garden.
Sculptural evergreens for pots
Look for strong shapes and colours. Phormiums and yuccas are back, and are increasingly popular. Very trouble-free plants!
Evergreen pots for shade
You can grow evergreen ferns in shade in pots. Harts’ Tongue Fern (any fern starting with ‘Asplenium’) is evergreen. Asplenium scolopendrium is the native wild version so likely to be a survivor. It also has an Award of Garden Merit from the RHS.
Fatsias are also very shade tolerant. In fact, the fatsias I know have tolerated almost anything. And if you thought fatsia was dull, check out the variegated versions.
Evergreen climbers and trailing plants for pots
You can grow ivy in a pot. It’s an evergreen climber. But people often take ivy for granted, or even see it as a nuisance.
Some people don’t like ivy because they regard it as invasive. However, if you keep it in a pot, it is easy to keep under control. And ivy is not particularly fast-growing. If you chop it back once a year, it shouldn’t be a problem. To see a garden that has made a stunning use of ivy, read An Elegant Evergreen Garden With a Touch Of Grandeur.
And you can also grow the beautiful evergreen Star Jasmine (Trachelosperum jasminoides) in a pot.
Clematis armandii (the evergreen clematis) will grow in a pot, too. But choose big deep pots because they have a large root system. They will need a stable trellis or frame to climb up. And you will need to feed them a liquid feed fortnightly in the summer.
Evergreen grasses for pots
I do love grasses in pots. Choose grasses that are good for winter interest, such as Miscanthus, Calamagrostis or Panicum. I have Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’ in four pots and they have been there for five years. I re-potted them two years ago, cutting them in half and replacing them in new soil. They’ve now re-grown back to fill the pot.
I also think smaller grasses, such as Hakenochloa macra, look good in pots too. I spotted the plant below when picking out the 10 best ideas for your garden from BBC Gardeners World Live 2023.
Mixed evergreen pots collection
The all-green, no-flowers look for pots is stylish and easy to look after. The effect comes from contrasting shapes. And if you have lots of different styles of pot, it pulls them all together.
Covering the soil with a fine grit gives a good finish.
Evergreen succulents – they’ll survive more frost than you think
Succulents, such as sedums and echeveria, have become very popular in recent years. They’re drought tolerant and pretty. And also evergreen.
While some of them will only survive in areas without frost, the sempervivens (houseleeks or ‘hens and chicks’) survive temperatures down to minus 30F. That’s much colder than any UK winter and covers US hardiness zones 4-9.
Evergreen plants for window boxes
Ivy is probably the number one choice for an evergreen in a window box. But holly and small conifers can work well too. See how to plant a beautiful winter window box, which will last through spring.
And evergreen pots for Christmas
You can get all sizes of Christmas tree for pots. I love the chance to bring in some unusual conifers. There are some brilliant ideas for winter pots and how to plant them here.
Many Christmas decorations are fine outdoors and you can decorate small pots of conifers to be seen from the kitchen window.
How to look after your evergreen pots
Evergreens are often very easy-care, but all plants in pots need feeding and watering. They can’t get their nutrition from the ground. For container garden care tips, see Your Best Garden Pots Ever.
The important thing to remember is that pots will need watering several times a week – or even daily in hot weather – during the summer. To feed them, add a slow release granular fertiliser, such as Gro-Sure, in spring. Or feed weekly with a liquid seaweed feed, such as Maxicrop organic liquid feed.
Please note that links to Amazon are affiliate, see disclosure. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Other links are not affiliate.
Shop my favourite gardening tools, books and products
I’m often asked for recommendations so I’ve put together some useful lists of my favourite gardening books, tools and products on the Middlesized Garden Amazon store. For example, there are some tools which I use over and over again, so they are in my list of essential gardening tools.
While I wouldn’t call myself a strictly organic gardener, I try to garden in a sustainable and wildlife friendly way. That’s why the Middlesized Garden t-shirts, hoodies and tote bags are made by Teemill. Teemill print on demand, so there are no wasteful excess orders. Plus they use natural materials, manufacture with renewable energy and deliver in plastic-free packaging.
More useful posts about garden pots
If you’d like ideas on displaying indoor plants, there’s advice and ideas here from three top experts who were each asked to decorate a studio flat with house plants.
And for ideas on how to display pots in your garden, here is an inspiring video from Diane and Robbie Perry’s beautiful garden:
Pin to remember evergreen pots
And do join us for more garden tips, ideas and inspiration – see here for a free weekly email.