container outdoors in March


Can I plant bulbs or small plants outside by my front door in a container? I cannot find any pansies at all at local garden centres which I used to purchase in February in the past.


Bulbs should be fine in containers, as are plants like winter pansies or violas, which love cool temperatures and can weather a light frost – and are popular this time of year.   Select plants that are hardy to at least 2 zones below Toronto’s zone 6 (i.e., to Canadian zone 4).

It’s late February now – GTA weather this winter has been challenging – quite dry, with fluctuating warm/freezing periods.  As plants generally don’t like going through freeze/thaw cycles, it is important to plant bulbs or cold-tolerant plants in large containers that are well-insulated.  To ensure adequate insulation, use a lot of soil or line the container with an insulating product like styrofoam. Then add mulch on top of the soil to act as a blanket.

Look for freeze-thaw-resistant containers – ceramic, clay and cheap plastic pots are more likely to crack.  Make sure the container drains well, too – plants do not like wet feet and a freeze could harm the plant.  If freezing weather returns with a vengeance, you could move the containers into an unheated garage or shed for protection, or add more mulch or bubble-wrap, fleece layers, etc.   Ideally, the spots near your front door are protected from the wind (to prevent moisture loss), and get lots of sun!  As the days have started to get longer, fingers crossed!

I’m not sure why you’ve not been able to source pansies yet.  Consider asking the experts at your garden centre about other plant options for your containers.