Winterizing your Miniature Garden and Containers

A few simple steps in preparing for winter can save your containers, pots, miniature gardens or fairy gardens, during an unexpected freeze.
A few simple steps in preparing for winter can save your containers, pots, miniature gardens or fairy gardens, during an unexpected freeze.

Winterizing Your Miniature Gardens and Containers

~ With this wacky weather we’ve been having, there is no telling what kind of weather we’ll get this winter here in Seattle. The upside is that we can react a lot faster because our gardens are miniature.

Miniature Gardening: Go Ahead, Act Your Shoesize

Here are some tips for the colder areas – or if the weather dips like it did here in Seattle last winter – and this will work for your other containers too, not just for miniature gardens.

When a plant is in a container, subtract up to 15 degrees off the hardiness of that plant. A potted plant is a contained micro-environment, and the roots only have the walls of the pot to protect them.

It’s this difference that we forget about, and lose our marginally hardy plants to the winter weather.

Here’s more:

~> Keep an eye on the weather reports and stockpile what you need ahead of time so you can react quickly, without hassle.

~> Plant in the biggest pot you can. Big pots don’t freeze as fast and the extra soil insulates the roots. This may be late news, but keep it in mind for future reference.

~> Plant the whole pot right in the ground for the winter, with the foliage above the earth of course, and let Mother Earth insulate the pot.

~> Wrap the whole pot in bubble wrap with a thick layer of fallen leaves between the plastic and the pot. The leaves will insulate it and the plastic will keep the leaves intact for the season. Cover this with wrapping of burlap to hide it – and add another layer of insulation – and you can have fun decorating it with eyeballs and arms for Halloween, leaf garland for Thanksgiving and twinkly lights for the winter holidays. Use the leaves as compost in your veggie bed in the springtime.

A few simple steps in preparing for winter can save your containers during an unexpected freeze

~> Move the pot beside the house or under a covered porch. This can be a temporary fix to get through a cold spell. If it is something you’d like to http://www.TwoGreenThumbs.comdo for the winter season, make sure the light requirements are close to what the plant needs (Full sun plants will get leggy in the shade, shade plants will burn when that sun decides to come out.) and make sure it gets enough water throughout the winter too.

~> FOR IN-GROUND TOO: Cover the whole container garden with evergreen boughs – it’s nature’s insulation. Wait until the weather is cold enough though, you don’t want it to rot – only to protect. And be sure to take them off promptly in the spring for the same reason.

~> Choose the high-fired pots instead of the terra cotta pots. The pots from Vietnam or China are high fired, fairly freeze proof, and don’t absorb the moisture as much as the terra cotta ones do. It’s the moisture in the walls of the pot that freezes, expands and breaks the pot. Leave your terra cotta for your annuals, empty them out now, and put them away dry for the winter.

~> Keep watering that pot! Even if it is freezing outside the contained environment will need moisture – and the cold will dry it out. This also applies for your in-ground evergreens too – check them during the dry spells to make sure the soil stays at least damp.

~> For more temperate zones with occasional freezing, get the pot up on pot feet, bricks or stones, so the water can drain and there’s nothing to really freeze and expand when the temperatures dip unexpectedly for too long.

A lot of this information came from my brother, Joel Cross, he works at a professional landscaping company just outside of Toronto, Ontario, Canada – the land where your nose hairs freeze! (Which is why I’m in Seattle. ;o)

But, if all else fails and you do loose some plants, there is an upside: you get to try something new next spring!

Here’s a post about winterizing your in-ground miniature gardens, click here.

Like this? Are you serious about miniature gardening? Join us here.

Fairy Gardening with Two Green

14 thoughts on “Winterizing your Miniature Garden and Containers

  1. Great article but just so you know that in Toronto, your nose hairs don’t freeze, it is to damp. Up in Red Lake or Wawa or Thunderbay etc. Your nose hair will freeze.


    1. Hi Patricia, I was born and raised in Toronto and spent about 32 years there before moving out here to Seattle over 13 years ago.


  2. Boy has the weather changed, wish it was still like that though!


  3. Good article. Thanks for the info. Here in zone 6 in the Va. mountains, we protect our plants by surrounding them with straw bales and place old windows across the top to provide light and access for watering.


  4. I live in Plymouth Mass 02360. What zone do it live in??


    1. Hi Kim!

      You are in zone 6b or -5 to 0F. A great zone that you can do a lot with! Here’s the USDA Zone map for future reference:


  5. Great post on the love of mini gardens. Have a wonderful day and cannot wait for more!


  6. Many of my mini-gardens have lots of natural moss I harvested fro woods’s etc. I’m thinking I’ll bring all in and store on screened in porch, can close windows from elements, but it get VERY COLD out there.. I hope this might salvage other plants as well as moss, most are perennial type plants. How does this sound??? Thanks, interesting sites here!
    Ruth in Michigan


    1. Hi Ruth, Some plants prefer to stay outside and go dormant. I’m not finding you in our database – what are some of the plants you are referring too so I can give you a better answer – ?


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