Container Gardening: Anchor Containers with Evergreens

Move beyond annuals and fill your containers with durable evergreens.
With its bold foliage, Fatsia gives containers a tropical accent that's green year round.

With its bold foliage, Fatsia gives containers a tropical accent that's green year round.

With its bold foliage, Fatsia gives containers a tropical accent that's green year round.

With its bold foliage, Fatsia gives containers a tropical accent that's green year round.

It's time to talk containers and how you can make the focal point of your container gardens a permanent fixture.

One large plant such as an evergreen shrub or small tree will not only give your containers some much needed impact but also save you money – and a few backaches – in the long run. That’s because this plant will become an anchor that remains in place year round even as you change out smaller, companion plants around it seasonally.

And while deciduous plants, such as Japanese maples, no doubt make beautiful focal points, evergreens offer more lasting impact, regardless of the time of year. When choosing an anchor plant remember not to scrimp on the pot; select the largest container you can find for giving root systems plenty of room to stretch. Also, note that in summer, the confined soil of a container retains much more heat than garden soil does, so the more space the better!

Here are a few anchor plants to consider, depending on your climate, sun exposure and container space:

Conifers: Japanese cedar, hinoki cypress, longleaf pines, thujas, arborvitae

Yuccas and agaves: Succulents have never been more popular and are extremely drought-tolerant (be careful not to combine them with annuals that require daily watering because that might make the soil too moist for the succulents).

Camellia and sasanquas: Their waxy green leaves aren't the only plus: they also flower from late fall until early spring.

Fatsia: This plant, with its large shiny leaves, lends a tropical look to containers, and the more you pinch off its lower leaves, the more it grows.

Euonymous: Its waxy green foliage makes for great texture. Consider the variegated variety 'Aureomarginatus'.

Grasses: Even if they are not evergreen in your area, the texture in winter can't be beat. Bamboos, especially the black ones, offer a dramatic accent as well.

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