20 Colourful Plants For Winter Interest In Your Garden
Brighten up the winter palette this year with a choice collection of winter flowering plants that give colour, form and texture.
This article includes 20 colourful plants for winter interest in your garden in the following groups:
- Winter Perennials and Grasses
- Winter Flowering Bulbs
- Winter Evergreen Plants
- Evergreen Climbing Plants
- Plants With Winter Berries
December is a month for rest. For many plants and animals it heralds a dormant, hibernation period. Our gardens wind down and so do we to a certain extent.
But what about plants for winter colour? For those of you itching to get your green fingers planting something here are some of my favourites for the winter garden.
From soft grasses that look fantastic in the low winter sun, or bright red berries to the early snowdrops and winter aconites, there is something here that you will love to grow and enjoy.
Plants For Winter Interest – Winter Perennials and Grasses
Helleborus or Christmas rose, one of the prettiest winter flowers, perfectly happy in well drained soil, in shade or sun, easy to grow and propagate as well as being hardy. What is not to love about them?
Flower colours range from white and pinks through red to the deepest purples and deep red/brown and yellow.
They will begin flowering round about mid November and continue right through to late spring. In fact some of mine continue flowering all year. They look gorgeous in a winter container with festuca, pansies and primula.
Ajuga is a low growing, ground cover plant, in spring and summer it produces spires of tiny blue or purple flowers but you can also use it in winter for its deep purple or burgundy foliage, on a sunny day it really brightens up the borders.
Festuca is a small, compact, low growing grass in a variety of colours such as lime green and grey/blue. Planted in groups at the edge of the border they add texture and form to your winter display, they look really pretty when frosted on a cold winter morning. Ideal for using in containers too.
Miscanthus looks fabulous in a winter garden, adding soft movement and texture. Winter sunlight catches the long golden fronds, lighting up the garden. These grasses can be used in both formal and informal designs, they add a touch of glamour I think.
Winter pansies are always a colourful choice for beds and container planting schemes, their cheerful faces are pretty and come in a huge range of bold or pastel colours. Team them with hellebores, cyclamen and maybe a skimmia or Gaultheria for interesting patio pots or hanging baskets.
Winter Flowering Bulbs
Hopefully by now you have planted your spring bulbs and included some of the earliest flowering ones such as:
- Cyclamen coum
These can all flower as early as late December and January giving us some much-needed winter cheer.
They do well in shaded areas in free draining soil, or in full sun, particularly the crocus, their blooms open right out as soon as there is some sun on them and will come back year-on-year. All these bulbs look great planted together or as displays on their own and are ideal for pots as well.
Seeing this splash of colour, white, purple and deep gold will entice us out into our gardens on a cold, bright winter morning.
Winter Evergreen Plants
Euonymus are a standout plant for me, the variegated leaves, and tiny berries are the perfect foil for other winter plants. Variations include, green and gold, pale green and silver, white and green and lime green with yellow. Many of them have a pink or peach tinge to their leaves in autumn. They are one of the most versatile and easy to grow evergreen shrubs. They make a gorgeous specimen shrub or can be used as hedging.
This fabulous plant has large bright green, shiny leaves and is suitable for anywhere in the garden, shade or sun. Easy to grow, and you can’t really do anything wrong to it. New early spring growth can suffer with a sharp frost but it always bounces back.
Mature plants produce creamy white flowers which the bees and other pollinators appreciate.
I have mentioned Heuchera before and I include them again as there are so many lovely varieties to choose from. Purple, bronze, copper and lime leaves are evergreen so they remain interesting and colourful even after their flowers are finished. Ideal plants for winter containers as well.
These superb winter shrubs have deep green glossy leaves and produce masses of tiny flowers in white, pink or reds.
They are a good choice for winter containers too and can be planted into the garden when the pot display is finished.
For further plants for winter interest read Trees and shrubs for winter colour
Evergreen Climbing Plants
Clematis cirrohsa Freckles
Freckles is one of my favourites as you probably know by now. A vigorous evergreen climbing plant, it will cover walls, fences, arches in no time at all. In flower from November right through to late spring. Prune back hard after flowering for healthy new growth and a new profusion of flowers.
The flowers are cream with burgundy freckles.
Clematis cirrohsa Jingle Bells
This pretty clematis, aptly named for a mid winter flowering evergreen, has dainty pale yellow to white flowers throughout winter to early spring with dark green foliage and attractive seed heads.
Most ivy are vigorous climbers, ideal for covering unsightly walls, fences or outbuildings. They also flower later in the year, providing insects, bees and other pollinators with essential food at a time when there is very little else for them.
I have spoken of winter jasmine before, but it is worthy of another mention, evergreen with tiny yellow flowers all winter and into spring. Jasmine is a valuable climber to have.
Read here for more hardy climbing plants.
Plants with Winter Berries
Plants with winter berries really come into their own at this time of year, providing much-needed colour and texture as well as food and shelter for our wildlife.
All produce a profusion of bright berries in red, orange or yellow.
Gaultheria is compact and small, boasting beautiful berries in winter time. Complemented by glossy foliage, it’s berries are usually in either red or white. These are one of the most versatile winter container plants.
The winter garden flowering plants can all be planted now, so get out in your gardens on a sunny, dry day and enjoy some planting time.
I do hope that I have inspired you to grow some of the above plants for your garden, so that you can appreciate their forms and colours through the cold winter months.
There is always something for the garden what ever the time of year.
So use your winter garden to the full. On days when you want time away or to spend some hours in a beautiful public garden or green space visit
If you’re wondering what else you can do in the garden this month check out
For more ideas see plants for winter colour
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