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Winter Containers: Native Plants are the Best!

Native plants, a pair of pruners and 45 minutes is all you need.

Native cuttings for winter arrangements

As days get shorter, even the slightest hint of a warm day gets me outside and I always feel better for it. I hope you get the chance too. Bringing some of that nature indoors is another great way to stay connected to your garden during the cool season. Here are a few simple ideas and it took 45 minutes start to finish!

First, I spent 10 minutes cutting pieces of northern white cedar (Thuja occidentalis), eastern red cedar 'Grey Owl' (Juniperus virginiana 'Grey Owl'), inkberry (Ilex glabra), stems of the perennial obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana), some winterberry (Ilex verticillata) branches and dried flowers from a hydrangea "Annabelle' (Hydrangea arborescens "Annabelle'). Laying everything out really speeds things up. It reminds me of the mise en place of cooking!

I couldn't find my wad of chicken wire to fill a vase but did see the garden sieve I use for sifting compost. Turns out, it makes a great base for an outdoor table arrangement and bonus if you can see it from a window. First I added a candle and base of evergreen branches -- the eastern red cedar with blue berries and the northern white cedar.

native outdoor arrangement

Next the hydrangeas and voila - a bare table comes alive!

native outdoor winter arrangement

If you don't have a base of any sort, you can skip that and just arrange around the candle.

window box in winter with summer blooming perennials

Right next to the table, I kept noticing how sad this window box filled with perennial tickseed (Coreopsis), and wine cup (Callirhoe involucrata) looked.

window box with native winter greens and blue berries

I added branches of the obedient plant for height, the eastern red cedar with berries for color, and northern white cedar to fill in. Much better!

Next, this hanging basket. It is filled with a perennial foam flower (Tiarella cordifolia)that over winters and an annual or two left over from summer. Adding branches of inkberry and winterberry brought it back to life!

When I headed outside, I intended to fill these two tall pots planted with an inkberry surrounded by fall blooming asters. White cedar added contrasting foliage and winterberry brightens it up. The dried seed heads of hydrangea 'Annabelle' fill add a bit more contrast.

Next, I spied this sad looking pot - also filled with perennial coreopsis. I was running out of cut branches and time so added the remaining greens. A nearby goldenrod had seed heads still in tact so I cut that and placed it in the center ... not great but better!

Oh wait, one more. A little volunteer eastern red cedar I planted in an old wooden container over summer was still in Thanksgiving mode. Now it's in winter mode.

I know many of you are far more creative than this! If you'd like to share, please e-mail photos to Regardless, I hope you have a few minutes to get outside and see what there is to forage for your outdoor or indoor space. It's a breath of fresh air!


We want you to be as excited about planting Chesapeake natives as we are. “Plant This or That” gives you a native alternative to popular plants. Other posts highlight really fabulous fauna native to the Chesapeake.

Nuts for Natives, avid gardener, Baltimore City admirer, Chesapeake Bay Watershed restoration enthusiast, and public service fan.

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