Keep the dirt, water, and leaves contained.

By Lauren Phillips
Updated November 20, 2019

Nurturing a collection of outdoor plants can be fulfilling and gratifying—until winter hits, at least. Depending on where you live, your outdoor plants in containers or planters can take a beating during the colder months. If you’re a cautious plant parent (and have the space), you likely bring your plants indoors to make sure they’ll survive the season. But where do you store those plants in the winter?

Plants are, in the most literal sense, dirty. No matter how pretty your planters are, they likely get caked in dirt, leaves or petals, dust, and mud from watering plants, general wear and tear, and any other upkeep you might do. It’s fine when they’re outdoors for most of the year, but when it gets cold and you bring your planters inside (hey, it’s better than having to buy plants online every spring when last year’s die in the cold), they bring that dirt in with them.

After a season of sitting on your hardwood or carpet (or any other material) floors, your pretty planters are bound to leave some not-so-pretty rings behind. (Fortunately, plants that spend the whole year indoors tend to be a little less messy than their outdoor brethren.) At the very least, they’ll leave some unsightly water or mud stains, and after sitting for a month or two (or more), those stains will be nearly impossible to remove. So the question remains: Where to store plants in winter?

Credit: Courtesy of West Elm

Courtesy of West Elm

The best answer is so obvious, we can’t believe we didn’t think of it before: the bathtub. Only if you have a standalone bathtub somewhere in your home, of course; you still need to shower, so keep your plants out of any shower-tub combos. If you don’t use your bathtub often—and let’s be honest, who does?—putting that empty space to work as your plant center for a few months keeps the dirt and water and other debris contained. Once those planters go back outside, the bathtub is easy enough to scrub clean. Even better, it looks amazing. And if you have pets or little ones in the house, keeping plants safely out of reach in the bathtub is a safer option, too.

We stumbled upon this smart idea at the West Elm Holiday House, a collaboration between West Elm, StreetEasy, Sherwin Williams, Leesa Sleep, Sonos, and more to put the year’s top holiday decorating ideas on display in a made-over New York City apartment. The master bathroom in the Holiday House featured a bathtub overflowing with potted plants that gave the whole room a lively, jungle-like feel. In the midst of winter, when you’re chilly and gloomy from the lack of sunlight, wouldn’t it be nice to preserve some space in your home for tropical greenery?

In a pinch, a rarely used sink can also serve as an excellent spot for storing your plants in winter. If you have a large standing shower, you can even set a thirsty plant in the driest corner. And if you keep indoor plants all year long, there’s nothing wrong with keeping them in the bathroom, especially if you really don’t use that tub. The goal is to keep the mess of plants contained. And if it also comes with a little decorative flair, all the better.