BE IN THE KNOW: Download the Emerson Wild 2023 Container Garden Guide

While we can appreciate beauty, there’s something to be said about beauty that engages our senses past our eyes. The beauty and fragrance of fresh greenery can let you herald the change of the seasons, the promise of its celebrations and continue to bring joy over the winter months. Lush greenery, and decorative elements are available and at our disposal to embellish our homes, creating interplays of color, form, textures, and movement. While the Winter Container Garden may seem out of reach for many, Emerson Wild is pleased to present our first guide to “Enhancing Winter’s Natural Splendor” with a container garden that will be the first point of conversation this holiday season.

Getting Started

Before we get to the greenery the first thing to consider is your container! Most importantly, your container must be able to handle both freezing and thawing. Crucial for winters that see a range in temperatures in short periods of time. If you’re starting from scratch, consider starting with a fiber liner. With a liner as an insert, you’ll need less soil or sand to fill your container.

Tip: Slightly dampen your soil/sand to ensure that it stays firm when you begin planting.

Shopping for Fresh Greens

Be sure to pick up each bough to give it a gentle shake. Always do this before you buy! If it rains any needles, move on. You’re looking for boughs that smell crisp and fresh, with needles that are pliable. These will last the longest. Colours should be a bright, rich green color and check the tips to see that they are not dry.

Materials Needed:

  • Cold Weather-Proof Container
  • Fibre Liner (optional)
  • Soil or Sand
  • Sharp Pruning Shears
  • Gardening gloves
  • Watering Can or Hose

Evergreen Boughs

  • Pine = 3 to 5 bunches
  • Cedar = 1-2 bunches
  • Douglas Fir = 1-2 bunches
  • Carolina Sapphire = 1 bunch

Leafy Stems

  • Oregonia = 1 bunch
  • Seeded Eucalyptus (optional) = 1 bunch


  • Curly Willow (Natural State) 1 Medium 4 feet or Large 5-6 feet = 1 bundle
  • Decorative = 1 package
  • Decorative Sparkle = 1 package


2-3 different styles

We will be using:

  • Palm Cups – 1-2 packages
  • Minttola Balls – 1-2 packages
  • Buddha Nut – 1 package

Shatterproof Ornamental Balls

 5-7 depending on size, think about combining both matte and shiny finishes and incorporating various sizes

Bow (Optional)

How to Prep your Materials

We recommend planting your greenery as soon as possible. If you do need to hold off for a few days, be sure to store in a cool garage or outdoors. Once you’re ready to plant, trim each tip with a diagonal cut at the length required for your planter.

Designing & Planting

By angling the branches and greenery upright, you will be able to determine the natural direction and each bough’s shape. This will help you decide where and how to position the elements in a natural way.

Creating a Base

Begin with your main branches, inserting them deep enough into the soil/sand. We generally use about 5-7 branches, but this will depend on both the size of your container and branches.

Designer secret: starting with the main branches and inserting your evergreen around the branches helps to prevent the greenery from shifting. This way you’re able to create a balanced shape easily. We recommend Pine as the base, perfect for defining the shape for height, weight, and volume. Begin at the center and work your way out by distributing the tips all around the vessel.

 Tip: Depending on the location and space around your planter, you may not need to fill in the back as heavily, especially if your container is close to a wall.

Designer secret: Find a good size, straight branch for the center of your arrangement. This creates a focal point to build around.

Adding Filler

For a lush and layered design, we incorporate various types of winter greenery. To enhance different colors and textures we introduce the Cedar and Douglas fir that successfully do both and add additional depth.

Top and sides: Cedar

As a bright aromatic green, it will soften the design, add height, and will drape well over the container. Insert the stiffer stems at the top and sides, while keeping the smaller, softer stems for draping low and over the container.

Top and sides: Douglas Fir

Bringing both fragrance and bluish green color to the container, these boughs can be mixed with the cedar.

Top: Carolina Sapphire

One of our favourites! A daintier counterpart to the cedar. As a Cypress, these boughs will have softer tips, a warm fragrance, and a muted bluish-silvery finish. We love it to add an airy, soft look. Remember! All fillers should be inserted evenly front and back. However, if the planter is against a wall, less is required in the back as you won’t see it as much. The trick is to look at the planter’s position from different angles/views especially if it’s located by your front entrance. (Walking towards it, view from the street, walking out from the door, etc.)

Hole Filler: Oregonia  

Adding great texture, a punch of color, we use Oregonia to fill in any spaces and really bring the lushness up a notch.

(Optional) Front or sides: Seeded Eucalyptus

For a touch of luxury in small quantity, bringing a silvery-matte green to the container.

Adding Accents to your Winter Container Garden

Adding a mixture of both botanicals and shatterproof ornamental balls helps to create a holiday décor style and give your container additional character and wow-factor.

Ornamental Shatterproof Balls

For a professional look, mix matte and shiny finishes and use two different sizes. Although, if you select both balls & botanicals, insert the balls first at different heights to create depth.

Botanicals like Palm Cups, Minttola Balls and Buddha Nuts can be purchased affixed to long thin wooden steaks that can then be artfully placed in various locations and at varying heights.

Bow (optional)

Last but certainly not least, our finishing touch! Whether you prefer a coordinating Sinamay decorative mesh or an updated ribbon, a bow really ties the holiday look together. And of course, it can be removed after the holiday season.

On Trend Tip – newness with tartans, a strong black base. Our go-to bows are a combination of weather-proof burlap combined with a classic neutral tartan.

Caring for your Winter Container Garden

 One of our favourite things about evergreen boughs is that they are pretty low maintenance. If they freeze and stay frozen, they’ll last longer than constant freezing and thawing. To help with their longevity, keep the sand/soil moist until they are frozen in place.

Emerson Wild Checklist: Save and print our checklist to make creating your winter container garden a breeze! 
From our team here at Emerson Wild we hope this guide will be helpful in creating your first winter garden container or provide additional insight for those of you who have made one before! Be sure to share your results with us! If haven’t yet subscribed,  sign up for our email list to receive exciting new updates from us. And, be sure to follow with us on Instagram and on Pinterest where we are always pinning the latest trends on all things garden and home.

error: Content is protected!