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Low Maintenance Evergreen Plants for Pots

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Adding greenery to your living space can make a huge difference, but not everyone has the time or expertise to maintain a garden. If you’re looking for an easy way to add year-round greenery without the hassle of constant upkeep, then potted evergreen plants may be just what you need. 

These plants require minimal attention and provide a touch of natural beauty that can brighten up any indoor or outdoor space. In this guide, we’ll explore some of the best low maintenance evergreen plants for pots, the best containers to use and some helpful tips on how to care for them, so that they thrive in your home or garden landscape.

a porch with a swing on it and several low maintenance evergreen plants for pots.

Things to Consider

Evergreens are known for their year-round beauty, and they require very little upkeep. That’s why they make the perfect choice for adding curb appeal to the front of your house or improving the appearance of your backyard or patio.

One of the first things to consider when selecting a plant is its USDA hardiness zone. This will help you determine if the plant can survive in your region’s climate and whether it will require protection from extreme weather or temperature changes, and if you need plants that are drought-tolerant.

Knowing how much sunlight a plant needs is essential when creating a successful container garden. Look for plants that prefer partial shade or dappled sunlight (you can find this information on the tag in the plant container) to avoid scorching and wilting.

Now that you know how to choose the right low-maintenance evergreen plants for pots, let’s take a look at some of the top contenders for adding year-round greenery to your space. 

a backyard patio with several low maintenance evergreen plants for pots.

The Best Low Maintenance Evergreens

When it comes to evergreen plants that require little upkeep and grow well in pots, there are many varieties to choose from. Here are some of our favorite choices for the best evergreen foliage with little to no maintenance required:

Hanging Basket Plants

Hanging basket plants such as English ivy and Boston fern are excellent choices for adding a splash of greenery to your space. They soften the look without taking up too much room.

hanging plant with a white wall in the background.

Succulents

Succulents come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, so they’re a great way to add a unique touch to your garden. Choose drought-tolerant varieties such as jade, aloe, yucca and hens-and-chicks for easy maintenance. 

succulents in a pot.

Shrubs

Shrubs such as boxwoods, rhododendrons, and yew can add texture and height to your outdoor space. They’re also low maintenance, requiring minimal pruning or watering. 

Here are some to consider:

  • Boxwood: Boxwoods are one of the most popular evergreen shrubs, and they are perfect for container gardening. They have small, dense leaves that make them a great choice for creating a formal look. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes, so you can choose one that fits your space, like a bonsai plant. Boxwoods prefer partial shade, but they can also tolerate full sun.
  • Holly: Holly is vibrant green, so it’s perfect for adding color and depth to your garden. It also happens to be deer-resistant and drought-tolerant, so it’s ideal for low maintenance landscaping. 
  • Japanese Holly: Japanese holly is a versatile shrub with deep green leaves and bright red berries. This evergreen can be kept small and neat with regular pruning, but it doesn’t take much time to maintain.
  • Japanese Yew: Japanese yew has bright green needles and reddish-purple berries. It’s deer-resistant, drought tolerant, and doesn’t require much maintenance to keep it looking its best.
  • Juniper: Junipers are another kind of shrub that are perfect for container gardening. They have a wide variety of shapes and sizes, from low-growing groundcovers to tall, upright trees. They are extremely hardy and can tolerate a wide range of conditions. Junipers prefer full sun, but they can also tolerate partial shade.
  • Yew: Yews have dark green needles and a dense, compact growth habit that make them a great choice for creating a formal look, without taking over your space. They prefer partial shade, but they can also tolerate full sun.
a shrub in a pot in front of a brick wall.

Dwarf Conifers

Dwarf conifers such as cypress, blue star juniper, dwarf Alberta spruces or mugo pine can add striking color to your landscape without taking up too much room. These conifers require minimal upkeep and can thrive in a variety of temperatures. 

Evergreen Trees

Many types of evergreen trees can be planted in pots, making them a versatile option for small gardens, balconies, and patios. The trees listed below have compact root systems and grow slowly, making them excellent container plants.

  • Alberta Spruce: Alberta spruce has a conical shape and dense foliage. It’s a slow-growing tree that can reach a height of up to 15 feet, but is usually much smaller in a container.
  • Blue Spruce: Blue spruce is a beautiful evergreen with blue needles that can grace any garden or patio. It’s tolerant of various soil types and needs minimal maintenance to keep it looking its best.
  • Italian Cypress: Italian cypress is a classic with tall, slim columns that can add structure and height to any outdoor space. It’s often used as an accent in formal gardens and requires minimal care to stay healthy and full.
  • Japanese Maple: Japanese maples come in a wide range of colors and leaf shapes, from delicate laceleaf varieties to more robust palmate varieties. These trees prefer well-draining soil and filtered sunlight, making them a great choice for small gardens or shady patios.
  • Pine: Pines are classic evergreen trees perfect for container gardening. They have long, needle-like leaves and can range in size from small, dwarf varieties to tall, towering trees. Pines prefer full sun, but they can also tolerate partial shade.
  • Spruce: Spruces have short, needle-like leaves and a conical shape that makes them a great choice for creating a natural look in a container garden. While these trees grow best in full sun, they can also tolerate partial shade.
several evergreen trees in pots.

Perennial Grasses

Perennial grasses such as liriope or mondo grass are perfect for adding texture to your potted plants. They require minimal care and thrive in part shade areas where other plants may struggle. 

Flowering Evergreens

Flowering evergreens are a great addition to any garden, providing year-round greenery as well as colorful blooms. Unlike deciduous trees, which lose their leaves in the fall, evergreens keep their foliage all year long. 

This means that flowering evergreens can provide a constant source of color in your garden, even in the dead of winter. Here are some of your best options:

  • Azaleas: Azaleas are one of the most popular flowering evergreens. Their vibrant flowers come in a variety of colors and sizes, so you can find one in your favorite color that fits your space. They require very little pruning or maintenance, making them perfect for busy gardeners.
  • Camellias: Camellias are evergreen shrubs that produce showy flowers in a range of colors, from white and pink to red and burgundy. These shrubs can be planted in containers, but make sure to put them in a shady spot since they prefer acidic soil and partial shade.
  • Rhododendrons: Rhododendrons produce stunning blossoms in lots of different colors. This flowering shrub needs well-draining, acidic soil and filtered sunlight. Their shallow root systems make them ideal for growing in planters.
  • Magnolias: Magnolias are known for their large, fragrant flowers that bloom in early spring. While most magnolias are too large to grow in containers, there are some dwarf varieties that can be grown in pots. These trees prefer well-draining soil and full sun, so it’s a good idea to put them on a sunny patio or balcony.

With these tips on how to select and care for low maintenance evergreen plants, you’ll be sure to have beautiful and healthy greenery all year round. 

Choosing the Right Pot

Selecting containers for your plants is an important step in ensuring they stay healthy and vibrant. The size of the pot is important, as it should be large enough to accommodate the roots of the plant, but not so large that it will cause the soil to become waterlogged.

several different pots of varying colors and sizes.

When it comes to choosing the right container for your evergreen plants, there are a few things to consider:

Size

Make sure you choose a container that is big enough to accommodate the size of your plant. Most evergreens prefer to be slightly root-bound, so don’t go too big. As a general rule, your container should be at least twice the size of your plant’s root ball.

Drainage

Good drainage is essential for healthy evergreen plants. Make sure your container has plenty of drainage holes, and consider adding a layer of gravel or broken pottery to the bottom of the container to improve drainage.

Material

When it comes to container materials, there are a lot of options. Terra cotta pots are a popular choice because they are porous and allow for good air circulation, but they can dry out quickly. Plastic pots are a good choice because they retain moisture well, but they don’t allow for good air circulation. Fiberglass and concrete pots are also good options because they are durable and can be painted to match your outdoor decor.

Style

Finally, consider the style of your container. Evergreen plants are often used to create a formal look, so choose a container that complements that style. Terra cotta pots are great for a more casual, rustic look, while concrete or fiberglass pots are better for a more modern, sleek look.

two low maintenance evergreen plants for pots in front of a front door.

Choosing the Right Soil

The best soil for potted evergreen plants is a well-draining, acidic potting mix. Evergreens prefer soil that is slightly acidic, with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5. You can purchase a commercial potting mix that is specifically designed for acid-loving plants, or you can make your own by combining peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite.

It’s important to use potting soil rather than garden soil, as garden soil can become compacted in containers and may not drain well. A well-draining potting mix will help prevent water from sitting around the roots of your plant, which can lead to root rot.

a gloved hand using a gardening shovel to add soil to a pot.

You can also add amendments to your potting mix to help improve its drainage and acidity. For example, you can add pine bark, sphagnum moss, or shredded leaves to help improve drainage, or you can add sulfur or iron sulfate to increase the acidity of the soil.

Remember, when planting your potted evergreen, be sure to choose a container with drainage holes to allow excess water to escape. Fill the container with your potting mix, leaving enough room for the root ball of your plant. After planting, water your evergreen thoroughly and monitor the soil moisture to ensure that it stays consistently moist but not waterlogged.

Care and Maintenance of Low Maintenance Evergreens 

Once you’ve selected the perfect evergreen plants for your container garden, and planted them in the pots you chose, it’s important to learn how to care for them properly. Here are some tips:

Watering

Evergreen plants in containers need to be watered regularly. The frequency will depend on the size of your container, the type of plant, and the climate you live in.

As a general rule, you should water your plants when the soil feels dry to the touch, or monitor soil moisture levels with a moisture meter. Be careful not to overwater, as this can lead to root rot and fungal diseases.

a watering can and some plants in pots.

Make sure your container has good drainage to prevent standing water.

If you have an iPhone, download the Planta app. The free plan will remind you when to water your plants. For Android users, the Gardenia app does the same thing (for free).

Fertilizing

Most evergreens don’t need much fertilization, but some may benefit from a balanced fertilizer once a year in the spring. Make sure to follow the instructions on your specific plant’s label for exact amounts and application methods.

You can use a slow-release fertilizer or a liquid fertilizer, but be careful not to over-fertilize, as this can damage the roots.

Pest and Disease Control

Monitor your plants for signs of pests such as aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, or whiteflies. 

If you notice any signs of disease, such as yellowing or wilting leaves, use insecticidal soap or other natural remedies to keep the pests at bay. 

Compost

Adding compost to your potting mix helps promote healthy root growth and adds vital nutrients to the soil. You can make your own compost with kitchen scraps or purchase it from a gardening center.

Pruning

Most evergreen plants don’t require much pruning, but some may need to be trimmed back occasionally to control their size and shape. 

Prune your plants in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. Make sure to use sharp pruning shears and take care not to over-prune. 

Winter Protection

Even though these plants are generally hardy, they may need some extra protection during the winter months, especially if you live in a cold climate. You can wrap your container with burlap or another insulating material to protect the roots, or move your plant to a protected area.

Following these simple steps will ensure your low maintenance evergreen plants thrive year-round in your container plant garden. Happy gardening!

More Ideas for Easy Yard Care

If you love having a beautiful yard, but also have other things you like to spend your time and energy on, search the entire library of low maintenance landscaping tips:

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