7 Best Evergreens for Containers - Backyard Boss
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7 Best Evergreens for Containers

Brighten up those grey days with a pop of color from some evergreen plants – perfect for containers too! Evergreens are great plants to keep your garden alive throughout the year. The vibrant foliage makes even the dreariest winter season bright and beautiful, while the plant provides wildlife food and shelter. 

Evergreens also make excellent container plants, allowing you a little more flexibility to change the plant’s position and control the growing conditions. Here are the best evergreens to grow in a pot.

1. Dwarf Mugo Pine

Cultivar dwarf mountain pine Pinus mugo var. pumilio in the rocky garden.
Image credits: sichkarenko.com via Shutterstock

‘Dwarf Mugo’ pine is a slow-growing plant with dense branches of dark green needles and brown, ovoid cones. It has a spread and height of 2 to 3 feet each and requires very little maintenance to grace your garden with its interesting textures. 

The pine is often used for landscaping, surviving in hardiness zones 2 through 7, so it prefers a cooler summer climate. To keep the plant happy, fill your container with moist, well-draining loamy, or sandy soil and position it in a spot with full sun. 

The plant requires moderate watering, about once per week. You can also prune the branches in late winter every year to keep the plant compact and well-maintained.      

2. Boxwood Shrub

four boxwoods in brown containers
Image credits: cocoparisienne via Pixabay

Boxwood shrub was a garden staple for a long time, used for landscape edging and screening for privacy. However, its recent decline in popularity does not diminish its prowess as a container plant. The shrub is laden with small, rounded, leathery leaves in a lush green color and grows about 2 to 3 feet wide and tall. 

Plant your shrub in well-draining soil with a pH between 6.5 to 7.5 and provide the plant with 1 inch of water every 10 days. Place the pot in an area with slight shade, up to around 20 percent, and protected from harsh winds and strong sun. 

While the plant is hardy to zones 6 to 9, it may be more susceptible to temperature extremes in a container. Take care to choose a pot that allows for a shallow yet wide root system and is light in color, as dark colors can overheat the roots, damaging the plant. 

3. Japanese Skimmia

red flowers in sunlight
Image credits: Mabel Amber via Pixabay

Japanese skimmia is a dense, mounding evergreen shrub that produces large clusters of fragrant, creamy white flowers in spring. It also features leathery, ovate dark green leaves. The female plants sport red or white berries, making them amazing ornamental plants to grow in containers. 

The best soil for planting Japanese skimmia is rich, acidic, and well-draining. It is among the few plants that prefer part to full shade, as full sun can scorch its beautiful foliage. The undemanding shrub needs water during the dry spells in spring and summer until the roots establish. 

Skimmias planted in containers can benefit from repotting every two to three years once the roots fill the old container. They can grow from 3 to 7 feet tall, and 4 to 5 feet wide, so occasional pruning will keep the shape compact. 

4. Dwarf Blue Spruce

blue spruce leaves
Image credits: Roman Odintsov via Pexels

Another dwarf conifer to add to your container garden is the intriguing blue spruce. The plant’s name comes from its ethereal blue-green or silver-blue, short, stiff needles that shoot outwards from the entire circumference of the branches. 

The low-maintenance plant requires moist, well-draining, acidic soil and at least six hours of full sun to thrive year-round. Like most spruce trees, it does not need too much watering and can benefit from drying between watering sessions. Usually, weekly watering for newly planted evergreen trees is adequate. 

The conifer is partial to cooler summer, surviving in zones 2 to 7. It does not appreciate drastic pruning that can leave bald spots, so opt for frequent, light trimming to help the plant maintain its height suitable for a container. 

5. Blue Star Juniper

Juniperus squamata 'Blue Star' (Flaky Juniper) is a dwarf evergreen shrub forming a globe-shaped mound of dense.
Image credits: Pisitphol via Shutterstock

‘Blue Star’ juniper is a beautiful evergreen shrub with interesting silver-blue needles packed into dense, awl-shaped foliage. The slow-growing plant is also a dwarf conifer that forms a compact mound. They are perfect for growing in containers due to their limited height (1 to 3 feet) and spread (1 to 4 feet).

Keep the plant in moist, well-draining, sandy soil. It also performs well under full sun and in a sheltered spot but requires little maintenance. Water your plant once a week when established, reducing the watering to once per month in winter.

It is hardy to zone between 4 and 8 and rarely requires pruning, though you can trim the plant if you want to keep it in a particular shape and height. 

6. English Ivy

Photo of an Ivy Plant in a White Pot
Image credits: Kulbir via Pexels

English Ivy is a popular evergreen vine that often creeps on the sides of the building to shroud the wall with its unique, variegated leaves. However, it looks incredibly appealing, cascading down containers as well. 

Grow your vines in moist, well-draining soil, though it can tolerate most soil varieties. Similarly, you can grow the trailing plant in any level of light, from full sun to full shade, and its foliage will continue to grow and flourish. It requires moderate watering, enough to keep the soil moist, and is hardy to zones 4 through 9. 

7. Dwarf Alberta Spruce

Snow covered potted dward Alberta Spruce Pine tree in winter in a mountain community in Prescott, Arizona
Image credits: Malisa Nicolau via Shutterstock

‘Dwarf Alberta’ spruce makes a striking container plant with its light green needles and dense foliage. It has a pyramidal shape resembling a small Christmas tree, and you can grow them ornamental pots for an elevated aesthetical appeal. 

Place your plant in well-draining, loamy, acidic soil and position it in full sun, with at least six hours of daily sunlight, for best results. Between each watering session, ensure that the soil’s top 2 to 3 inches are dry. 

While the plant can grow about 10 to 12 feet in height when mature, it can take 25 to 30 years to reach maturity. The plant thrives outdoors between zones 2 to 6. 

Forever Buddies Evergreens

So there you have it; the best evergreens you can grow in containers to adorn your doorways, patios, gazebos, driveways, or balconies. Most of these plants are pretty unfussy and require general upkeep while rewarding you with lush foliage regardless of the season. 

Do you have a garden party all year round with evergreens? Which one do you have, or are you planning to buy? Share in the comments.