by Kathie Hoyer – November 24, 2020

Most of the fall annuals have called it quits, but you don’t need to drag your outdoor containers into storage or tolerate their emptiness quite yet. Decorating your porch containers and entryway with colorful stems and evergreen bunches is a quick and simple way to welcome the holidays. We created this short video demonstration, below, so you can see how easily this can be accomplished! The options are endless, and we are always happy to help you come up with the perfect combination. All of our stems and bunches are available in-store or online at

If you haven’t cleaned out your pots yet it is not necessary to dig up any of the remaining annuals – just snip them off at soil level and leave the roots behind to help anchor your branches. If you have boxwoods or other evergreens already planted in your containers that is great! Fill up the empty soil around them and add a fresh element with bright dogwood stems, winterberry branches, or draping incense cedar. Another option is to “fake plant” a small evergreen by sinking the nursery pot into a large container and surrounding it with cut branches. If you remember to water it regularly, the surrounding soil will help insulate its roots and you can plant it out in the garden next spring.

Here are the finished examples with a list of the elements used:

For the 12” Hampshire Cylinder Planter we used one bunch each of:
Yellow Dogwood
Port Orford Cedar
Noble Fir (which I called spruce in the video)
Incense Cedar
Pinecone on Stem Natural & White
Sugar Pinecone White Tipped


For the 20” bronze planter we “fake planted”
a Chamaecyparis ‘Filicoides Compacta’ #1

and used one bunch each of:
Blue Berried Juniper
Blue Coned Cedar
Pinecone on Stem Platinum & Copper
Sugar Pinecone



Make your holiday container makeover effortless and enjoyable with these tips:

  1. Select a variety of stems and evergreens, making sure you choose some tall, some wide, and some draping. The list below will give you some ideas about these three categories.
  2. Prepare your container by removing any plants, adding more potting mix if necessary. It’s best to start with a slightly moist mix and to press it down very firmly so the stems will stay upright. If you are starting with empty pots, you could also use sand or pea gravel as a base.
  3. Pre-cut all the stems by trimming off about an inch from the bottom, just as you would for an indoor floral arrangement.
  4. Start with your tallest elements, placing them in the center, then move outward with wider elements.
  5. Add the evergreens that drape over the edge of the pot, crisscrossing them so that all the potting mix is covered.
  6. Step back and make sure you are pleased with the overall shape
  7. Then you can add more delicate items such as winterberry branches, pinecones, sparkly botanicals, or ornaments for a finishing touch. If your containers are on a covered porch you can add faux elements like glittered stems and branches.

We have sorted the stems and branches to make shopping easier:

  • Tall Stems: Birch Pole; Spruce Tops; Cardinal Dogwood; Yellow Dogwood; Red Curly Willow; Port Orford Cedar
  • Wide Branches: Blue Berried Juniper; Boxwood; Magnolia; Nobel Fir
  • Draping Branches: Blue Coned Cedar; Incense Cedar; Princess Pine; Western Red Cedar
  • Finishing Touches: Winterberry Stems; Glittered Pinecones; Ponderosa Pinecones; Sugar Pinecones

Lastly, if your creative juices have been inspired, think about planting some woody ornamentals to have your own bountiful source for further arrangements. Our Garden Tip Sheet “Growing Woody Ornamentals for Cut Stems” is a great place to get inspired.

Shop in person at Bowood Tuesday – Sunday or online anytime at