What evergreen shrub or tree will do best in containers all winter? They will be on an east-facing covered porch getting morning sun about four to five hours in the winter and three to four hours in the summer.
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Pam: Planting evergreens in a container for a couple of seasons is fine, but most do not want to live their entire lives this way. Ideally we want to transition them into the garden after a couple of years. So, that being said it is really nice to be able to look out in the garden or in your case a porch during the winter months and see a container with greenery in it. From the time of day and the amount of sunlight your space receives, choosing more of a part sun to shade-loving shrub is a good idea. I am not sure what you are thinking about in terms of height or width but the following list are some options: pieris Japonica, aucuba, laurel, taxus, evergreen azaleas, and the good old standby, boxwoods. Pieris would probably be the most finicky in a container, but it is a spring bloomer and the new growth has a copper color to it. The aucuba look more like a tropical with the gold specks on the foliage. Schip laurel are also spring bloomers but grown more for their foliage than anything else. Otto luyken is a shorter growing cultivar. Both the taxus (yew) and the boxwood are very tough plants and are adaptable to most growing conditions. The evergreen azalea would be the most showy of these options, again a spring bloomer. As with any container planting, you want to make sure there is at least one drainage hole in the pot, and that it is filled with a good quality potting mixture made specifically for containers. If the goal is to keep it out year-round it is a good idea to lift it off the ground with pot feet. This will help air circulate under the container and hopefully prevent the container from freezing/cracking. A thin layer of mulch on top of the soil will help insulate the planting during the cold winter months.