It’s the time of year when it’s totally acceptable to bedazzle your home and put a tartan bow on anything (and everything) in sight. But once the trims of the season are packed away, the world can look a little barren—especially your outside spaces, which glisten so well under December’s lights. We spoke with City Floral Garden Center general manager Trela Phelps about how make your holiday greenery transition throughout the winter. Plus: the one thing she gives you permission to toss.
When the mercury starts dropping
Phelps’ favorite outdoor plantings for winter are small evergreens such as boxwoods and juniper princess pines. When planted in pots, these plants scream holiday cheer, yet they can also add to outdoor landscaping for months to come. The key is choosing a large enough pot so that the root ball won’t freeze. Be sure there are three inches of space between all sides of the pot and the root ball, including the base. You’ll need to water these plants weekly—preferably on warm days—making sure to water all the way around the pot until it starts draining from the bottom. These plants look especially nice in pairs flanking a doorway.
Once your boxwood or pine is planted, use holiday accessories to brighten the pot. Fill the base with greenery trimmed from the tree, sticking the branches into the dirt. Then add real or artificial birch branches to give the arrangement height and color. White- and gold-painted branches are especially popular. Depending on size, tiny ornaments can be added to the plant, or try stems of red berries to bring color. Finally, Phelps loves adding battery-operated, LED fairy lights to outdoor pots.
After the confetti has cleared
“When January comes, pull out the lights and ornamental branches and replace the greenery with a base of pinecones around the soil,” Phelps says. Come April, these plants can be easily replanted elsewhere on your property (just not directly south-facing). And although poinsettias can certainly survive in your home until Easter (or even Mother’s Day), Phelps suggests saying goodbye to the holiday mainstays in February and replacing them with a different seasonal plant. In fact, when you buy your poinsettia at City Floral, it comes with a trade-in policy: Bring your poinsettia back to the store in February, and they’ll replace it with something else. “At that point, it’s kind of nice to bring something new into the house,” Phelps says.