This morning I read a post about collecting evergreens for container garden decorations, and it reminded me of how I once got yelled at for taking cuttings of wild berried shrubs by a roadside. Long story short, check with homeowners, even if the property looks abandoned or vacant!
However, seeing the post referenced above, and considering the many times I’ve put fresh evergreen cuttings and stems into patio pots and container gardens this time of year for holiday decorations, I thought I’d share the following quick tips on the how to anchor the stems, cuttings, and branches into your pots or container gardens:
Use Last Year’s Soil
Mentioned many times at my workshops and container gardening classes, leave the soil mix in the pots when you disassemble your containers in the fall season. It makes the perfect anchor for inserting your greens in winter. It is a great way to extend the life of your soil.
Boil Some Water
If the soil mix in the pot is frozen or a bit hard from a frost the night before, pour very hot (almost boiling water if possible) into the soil or over the top. It will soften it up just enough to insert your greens. This can be a bit of a pain, but it works! This is when the soil was moist prior from rainfall or plants, but if the soil is new or dry, the opposite is needed – If you poured fresh dry mix into a pot, you will want to moisten it because it will freeze later and hold in your newly inserted evergreens and stems very well during the winter months.
Spray Foam or Florist Foam
I have not attempted this idea, but saw it last night when browsing Pinterest – and thought, ‘Hmm, perhaps useful.’ Spray foam (the type used for construction gaps and cracks in walls available in spray cans) was used in a pot to insert stems and branches. A test of this will be done – but my initial reaction was, “Will the foam come out after, so the pot may be reused again next season?”
Another technique is using green florist foam blocks in a pot as the anchor base (the type of foam used to create floral arrangements). However, I find this to be an expensive option, and reusing soil mix from the prior season works just as well.
Weight the Bottom
There have been cases when a very tall and narrow pot has the potential to topple over from winter winds. I happened to have some old weights from a weight set sitting in my garage, so I put a round iron disk 3 or 5 pound weight plate in the base of the pot before filling it with soil. It makes the pot very heavy, but let me tell you – it won’t budge during a winter storm. The same could be done by reusing old bricks or stones in the base, however, you will want to remove them come next season if you use the pot for plants as it may clog the drain holes, but in winter, no problem.
Attach Tiki torch stakes at the base of birch branches, thick stems, or poles and insert into the soil to attach a holiday themed decor on the top of the pole or branch. They are available in places like the big box stores, hardware stores, and online – It really helps to anchor and insert heavier items. (Note: It might be a little harder to find them in stores during the winter – get them during the summer months.)
And last but not least, remember not all pots can remain outside – they must be tough enough or made of material to withstand the winter conditions (e.g., cast iron, double sided pots, wood, hypertufa, tin, metal, or frost free pots). See my Page on Pot Types.
Don’t forget – Container Crazy CT has Holiday Gift Cards Available!
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