21 Outdoor Winter Planter Ideas That Look Lush, Even When It's Cold

A front door framed by two potted trees and potted winter flowers

Katie LeClercq

Greenery may thrive during the spring and summer but that doesn’t mean your outdoor space has to be barren when winter arrives. After all, your green thumb doesn’t disappear the moment it gets cold outside. And, by filling your pots with the right hardy greenery, you can enjoy an outdoor space that’s lush all year long.

The key? Stock up on plants that love cold weather—or that can at least tolerate the cold. While that may sound like a pretty small group of plants, it leaves you with plenty of flowers, shrubs, and trees to pick from. 

If you need help crafting your cold-weather oasis, we’ve got you covered. We’ve rounded up 21 outdoor winter planter ideas that will help you make the most of your outdoor space—even when there’s snow in the forecast.

01 of 21

Put Poinsettias on Your Porch

A front porch decorated with a tall planter full of poinsettias

Arbor and Co.

Poinsettias bloom during the late fall and early winter. So they’re classic plants to have on hand when it’s cold out. If your winters are mild, you can keep poinsettias on your porch all season long. If not, keep the flowers in lightweight planters—so you can bring them in when the temperature drops below 50 degrees.

02 of 21

Decorate With Leafy Greens

A wooden planter filled with leafy green vegetables

Pure Salt Interiors

Leafy greens aren’t just hardy—some of them actually taste better when exposed to frost. So when it starts to get cold out, fill your planters with kale, collards, and spinach. And for an extra-pretty garden, plant ornamental cabbage, too.

03 of 21

Make the Most of Moss

A porch decorated with three wooden planters filled with moss and two other ceramic pots

Mindy Gayer Design

Moss thrives during the winter. So it’s a great thing to keep in your planters year-round. To keep things interesting, mix and match a few moss varieties—or plant the same kind of moss in a few different planters.

04 of 21

Stock Up on Potted Evergreens

An outdoor space flanked by two potted evergreen trees

True Home

Evergreen trees look lush all year long, but you don’t have to plant them in the ground. By keeping small evergreens in pots, you can dress up any part of your outdoor space—including dirt-free areas, like your patio, porch, or balcony.

05 of 21

Fill Your Pots With Pansies

A front porch decorated with two small pots full of pansies

Finding Lovely

Pansies are vibrant, pretty, and easy to care for. And, best of all, they love the cold. So add a pop of color to your outdoor space by filling some—or all—of your planters with winter-friendly flowers.

06 of 21

Plant Some Ornamental Grasses

Front porch steps lined with pumpkins and potted ornamental grasses

mStarr Design

Ornamental grasses can survive the coldest of winters—looking lush, even when it’s snowing. So stock up on pretty grasses—like foxtails, maiden grass, and blue oat grass—and fill your pots with them. Since the grasses grow year-round, you won’t have to switch them out when the seasons change.

07 of 21

Turn Your Gourds Into Planters

Two painted pumpkins filled with flowers and plants

Finding Lovely

Can’t bring yourself to throw out all the gourds you bought this fall? Turn them into planters instead. Seal their insides, paint their outsides, and fill them with plants. The unique accents will look great topping your patio furniture, lining your porch, or otherwise dressing up your yard.

08 of 21

Frame Your Front Door With Boxwoods

A front door framed by two potted boxwoods

Michelle Berwick Design

Boxwoods are one of the most popular shrubs around. Why? They’re hardy, low-maintenance, and slow-growing so once you coif the shrubs, they’ll maintain their shape! Boxwoods do best during mild winters, but they can hold up to cold winters with proper care. Just brush snow off your boxwoods to keep them from breaking, and they should be good to go.

09 of 21

Plant a Citrus Tree

An entryway with layered rugs, a light blue door, and a potted orange tree

White Sands

Citrus trees like temperate weather, but they’re more durable than you’d think. Sure, they can’t live through a season of freezing temperatures, but they can usually survive a few frosts. So spring for a small citrus tree and keep it in a pretty pot. The tree can live on your porch for most of a mild winter—just keep an eye on it when the temperature drops below 40 degrees.

10 of 21

Find Plants With Pretty Leaves

A front door framed by two potted artemisia plants

Arbor and Co.

Most plants don’t bloom during the winter. But if you stock up on plants with pretty leaves, you can still fill your planters with color and texture. For dashes of silver, snag cold-hardy plants, like artemisia and dusty miller. For bits of red, buy bromeliads. And, for pops of purple, try cabbages and Japanese maples.

11 of 21

Stick Branches in Your Planters

An outdoor planter filled with juniper branches, evergreen garlands, and a few live plants

Finding Lovely

You don’t have to fill your planters with actively growing greenery. By packing your pots with berry-lined branches and fresh evergreen garlands, you can keep your planters looking lush—even when your go-to plants are out of season.

12 of 21

Snag Some Hardy Shrubs

A bunch of potted shrubs clustered together on a balcony

Design: Jess Bunge/Emily Henderson, Photo: Sara Ligorria-Tramp

When stocking up on winter plants, don’t overlook the humble shrub. Shrubs may not be as eye-catching as flowers or as majestic as trees, but they’re incredibly hardy. Fill your planters with cold-friendly picks, like juniper and dogwood, and enjoy having a bunch of low-maintenance plants that thrive year-round.

13 of 21

Keep a Snake Plant in the Shade

An outdoor space decorated with modern furniture and a potted snake plant

Cathie Hong Interiors

Unlike many outdoor plants, snake plants don’t like it when the weather’s too warm or the light is too bright. So they’re great to have in your collection. Just remember that the plants do best during mild winters—so you’ll need to bring them in if the temperature drops below 50 degrees.

14 of 21

Plant Flowers That Love the Cold

A front door framed by two potted trees and potted winter flowers

Katie LeClercq

While most flowers come out during the spring and summer, some thrive during the winter. So you can keep your flower beds packed all season long. Stock up on classic options like pansies, daffodils, and winter jasmine, or spring for an unusual pick like snowdrops or black tulips.

15 of 21

Flank Your Porch With Ferns

A front door framed by two potted ferns

Mary Patton Design

Ferns can grow outdoors all year long—even when it gets cold out. So stock up on the plant, and put it everywhere. A couple potted ferns would look great flanking your front door. And a few hanging ferns would look awesome lining a covered porch or overhang.

16 of 21

Put Several Plants in Each Pot

A light blue front door flanked by two planters, each of which is filled with four winter plants

Finding Lovely

Putting a single plant in each pot makes sense—but it’s not your only option. By mixing and matching winter-friendly plants within the same pot, you can turn your planters into miniature gardens that look great wherever you put them.

17 of 21

Buy Some Berry-Lined Bushes

A small potted holly bush in the snow

John Block/Getty Images

Add color to your planters by snagging some berry-lined bushes that love the cold: Holly bushes are a particularly classic pick. But lots of other plants—like hawthorn trees, elderberry plants, and wild grape vines—keep their berries all season long, too.

18 of 21

Invest in a Cast Iron Plant

Three potted cast iron plants and another potted plant in the snow

Aire Images/Getty Images

Cast iron plants look like they belong in the heat, but they handily survive the winter. So if you want your planters to look lush and tropical—even when it’s freezing out—treat yourself to a bunch of cast iron plants that’ll thrive from season to season.

19 of 21

Look for Winter-Friendly Succulents

An outdoor wall lined with small potted succulents

Home Made by Carmona

Most succulents like warm weather, but several of them do fine in the cold as well. Stock up on winter-friendly picks like cold-hardy sempervivums and sedums and craft a succulent garden that can stay outside year-round.

20 of 21

Mix and Match Cold-Weather Plants

An outdoor space filled with potted flowers, shrubs, trees, and vines

Katie LeClercq

Finding cold-weather plants may not be as easy as finding warm-weather plants, but there are still plenty of options available so don’t limit yourself to one kind of winter-friendly flower, shrub, or tree. Stock up on all the hardy plants that catch your eye, and put them in a bunch of different pots. The mismatched collection will dress up your outdoor space, leaving you with a lush oasis that rivals your summer selection.

21 of 21

Leave Some of Your Planters Empty

A patio corner decorated with a potted tree, a potted shrub, and an empty pot

Mindy Gayer Design

You don’t have to fill every planter you own. After all, it’s the off-season—there are fewer plants to grow. A couple of empty pots will add contrast to your set-up, making your winter-friendly plants stand out even more.