Holiday Containers

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Avery Ellis
Hotpots Head Gardner


For many Virginia gardeners, the start of December brings a chance to breathe. The frosty mornings and early dark of winter signal a slowing of the pace, a moment to step back and rest after an autumn of hard work. But really, it’s not time to breathe yet!

For Hotpots, the start of December is the start of another busy season, as we hurry to make holiday decorations of all kinds: wreaths, garlands, swags, and my favorite — holiday containers. Holiday containers are fun and easy to make, and many of the supplies can be foraged from your own yard! A pair of pruners and a stroll through the garden can yield everything you need to create beautiful container winter displays.

A few of my favorite cuts to use are:

  • Winterberry (Ilex verticillata)
  • Red Twig Dogwood (Cornus sericea)
  • Fraser fir (Abies fraseri)
  • Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)



Winterberry and red twig dogwood cuts can be used to dress up containers that are already filled with cold hardy plants:

You can also use evergreen cuts to fill an empty container.  Just pack the container tightly with soil and use it like floral foam to create an abundant display.

winter-hp4 winter-hp5

Christmas lights, ribbons, and even ornaments can be added to bring extra holiday color.


As winter overtakes autumn, it is easy to resent the frosts that kill the summer abundance. Vines that were blooming only weeks ago now cling brittle to their trellises, and the diversity of summer annuals gives way to an endless parade of pansies and violas. But every year, the restrictions of winter bring new chances for creativity! Making holiday containers gives color and joy back to the landscape, and to our hearts. Enjoy, and happy holidays from Hotpots and J.W. Townsend Landscapes!



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