Gardens - Container Gardening

Decorate a potted spruce for winter

By
Aldona Satterthwaite
Photography by
Laura Arsie

Add boughs, branches, leaves and cones to add a festive touch to your outdoor pot


This handsome outdoor arrangement will bring enjoyment throughout the coldest months. Though it looks luxurious and richly textured, it's surprisingly easy to replicate. The main element is a 90-centimetre-tall, potted blue spruce, which has been placed in a large, frost-resistant, fibreglass container and decorated with boughs, branches, leaves and cones. (If you already have a potted dwarf conifer, simply decorate it as described. Alternatively, substitute a small, freshly cut, well-anchored Christmas tree for the spruce.)

Shopping list

  • One potted blue spruce (such as Picea pungens ‘Compacta', ‘Corbet', ‘Bakeri', ‘Fat Albert' or ‘R.H. Montgomery'), about 90 centimetres tall
  • Silver fir (Abies alba) boughs
  • Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) stems with leaves
  • Variegated Oregon boxwood (Paxistima myrtifolia) or Variegated boxwood (Buxus sempervirens ‘Aureovariegata') branches
  • Large, staked pine cones
  • Western red cedar (Thuja plicata) boughs


You'll also need:

  • Large, frost-resistant container
  • Pruning shears or secateurs
  • 22-gauge florist's wire and cutter
  • Gardening gloves
  • Anti-transpirant spray for cut branches (do not use on potted blue spruce)


Putting it together
Step 1:
Position potted spruce in a large, frost-resistant container with drainage holes. Insert a generous assortment of boughs and branches around the tree's base as shown, pushing them well into the soil (do not cut them too short or they will dry out). Cascade a few more over the rim of the container to hide its edges.

Step 2:
Using florist's wire, bind together two pieces of variegated boxwood, one staked pine cone and a large magnolia stem. Create as many of these clusters as you like, positioning them as desired among the upper boughs of the spruce. Affix clusters with additional wire.

Step 3: Water pot well and keep soil moist until freeze-up; the spruce may overwinter in warmer arts of the country. For extra insurance, water during any late-winter thaws and, when possible, heap some snow around the spruce to keep it from drying out.

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