Planting a winter container garden or window box helps add color and foliage to an otherwise bleak and barren landscape. Favorites such as Boston ivy and vegetables like lettuce do well in pots throughout the cold, winter months. Protect winter potted plants from extreme temperatures with coverings until the harsh cold spell has passed. Move pots to areas of the garden that receive adequate winter sunlight for optimal growth.
Boston ivy, also known as Japanese creeper, is a perennial vine that thrives in the winter and is hardy from USDA zones 4 to 8. The rapid growth rate requires gardeners to regularly maintain this vine to ensure it does not take over the garden. Boston ivy takes well to several different types of containers and pots, especially window boxes because the vines can creep along the sides and on adjacent walls. If left alone, Boston ivy can reach heights between 30 and 60 feet high. Plant in full to partial sun with even, moist soil for best results. Tiny flowers and dark blue berries appear on Boston ivy. Leaves vary in shades of yellow, green, red and purple, depending on the cultivar.
Winter jasmine, although technically a small shrub, can be planted in large containers and grown throughout the winter. The slender, green stems and tiny yellow flowers help bring color and vibrancy to a winter garden. The drooping, arching stems add interest and attractiveness. Winter jasmine is generally easy to maintain, and is a favorite for beginner gardeners or those with limited time. It tolerates poor soils and does best when planted in the sun. It is also slightly drought tolerant. If trained on a garden trellis, winter jasmine can reach heights up to 15 feet tall. Avoid planting in areas that receive a lot of early morning sun. Winter jasmine is hardy from USDA zones 6 to 9.
Lettuce is an outdoor container plant commonly grown in the winter. As an edible crop, it provides additional use beyond its leafy foliage. Five main cultivars of lettuce are available, including romaine, green leaf, crisphead, red leaf and stem lettuce. Leaf color varies in shades of red and green, depending on the variety. Lettuce requires well-draining soils and does best in 3- to 5-gallon pots. Light, but frequent, watering helps ensure optimal lettuce growth. Once leaves are of usable size, harvest as needed. Cover lettuce once temperatures dip below 20 degrees F to avoid frost burn.
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