How to Plant Evergreens in Containers


The benefits of evergreen plants aren't limited to the garden bed. Trending landscape design uses dwarf evergreen shrubs in containers for visual impact. The confined spaces of a container require careful plant choice and proper planting technique to ensure the health of the evergreen. Planting evergreens in containers adds dimension to the landscape and a portable decorative option for use all over your property.

Step 1

Choose a small dwarf variety evergreen to limit the need to relocate the plant into the garden the following year. Selecting smaller cultivars allows a few years before growth demands transplant into the garden to keep the plant alive. Examine mature plant characteristics before selecting the best choice for your container.

Step 2

Make plant selections based on available sunlight. Full sun evergreens cannot tolerate shade locations. Sun-loving plants can't tolerate the shade. Shade plants require no direct sunlight. Full sun plants need at least four to six hours of direct light each day. Partial sun/shade plants tolerate two to four hours of direct light in the morning or afternoon.

Step 3

Choose a planter two times the size of the transplant pot to allow room for spreading of the roots. This provides enough space for the evergreen to expand and limits the incidence of binding roots, which occurs when a plant is confined to a small pot. The close confines cause the roots to grow back into the root mass.

Step 4

Before purchase, check the bottom of the pot for drainage holes. Many large containers come with attached bases. Pop it off and make sure there are drainage holes every 4 to 6 inches along the pot's bottom. Water must flow freely through the pot to limit the possibility of root rot.

Step 5

Pour potting soil into the container to fill it to two-thirds full. Use new potting soil and never soil from the garden plot. Garden soil contains clay and compacts differently than potting soil. Garden soil also holds water differently and doesn't allow the quick drainage needed in containers.

Step 6

Cut away the plastic pot surrounding the evergreen using pruning clippers. Direct a light stream of water to the root ball to loosen bound roots and rinse away excess old soil. Lift the plant into the container and position the top of the evergreen root ball one inch below the pot rim. Fill in around the roots with loose potting soil and firm gently.

Step 7

Water the evergreen at the soil level to allow percolation throughout the pot. Monitor moisture levels in the container regularly. Potted shrubs require regular watering throughout the year.

Things You'll Need

  • Potting soil
  • Large pot
  • Trowel
  • Evergreen shrub
  • Pruning clippers
  • Garden hose


  • Oregon State University: How to Grow a Potted Tree on your Porch or Patio
  • University of Tennessee: Trees to Plant in Containers or Wells
Keywords: evergreens in containers, container grown evergreen, evergreen container garden

About this Author

S.F. Heron is an avid gardener with three years of experience in online writing and a working background in aviation and earth and ocean sciences. She is published on various sites, including Helium, eHow and Xomba. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.