Year round outdoor containers for Chicago

rbpchicagoMay 28, 2014

I would like to know what plants, either flowers or herbs, can stay in a container outdoors in Chicago year round? A lot of recommendations are to either bury the container in the winter so the temperature stays fairly even, or to bring the container indoors during the winter. I don't want to do either of those. i would like to have container plants that I can leave outdoors, in Chicago, even through winters like the one we just had. Any suggestions? Thank you.


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xiangirl zone 4/5 Nebraska(5)

I'm sorry to say almost nothing survives. If you have a large container (like a city container that's 5 ft. across and 3 ft. deep) tulip bulbs and hardy perennials can survive. Smaller containers such as you find in front of homes: barrels, buckets, etc. freeze all the way through because of their size and the harsh conditions. If it's a milder winter, some survive, but most don't. That's why all the information you read says to bury in the ground or take inside. Even outside many perennials are well-mulched to protect them. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. I'm in Nebraska and can't get anything to survive in a container.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 3:25PM
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dellis326 (Danny)

My brother lives in the south loop, 12th floor with a large balcony. He has three large containers about 3ftx3ftx5ft. all of them against the railing, not the wall. He has a couple of apple trees and some other kind of fruit tree, maybe a cherry, a number of iris' and some bulb types. He also has some native midwest plants in them.

He does have uninterrupted sun all day but in the winter he also has uninterrupted wet wind off the lake. Stuff always comes back in the spring. Get or build the biggest container you can.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 7:54PM
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pitimpinai(z6 Chicago)

I have Phlox subulata, Tiger Lilies (Lilium lancifolium / Tigrinum splendens), Liatris spicata/Liatris pocnostachya, Phlox paniculata, Maltese' Cross, Echinacea purpurea that survive in containers for many years.

Most of them are in half whiskey barrels. I do have Tiger lilies and phlox subulata in a tire planter and some phlox subulata in an aluminum tub. Mind you, I did not plant the lilies or Echinacea in the containers intentionally. The bulbils and seeds just fell into the containers, germinated and grew.

I live in the NW Side of Chicago.

The plants that did not survive the winter in containers are spring bulbs (Tulips, Daffodils, etc.) and Hosta. I have not tried planting expensive Lilies in containers.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 1:32PM
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sherrygirl zone5

I am 50 miles west of Chicago. I have 2 plants that have survived in containers left outside for years. I have low growing sedum, yellow flowers in the spring, the name escapes me . i also have yellow corydalis in a pot. It is a free seeder with fern like foliage.


    Bookmark   September 27, 2014 at 12:18AM
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