Are there water-tolerant plants for overwintering outside in a hanging container?


Are there any hardy absorbent hanging plants which I could use outside west end toronto, under a corner dripping eavestrough, during Toronto’s coming west end winter? It won’t solve the drip, maybe attract squirrels, but I thought I’d patch the issue while waiting out busy contractors, and adds decoration.
I have a 2 inch by 12 inch ledge on the column to support the plant, and the drip is another 12 inches away.


Thanks for your question about overwintering plants in a hanging container to absorb water from a leaky eavestrough, and for the subsequent photo you submitted.

Unfortunately, if what you are asking about is a plant that would be able to survive the winter — that will not be feasible.

There may also be issues with the mechanics and/or safety of what you are proposing, but it is not within our mandate to expound on those, so I will comment only on what you are proposing to have in your container as plant material.

Most plants in southern Ontario find it difficult to survive the cold even in regular containers, unless they are well insulated from the cold and in a spot that is protected from harsh high-velocity and/or northerly-northwesterly winds.  The plants must be hardy to at least two zones below ours (i.e. plants that are cold-hardy to Canadian Zone 4, because Toronto is in Zone 6) and should be in large containers which are well insulated — either by lots of soil or through lining on the inside with something like styrofoam or through protection on the outside by organic matter such as straw bales or lots of leaves, or non-organic (preferably reusable) bubble wrap or layers of fleece, etc.

It does not seem that you could have a pot of any significant size hanging and/or resting/sitting on your ledge (which looks from the photo to be more like a decorative 2″ deep moulding than an actual ledge).  It is recommended that most outdoor containers for overwintering plants be at least 18″ in diameter.  Moreover, because your plant would be high up, it would be more susceptible to wind than a container that is on the ground.

Further, even plants that prefer moist conditions in the summer do not like wet feet in the winter as this promotes root rot.  It seems as though your leaky eavestrough would create too much moisture.  Even worse is a situation where the plant is also susceptible to constant freezing and thawing because the pot is too small. Consider also that most perennials go dormant over the winter and lose their leaves, so they would not be an attractive option.

Additional problems are that it would be difficult to find a plant because most nurseries are no longer selling perennials and even if you could find one you would be subjecting it to too much stress by repotting it into your container.

If you would like something decorative in your hanging container, your best bet may be to get some colourful branches such as dogwood, holly, pussy willows, eucalyptus and evergreens – which you could supplement with attractive seed pods or pine cones attached to sticks. Better yet, support a local small business by purchasing a ready-made container.  The live branches will brown and/or fade by late winter but would serve your purpose in the meantime.

Or you could find an entirely different solution to the problem of your leaky eavestrough.