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, How To Grow And Care For 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
what jobs to do in the garden in November
For more ideas see plants for winter colour
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Please use the comments box below for any questions or views regarding this or any other articles.
Hello Louise, great ideas as usual, some lovely plants to include in my garden. I love the black container with the white and green, very contemporary and stylish. Your colour themes and ideas are lovely.
Thank you for the inspiration.
Thank you very much. I am always happy to know when you find inspiration.
I live in Greece, so we are always advised to plan the new seeds before spring. Right now our garden looks very plain and boring, so I am trying to find any plant that will give it life! While I was researching I stumbled upon your website, so I wanted to ask. Do you know which of these could have a bigger chance of making it through the Greek winter? Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!
Thank you for commenting on this article.
Depending where you are in Greece your winters are either about the same as here in the UK or slightly warmer.
All the plants I have mentioned are winter hardy but in your hotter Greek summer, the evergreens and perennial will need a good supply of water.
The perennial grasses are a good choice as they like free draining sites and are happy in full sun.
The climbers will all be suitable for your Greek garden throughout winter.
Thanks for your article!
Although most gardening I have ever done was on the balcony, it is amazing just how much can grow there. I even tried to grow cedar trees from a cone that a relative brought from Siberia. Out of 90 or so nuts, 40 grew. I gave away a lot of them to other people, but the ones that I kept growing at home died. It’s a very hard tree to grow.
Now that it’s winter, would you recommend any of those plants that you mentioned for a balcony?
Hello Mikhail, thank you for your comments, and yes I imagine cedar needs some specific conditions to grow well, and probably not so happy in containers.
All the perennial plants and grasses are happy in pots and mist are winter hardy as are bulbs. Evergreen shrubs such as the Euonymus also are happy in pots so you can have these on your balcony too.
Hope this helps.
I love how did you choose all this 20 colouful plants for this winter season. I was looking to put some plants like this at the entrance to the house and on the terrace. Because in this winter i will expect many carolers, I want to be fascinated by these plants. I must say that my favorite is winter pansies. I just imagine how this amazing plant will stay in the front of my door, with a little snow around and with some Christmas colored light bulbs. Wow.
Thanks a lot and i hope to see more posts like this. Wish you all the best!
Thank you for your joyful comments, yes pansies are very pretty and colourful, they will look very cheerful with the lights too. Would love to see pics when you do them.
I was looking for something to add to our small garden behind our house, it used to be a yard but we’ve transformed it to a small garden. We can’t have fruits or vegetables there (apart from a few strawberries) but only flowers and small bushes for decoration. The only plant that brings colours to our garden in winter is pyracantha and I appreciate the little orange berries there but I would like to have more beauty in the garden in winter time. I love the picture on the top of your article, which one is that? Is it perennial? It looks really beautiful.
Thank you for visiting and commenting.
Pyracantha are a great plant aren’t they, birds love the berries.
The Plant you asked about is Fatsia Japonica, a very handsome plant with large glossy leaves. The flowers and berries are on it now, which is wonderful for wildlife, birds and pollinators when there is little else about for them.
For some height if you have a wall or fence try adding a winter clematis like the one in the blog. Clematis Freckles, very pretty all through winter and evergreen.
Oh, I didn’t know there were winter clematis as well, I only knew about the common clematis but I’ve always thought they were too sensitive for conditions. Maybe the winter ones are stronger. Thanks for answering my question, this Fatsia Japonica would look lovely in our garden, I’ll have to get one.
Yes, the winter, evergreen clematis are hardy, tough as old boots as we say in my area.
Very pretty too, there are several varieties that flower through winter.
I hope you get a Fatsia, they really are lovely plants and they look after themselves.
Plants are interesting species.. Colorful ones make our environment beautiful.. There so many plant here that I haven’t heard of. But I like Plants with winter berries since they ome into their own at this time of year, providing much-needed colour and texture as well as food and shelter for our wildlife . but the sustainability of this plant is a big question… How do we sustain them?
Thank you for your interest, I agree, plants with berries are a valuable addition to any garden.
The plants I included, holly, pyracantha and cotoneaster are all winter hardy and need very little care. Planted in free draining soil, at any aspect, they are happy and relatively maintenance free.
Hi I love to learn about plants. Maintaining a colorful flower garden can be challenging during the winter and, in some places, nearly impossible to do outdoors. However, you can still find ways to surround yourself with flowers during the bleaker months of the year, wherever you live . I now have options to choose from after going through your post. Thank you very much for a great topic
Thanks for popping by and your comments.
I am happy to have given you lots of ideas and inspiration for your garden.