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Great Woodies for Year-round Appeal in the Midwest | Regional Report

Pansies and other cold-hardy flowers arrive at garden centers in April, putting color-starved gardeners in the mood to start arranging their first annual containers. The jewel-like flowers just need a striking companion, the “thriller” in container designs, but options for substantive cool season annuals are few. Thankfully, there’s a solution: a small tree or shrub.

Incorporating small trees and shrubs into container plantings diversifies the options for gardeners seeking low-care, dynamic combinations. A well-selected woody plant eases transitions between seasonal container updates; exchanging spring pansies for summer flowers, adding a flowering kale in fall, and dressing up your container with some winter evergreen boughs is easier and less expensive with a woody plant offering four-season interest at the core of your design.

Here in Wisconsin, we’ve found some superhardy options for woody plants that seem happy to spend their winter outside in a container. Cold-hardiness is key, and giving…

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