How to Prepare Your Container Garden for Winter

Just because the growing season comes to an end doesn’t mean your work does! Especially if your area experiences snow, it’s important to prepare your container garden for the cold season ahead.

If you are a New England gardener, fall is the time to close up shop for the winter. This includes cleaning out seasonal crops and properly putting containers into storage so as to preserve their condition and soil.

Not sure what container gardening is? Think coffee cans, window boxes, recycling bins and wine crates. You can get more information about starting a container garden in this awesome Container Gardening Guide by Gayla Trail!

So, follow the step-by-step guide below to ease your garden into hibernation so when spring arrives, it’ll be ready to go! Or should I say grow?


The first and most important step is to determine which of your plants are perennials and which are annuals.

Perennials are plants that can live through many growing seasons. Generally, the top portion of the plant dies back each winter and regrows the following spring from the same root system.

Annuals are plants that perform their entire life cycle from seed to flower to seed within a single growing season. All roots, stems, and leaves of the plant die annually.

This information should be available on each plant tag/seed bag. If it isn’t, you can find out on google.

After identifying each plant, it’s time to remove and consolidate.

Using a hand fork, dig up the annuals by their roots then discard them into your compost bin/pile.

Next you have to decide what you want to do with your perennials.

Unless diseased, they should make it through the winter. However . . . there’s the option to compost them if you’d like a fresh start in the spring.

To prepare perennials for winter weather: trim any and all dead plant material down as close to the root as possible. Remember that it’s 100% okay to leave full flowers alone as they will continue to serve the birds throughout the winter!

Place all plant waste in your compost bin. If you don’t have one, they are an awesome resource and super easy to make.

Last but certainly not least you’ve got to properly store your containers.

Keep the soil in each container and simply move them to a safe place. Good locations are under the porch, stacked against the wall of your house or in your garage if you’re lucky enough to have one.

Just remember to cover containers that are left outdoors with a tarp or old sheet to shield them from the elements. Happy gardening!


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