Plants for Colorful Winter Gardens
By Hillary Rinaldi, Morro Bay, California
Just because temperatures are bound to cool off over the next few months doesn't mean your garden has to follow suit. Keep things lush and colorful with plants that continue to shine late into the season, even in winter.
It's the perfect time to add these reliable beauties to your landscape, while there's still a chance to get everything planted and established before the really cold weather sets in. And while evergreens are a popular choice for winter interest, these plants offer something more, whether it's blooms, structure or berries. Go ahead—take your winter garden from dull to dazzling!
'Autumn Joy' Sedum
A familiar favorite, this high-performing perennial boasts large heads of pink, star-shaped flowers that appear in fall. As the season progresses, the blooms change to a copper-red—a stunning contrast to the plant's fleshy green foliage. Their seed heads provide winter interest and food for the birds, so don't cut them back until spring. Plant in full sun.
This large, low-maintenance shrub grows to 8 feet high and wide. Flowering from early summer until frost and sprouting fabulous color in fall, it's really the plant's large, red, tomato-like hips that are produced after it blooms that give it winter interest. Best planted in full sun.
Through most of winter and into early spring, this low-growing plant has a great display of small, urn-shaped flowers in hues of purple-pink. There are many reliable, well-known cultivars to choose from, all of which have tiny, needle-like leaves. Grow in full sun to light shade.
This old-fashioned classic produces a plethora of charming flowers with faces in shades of yellow, blue, violet and white. For fall bloom, sow seeds in spring, and the flowers often hang on through the winter. Grow in partial shade to full sun.
Growing to 12 inches tall, this Mediterranean native sends up broad, arrow-shaped leaves that are marked with gray-green veins in fall. The foliage remains evergreen in milder climates but dies back in colder climates where new leaves emerge in early spring. Italian Arum is a low-maintenance plant, perfect for amateur gardeners. Plant in part to full shade.
This genus has tons of choices that are hardy in many climate zones. The Christmas Rose is popular for its white flowers that appear in midwinter to early spring, often in the snow. Other hellebore varieties have flowers in shades of cream, green, pink and purple. They're perfect for winter interest with their great foliage and long-lasting flowers. Grow in part to full shade.
Grown mainly for its grass-like foliage, which is sweet-smelling, sweet flag boasts a beautiful texture and pleasing green, white and chartreuse colors into winter.
Available in sizes that range from dwarf to impressive, 6-foot-tall varieties, this perennial is native to Japan. Grow in full sun to partial shade.